Indianapolis, INTop Climate Change Risks: Heat, Precipitation, Drought

Risk Snapshot

Climate Change Hazard Ratings for Indianapolis, IN

Ratings represent risk relative to the contiguous United States. 100 is the highest risk for the hazard and 1 is the lowest for the U.S., but does not indicate no risk. Flood and fire are rated based on the buildings in Indianapolis exposed to these hazards. See hazard sections below and check your address for details.

People in Indianapolis, IN are especially likely to experience increased risks from heat, precipitation, and drought.

Extreme heat and flooding pose the most direct climate threats to Indianapolis. The city of Indianapolis has reacted to these threats by adopting a climate action plan to build resilience and adaptation measures in the city.

Indiana is particularly vulnerable to flooding due to the number of rivers, tributaries, and wetland areas throughout the state. Flooding in the Indianapolis area is often related to heavy rainfall. Average annual precipitation has increased in the Midwest by 5 to 10 percent in the last half century. Rainfall during the four wettest days of the year has increased 35 percent, further increasing flood risk. Heavy runoff caused by extreme precipitation patterns can cause severe property damage and overwhelm sewage and wastewater systems.

Extreme heat causes higher energy costs due to air conditioner use, worse air pollution, and heat-related illnesses. Lack of development funds in historically red-lined areas of Indianapolis means that some areas of the city experience the effects of extreme heat much worse than others. The urban heat island effect causes much higher temperatures in areas that have been over-developed with pavement, buildings, and other heat-retaining surfaces. Indianapolis’s approach to climate change adaptation aims to even out climate-based inequalities between communities by expanding green space.

Heat risk in Indianapolis, IN

The number of the hottest days in Indianapolis is projected to keep increasing.

In a typical year between 1985-2005, people in Indianapolis, IN experienced about 7 days above 91.8ºF in a year. By 2050, people in Indianapolis are projected to experience an average of about 45 days per year over 91.8ºF.

Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of heat waves, even in places with cooler average temperatures. See more information on heat risk. Everyone can take steps to reduce their risks from extreme heat.

Precipitation risk in Indianapolis, IN

The amount of precipitation during the most extreme days in Indianapolis is projected to increase.

An extreme storm for Indianapolis, IN is a 48-hour rainfall total greater than 0.8 inches. Historically, about 16.2" of rain (or the equivalent in snow) fell over about 11 storms each year. By 2050, about 19.4" of rain are projected over about 14 storms each year. The annual precipitation in Indianapolis, IN is projected to increase from about 40.2" to about 43.2".

Extreme precipitation in any form can pose significant risks. Climate change increases the potential for extreme rainfall or snowfall because warmer air can hold more water vapor. See more information on storm risk. Property owners can take steps to reduce their risks from extreme precipitation.

Drought risk in Indianapolis, IN

The recent average water stress in Indianapolis is moderately low and projected to increase through 2050.

The Upper White watershed, which contains Indianapolis, IN, has experienced 361 weeks (32% of weeks) since 2000 with some of its area in drought of any level, and 8 weeks (1% of weeks) since 2000 with some of its area in Extreme or Exceptional drought. Source: National Drought Monitor.

Climate change is increasing the risk of drought. Water stress (the ratio of water demand to supply) depends on how water utilities source water and their plans to adapt to climate change. Property owners can also take steps to reduce their risks from drought.

Flood risk in Indianapolis, IN

Buildings at risk in Indianapolis average about a 37% chance of a flood about 1.6 feet deep over 30 years.

Of 313 census tracts in Indianapolis, IN, there are 41 where more than half of buildings have significant risk from surface (pluvial) flooding and riverine (fluvial) flooding.Property owners can check a specific address for flood risk including FEMA flood zone, then take steps to reduce their vulnerability to flooding damage.

Climate change is increasing inland and coastal flooding risk due to sea level rise and increasing chances of extreme precipitation. See more information on flooding risk.

Fire risk in Indianapolis, IN

The risk on the most dangerous fire weather days in Indianapolis is low. The number of these days per year is expected to increase through 2050.

Of 313 census tracts in Indianapolis, IN, there are 137 where more than a quarter of buildings have significant fire risk, and 35 where more than half of buildings have significant fire risk. Property owners can take steps to mitigate their risks from wildfires.

Fire risk depends on proximity to vegation: densely developed urban areas have a much lower risk of burning than areas adjacent to wildland. Climate change increases risks from wildfire by creating hotter, drier conditions for fires to spread. ClimateCheck ratings of fire risk are based on projected weather conditions and U.S. Forest Service models simulating fire behavior.

How can we prevent and adapt to climate change?

Mitigating climate change, by eliminating our emissions into the atmosphere and reducing our strain on the environment, and adapting to our changing planet are both vital to our well-being.

Understand Risks

The risks presented on this page reflect averages for Indianapolis, IN and can vary for individual properties. Check your address and request a report describing risks to your property and in your area.

Protect Homes and Communities

Check our free report for tips on protecting your home from hazards.

Green infrastructure is a category of nature-based solutions for managing increasing precipitation. Find resources for individuals and municipalities through the EPA Soak Up the Rain initiative.

Planting trees and vegetation helps reduce extreme heat in urban environments. Cool pavements can also help. Search the Heat Island Community Actions Database to see what some municipalities have been doing to reduce extreme heat risk.

Read more about building resilience for communities: U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

Use the Common Cause tool to find your representatives, how to contact them, and information about political contributions and bills they have introduced.

Find Balance

Reducing emissions is necessary and possible across the globe and in every part of our society. Learn more with the Project Drawdown introduction to climate solutions.

Estimate your emissions with the CoolClimate calculator.