The National Academies

NCHRP 20-59(53) [Completed]

FloodCast: A Framework for Enhanced Flood Event Decision Making for Transportation Resilience

  Project Data
Funds: $498,162
Research Agency: Dewberry Consultants LLC
Principal Investigator: Mat Mampara
Effective Date: 9/2/2014
Completion Date: 5/31/2018

Flooding, and the effects and impacts of flooding along transportation corridors, has caused billions of dollars of damage and countless deaths. Technology currently exists to accurately pinpoint those areas along a transportation corridor that are susceptible to flooding. Many state DOTs have a bridge flood monitoring program for structures that are susceptible to bridge scour. Additionally, most state DOTs have inundation mapping and use inundation modeling in the design of their transportation infrastructure. Although there are weather and climate tools and systems available for predicting changes in the weather and climate conditions, they have not yet been integrated to provide sufficient planning and prediction information required by state DOTs to carry out flood planning, risk management, mitigation, operations, and emergency response activities. Research is needed to translate the available technologies into a suite of tools and methods for use by decision makers at DOTs. Such research is intended to support DOTs in their efforts to develop and deploy emergency management early warning systems that can be applied to flood prediction and warning for enhanced flood event decision making and situational awareness for transportation resilience by harnessing available processes, tools, and hydrometeorology network capabilities.

The objectives of this research are to develop a strategic framework and a prototype tool for enhanced flood event decision making. The framework and tool should help state DOTs plan, manage risks, mitigate hazards, and respond to flood and flash flood events. The framework and tool should address not only immediate flood impacts, but also cascading, escalating impacts. Given the large amount and diversity of applicable data and tools, the framework design should be flexible and scalable to accommodate the available data sets and allow users to easily share both data and products with other users, thereby fostering collaboration across government organizations and the private sector.
STATUS: Phases I-III complete. Phase IV research in progress.
Phase I focused on understanding the flood management challenges facing DOTs, including data management and procedural needs and identifying a potential framework for the incorporation of more data into decision-making frameworks. Tasks in this phase included a literature review and technical memorandum describing existing tools, methods, data, and models for flood event planning, response, and operations; a gap analysis and prioritized list of practitioner needs versus capability of existing resources to meet those needs; and a framework and architecture to organize existing resources. Key findings and recommendations are summarized in an Interim Report.
Phase II built off the previous research and frameworks to develop a prototype FloodCast tool that demonstrated how granular, spatially explicit weather, climate, hydrologic, and hydraulic data could be integrated with transportation asset information to support state DOT flood response and hazard mitigation decision making. The prototype tool demonstrates how the proposed framework can be applied to ingesting and distributing information corresponding to data availability and high-priority practitioner needs. The tool was accompanied by a Practitioner Guidebook and demonstration video webinar.
During Phase III the research team engaged with over 20 state DOTs to assess ability to engage with flood forecasting systems and identify outstanding technology and capacity gaps. The research team created a Capability Maturity Model (CMM) framework to facilitate DOT self-assessment and identify activities and products DOTs may need in order to reach their desired level of flood forecasting capability. Next, the team performed a detailed requirements analysis to identify the essential capabilities a flood forecasting and response platform should have, to support state DOTs’ response, recovery, and mitigation activities. The team also laid out standards and specifications for bringing together key data elements produced by a variety of entities (e.g. federal, state, local, etc.) across a variety of domains (e.g. meteorology, hydrology, asset management, etc.).
Findings from the requirements analysis have greatly directed the research and focus moving forward. In particular, the need for dynamic event-based inundation modeling (Hydrology & Hydraulics) was the most critical and foundational need identified by nearly all interviewed stakeholders and therefore a central component of Phase IV.
See NCHRP Project 20-59(53)A for Phase IV.

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