Boston, MATop Climate Change Risks: Precipitation, Heat, Flood

Risk Snapshot

Climate Change Hazard Ratings for Boston, MA

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 Boston exposed to these hazards. See hazard sections below and check your address for details.

People in Boston, MA are especially likely to experience increased risks from precipitation, heat, and flood.

Boston has a prolific arts and culture scene and is filled with lively theaters, historic architecture, thought-provoking public art, and acclaimed artists and playwrights. Boston’s location on the coast and along the Charles River makes it especially susceptible to all types of flooding risks due to increases in extreme precipitation, storm surges, and sea level rise.

Precipitation risk in Boston, MA

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

An extreme storm for Boston, MA is a 48-hour rainfall total greater than 1.0 inches. Historically, about 18.8" of rain (or the equivalent in snow) fell over about 11 storms each year. By 2050, about 22.3" of rain are projected over about 13 storms each year. The annual precipitation in Boston, MA is projected to increase from about 47.1" to about 50.5".

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.

Heat risk in Boston, MA

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

In a typical year between 1985-2005, people in Boston, MA experienced about 7 days above 90.7ºF in a year. By 2050, people in Boston are projected to experience an average of about 29 days per year over 90.7ºF.

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.

Flood risk in Boston, MA

Buildings at risk in Boston average about a 42% chance of a flood about 1.3 feet deep over 30 years.

Of 255 census tracts in Boston, MA, there are 109 where more than half of buildings have significant risk from storm surge, high tide flooding, 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.

Drought risk in Boston, MA

The recent average water stress in Boston is moderately low and projected to remain about the same through 2050.

The Charles watershed, which contains Boston, MA, has experienced 381 weeks (33% of weeks) since 2000 with some of its area in drought of any level, and 24 weeks (2% 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.

Fire risk in Boston, MA

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

Of 255 census tracts in Boston, MA, there are 5 where more than a quarter of buildings have significant fire risk, and 1 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 Boston, MA 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.