The National Academies

NCHRP 20-59(53)A [Active]

A Guide to Flood Forecasting for Transportation Resilience

  Project Data
Funds: $650,000
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Yi Zhao
Research Agency: Dewberry Engineers Inc.
Principal Investigator: Mr. Mat Mampara
Effective Date: 6/27/2019
Completion Date: 3/31/2024

This research addresses a critical need to better predict the timing and magnitude of flooding in order to enable state departments of transportation (DOTs) to issue advanced early-warnings, reducing transportation-related deaths and expensive damage to critical assets. During Phases I – III of the FloodCast project, the research team discovered that most DOTs are currently leveraging available data and technology to support flood event decision-making. While these systems exhibit varying levels of sophistication, even the DOTs with the most advanced systems expressed the need for more efficient prediction of expected timing, magnitude, and location of flooding, as well as anticipated impacts on infrastructure, particularly for locations without monitoring gauges. Experimental products and emerging areas of research present promising opportunities for developing high quality hydrometeorological projections and flood forecasts, yet there is an overarching need for structures and guidance to inform how such data can be leveraged in a useful way to enhance DOT flood-event decision making.
FloodCast aims to strengthen state DOT flood response capabilities through the integration of real-time actionable flood forecast information into transportation asset management and emergency operations. A substantial enhancement to the existing DOT planning and response toolkit can be achieved by incorporating dynamic inundation mapping that allows for the rapid translation of stream flow predictions of anticipated events to flood elevation, inundation extent and flood depth products along the hydrologic network. FloodCast attempts to achieve this through coordinating with relevant stakeholders, setting standards for data management, developing methods for flood forecasting processes, delivering incident projection information to DOTs, and providing guidance for the application of outputs in various use cases.A successful FloodCast system will serve to protect human health and safety in the event of extreme weather conditions, while also informing and enhancing longer-term maintenance, planning, and investment decisions.
Phase IV Objectives
Phase IV focuses on developing technical processes, supports, and guidance to make flood forecasting an achievable reality for all DOTs. The primary objective for this phase of the research is to leverage available hydrometeorology and asset data to produce flood incident projections in a manner and format that can be easily integrated into state DOTs decision making frameworks. In addition to developing a documented method and digital utility to produce usable data outputs, this work will include sustained engagement and knowledge-exchange with partner DOTs and guidance in the form of a practitioner manual. 
While tasks are distinct in the nature of their work and objectives, they are also iterative by design and may overlap significantly in terms of process and timeline.
Task 1: Work Plan Development
Task 2: Methodology Design
Task 3a: Technical Validation
Task 3b: User Testing and Iteration/Case Studies
Task 4: Utility Development (on hold pending panel approval)
Task 5: Implementation Guidance
STATUS: Research in progress. 

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