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Definitions of FEMA Flood Zone Designations

August 22nd, 2008 · 1 Comment

A major side effect of Tropical Storm Fay to homeowners in Central Florida is flooding. Many of the homes that face flooding should have had an idea that it was possible if they simply checked the FEMA flood zones prior to purchasing their home.

Flood zones are geographic areas that the FEMA has defined according to varying levels of flood risk. These zones are depicted on a community’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or Flood Hazard Boundary Map. Each zone reflects the severity or type of flooding in the area.
Moderate to Low Risk Areas
In communities that participate in the NFIP, flood insurance is available to all property owners and renters in these zones:
ZONE DESCRIPTION
B, C, and X Areas outside the 1-percent annual chance floodplain, areas of 1% annual chance sheet flow flooding where average depths are less than 1 foot, areas of 1% annual chance stream flooding where the contributing drainage area is less than 1 square mile, or areas protected from the 1% annual chance flood by levees. No Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone. Insurance purchase is not required in these zones.
High Risk Areas
In communities that participate in the NFIP, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply to all of these zones:
ZONE DESCRIPTION
A Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Because detailed analyses are not performed for such areas; no depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones.
AE, A1-A30 Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. In most instances, base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.
AH Areas with a 1% annual chance of shallow flooding, usually in the form of a pond, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.
AO River or stream flood hazard areas, and areas with a 1% or greater chance of shallow flooding each year, usually in the form of sheet flow, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Average flood depths derived from detailed analyses are shown within these zones.
AR Areas with a temporarily increased flood risk due to the building or restoration of a flood control system (such as a levee or a dam). Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements will apply, but rates will not exceed the rates for unnumbered A zones if the structure is built or restored in compliance with Zone AR floodplain management regulations.
A99 Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding that will be protected by a Federal flood control system where construction has reached specified legal requirements. No depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones.
High Risk – Coastal Areas
In communities that participate in the NFIP, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply to all of these zones:
ZONE DESCRIPTION
V Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. No base flood elevations are shown within these zones.
VE, V1 – 30 Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.
Undetermined Risk Areas
ZONE DESCRIPTION
D Areas with possible but undetermined flood hazards. No flood hazard analysis has been conducted. Flood insurance rates are commensurate with the uncertainty of the flood risk.

related link: FEMA Flood Zone Map Search

Tags: Real Estate Tips

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Gail McElhinney // Aug 30, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    This is helpful information for any real estate investor unfamiliar with Florida properties,etc.
    I have never lived in an area that flooded, yet in evaluating properties, I was seeing these codes popping up frequently, so I decided to check your site out. Very good. Thanks so much.