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IIHR Seminar, Brian Ashe & George Smith

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May 26, 2017 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

| Free

Historical, Real time, and Scenario Flood Inundation Mapping for Hazard Mitigation, Response, and Recovery  


Presented by:  Brian Ashe and George Smith, Riverside Technology, Inc., Fort Collins, CO


Abstract:  There are multiple challenges to creating continuous real-time inundation maps. Real-time hydraulic modelling has been impractical due to potential instabilities and long model run times. Pre-computed static map libraries become quickly out-of-date, are often inaccurate, and do not account for dynamic changes in the flood profile.

We are presenting a novel approach to rapidly and reliably generate real‐time flood extents and depths for use in emergency management and flood mitigation.

The Flood Inundation Mapping (FIM) approach utilizes the FLDPLN model developed by the University of Kansas. It determines to which degree a point Q in a floodplain can be flooded by water originating from an upstream/higher elevation or downstream/lower elevation point P. Aggregating these relations determines the potential for any point on a river to flood any other point. This information is pre-computed for use by the FIM system through a ‘Segmented Library of Inundation Extents’ (SLIE).

Overlaying a real-time river profile on the SLIE allows for the estimation of FIM extents and depths along the reach. Dynamic river profiles are approximated between gaged points based on (1) current or forecast water levels and (2) pre‐computed hydraulic model results or other water level profiles. Miles of flood extents are processed in seconds, providing almost immediate real-time flood inundation information. The results can be post‐processed to extract additional information.

Riverside Technology, inc. has developed an innovative real-time flood inundation mapping solution known as RiverTrak™, designed for streamlined deployment to rapidly produce dynamic maps of inundation depths and extents and customized to regional watersheds. Maps are created based on the latest available observed and forecasted gauge values from the National Weather Service or other public or private networks. RiverTrak provides historical, real-time, or scenario maps to integrate existing hazard mitigation efforts and information technology for areas affected by riverine flooding.  To address the issue of real-time flood map inaccuracy Riverside is developing a system that uses modern drone technology to easily and cost effectively update digital elevation models and flood inundation maps.

Riverside worked with the city of Fort Collins over the summer of 2016 to beta test the RiverTrak flood inundation system.  As the inundation maps of the 2013 Fort Collins flood event were reviewed, some areas which had changed since 2013 were identified, which would cause flood extents and depths to be different if the same event occurred today.  The McMurry Natural Area was identified as an area with recent significant earth work changes.  This area is especially important because it is monitored as a threshold area to determine if action is required for emergency response.  Because the flood inundation maps were inaccurate at this critical location, the city was reluctant to use the maps in real-time events.  To re-fly the Lidar was not cost effective and would not happen any time soon.  So, Riverside proposed using drones to produce new data quickly and economically to update the maps.

We will present the process and results of using drone technology to update the flood inundation maps for the City of Fort Collins McMurry Natural Area to demonstrate our solution.

This new technology allows the visualization of inundation and flood extents in real-time, but also for historical flooding and scenario analysis.



May 26, 2017
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm


Stanley Hydraulics Lab
127 SHL
Iowa City, IA 52242 United States
Posted on May 23rd, 2017

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