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The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 51-10 [New]

Flood Resiliency and Adaptation Through Integrated Storm Prediction and Response Systems
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Staff Responsibility: Tanya Zwahlen
Fiscal Year: 2019

Preliminary Scope

Roadways and bridge flooding have significant economic impacts and are a major contributor to deaths during flood events. State department of transportation (DOTs) and other state and local agencies have implemented integrated flood warning, storm prediction, and response systems. A critical issue facing DOTs is determining the extent and the severity of flooding events. This is critical for staging personnel, inspecting bridges, and flood tracking through the state. Support for these efforts can come from internal products, flood inundation mapping using current and projected conditions, turnkey products on the market, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) gaging network.

In addition to anticipating flood areas, states are tasked with alerting the public about affected areas and protecting them from these hazards. DOTs and other agencies must determine the flood’s extent and severity to effectively work with emergency management and inform the public about road closures and detour routes. Many states are required to have a warning system as part of the state flood mitigation program. Currently, states have multiple methods of warning the public about floods. Some of these methods include warning lights tied to gages, sensors, personnel blocking off areas, warnings on official websites, and using USGS and National Weather Service products. Communication is key to the effective response before, during, and after flood events. Recent floods have identified communication gaps within and between agencies, indicating the need for improved communication methods.

The objective of this synthesis is to document the integrated storm prediction and response systems being used by state DOTs.

Information to be gathered includes, but is not be limited to:
• Storm prediction methods and thresholds that trigger warning action
• Methods used by DOTs to monitor flooding
• Available warning system and methods
• How DOTs determine the extent and severity of floods
• DOT practices for alerting the public, working with other agencies, and internal communication
• Successful systems as reported by DOTS
• Weaknesses in existing methods and what problems remain unsolved

Information will be collected through literature review, survey of DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples that document successful practices. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.

Information sources (Partial):
• Young, C. B. Developing a Bridge Scour Warning System. University of Kansas. K-TRAN:KU-14-1. September, 2016.
• Morsy, M. M., G. L. O’Neil, J. L. Goodall, and G. Hassan. Computational Enhancements for the Virginia Department of Transportation Regional River Severe Storm (R2S2) Model. FHWA/VTRC 17-R18. May 2017.
• Murray-Tuite, P., G. J. Hannoun, A. Fuentes, K. Heaslip, V. Sridhar, P. Valayamkunnath, J. Goodall, and J. Sadler. Transportation Infrastructure Flooding: Sensing Water Levels and Clearing and Rerouting Traffic out of Danger. October, 2017.
• Collins, T., Y. Hong, T. Liu, J. Vogel, H. Yu, and L. Zhu. Decision Support System for Road Closures in Flash Flood Emergencies. OTCREOS11.1-41-F. June, 2013.
• Lissade, H. Flood Warning Alert System. Preliminary Investigation. December 2012.
• Ostheimer, C. J. Development of a Flood-Warning System and Flood-Inundation Mapping in Licking County, Ohio. SIR 2012-5137.
• Mantilla, R. and W. Krajewski. Real-Time Flood Forecasting and Monitoring System for Highway Overtopping in Iowa. TR-699. (Ongoing research).
• South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. South Carolina Flood Inundation Mapping. (Ongoing research).


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