Next Generation Flood Alert in Houston

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1 Next Generation Flood Alert in Houston Philip B. Bedient Civil and Environmental Eng., Rice University Houston, TX

2 Major Causes of Urban Flooding (Excess Water that Inundates) Highly Developed (urbanized) Area Intensity and Duration of Severe Rainfall Flat Topography with Little Storage Increased drainage density and impervious cover Flood Control methods attempt to replace storage with local and regional level detention ponds

3 t Urban Basin Response is Rapid Rainfall (in Year Storm 8.4 inches 10 Year Storm 5.6 inches 25 Year Storm 6.6 inches 5 Year Storm 4.8 inches Divide :30 1:00 1:30 2:00 2:30 3:00 3:30 Time 4:00 4:30 5:00 5:30 6:00 Reservoir Drainage and soil type Concrete channels Natural stream Urban Rapid urbanization Q Concrete channel

4 Brays Bayou Watershed Harris Gully Area: Brays Bayou Area: 4.5 sq. mi. 129 sq. mi. Rice/TMC Area Watershed Boundary

5 Problems in Predicting Houston Hydrology Rapidly moving weather systems - intense rainfalls Streamflows often exceed bank capacities Severe street flooding occurs during routine rainfalls Planning for future urban development must consider both the local and regional watershed scale Urban developments must be better designed with internal storage due to stream capacity limitations New CASA radars will allow for improved accuracy of rainfall estimates in small scale watersheds.

6 Technology has Revolutionized the Field of Urban Hydrology Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Large Hydrologic and Meteorologic Databases LIDAR data for topographic display RADAR rainfall estimates from NEXRAD Distributed hydrologic models that capture data variability better than older modeling approaches Advanced measuring tools for severe weather and Flood Alert at the small urban scale - CASA radars

7 NEXRAD Rainfall Estimates NEXRAD provides real-time data every 5 minutes Equivalent to 250 gages in Brays Bayou watershed Each pixel now represents an average rainfall over 1 sq km - more accurate than gages NEXRAD rainfall estimates compare well with single point rain gage measurements (r 2 ~ 0.9)

8 Goals of Flood ALERT System Increase lead time for flood warning to 2-3 hrs Provide accurate real time rainfall estimates and images as storms approach a critical area Provide a method to estimate peak stream flows at points of critical interest Provide frequent information updates via a dynamic web site - updates in real time

9 Rice/TMC Flood Alert System (FAS2) NEXRAD calibration Current Radar Forecast Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts Distributed Distributedand and Lumped Lumped Parameter Parameter Rainfall Rainfall // Runoff Runoff Analysis Analysis Real-Time Hydrographs Flood Protection & Emergency Actions Flood door closure Evacuations Recall of Personnel Backup Power Rice/TMC Fax Pager Alert Level Flood Protection Action Levels Bayou Camera

10

11 Next Generation FAS Inundation mapping as storms approach - Floodplain Library - Real-time infrastructure risk analysis - Flood prediction for evacuation routes Incorporation of storm surge impacts - Coupling of inland flood alert systems with coastal storm surge modeling

12 T2 Simulated Peak Flow =12071 cfs at Time 2 Radar T2 Floodplain Map for T2

13 T3 Simulated Peak Flow = cfs at Time 3 Radar T3 Floodplain Map for T3

14 T5 Peak Flow = cfs at Time 5 Radar T5 Floodplain Map for T5

15 CASA - NSF ERC Radars will revolutionize our ability to sense severe weather Radars were developed by Umass, weather predictions from OU, radar testing at CSU, and Rice U handling the Houston flood testbed NetRAD system will be deployed this summer in Houston and will expand over time as more users are identified. 5-7 radars can cover most of the affected Houston area with support from NEXRAD. NetRAD should improve predictive accuracy at small basin scales, and the FAS2 is being improved to receive NetRAD data for Houston.

16 CASA QPE Objectives Bring CASA radars to Houston testbed Build off existing Flood Alert System ( ) Evaluate hydrologic and hydraulic interactions between local and regional scale watersheds Test updated Vflo model in Texas Medical Center and White Oak basins Test NEXRAD vs. NetRAD and rainfall gages for several storm events Expand the method and model to other areas in Houston prone to flooding - interest from TxDOT

17 NSF Proposed NETRAD Sites for Houston Testbed New Radar Technology for time period Provide data at 200 m x 200 m scale pixels

18 Texas Medical Center Proposed CASA Radar1 Smith Tower Location

19 Center for Storm Prediction, Warning and Evacuation Advanced Model Predictions SEVERE Storms Evacuation Plan Shelter in Place EDUCATION OUTREACH Real Time Web Site ALERT Network Emergency Centers

20 The Partnership Concept The suffering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the Gulf Coast clearly demonstrated the extreme and dismal situation that exists in disaster planning and management in this region. This Partnership for Innovation will develop the necessary infrastructure to coordinate research programs at five major universities, working with the private sector, to deliver innovative technologies in a timely manner, and to disseminate warnings to governmental agencies responsible for at-risk communities. The NWS cannot deliver this customized service for urban coastal areas and critical facilities

21 The Partnership Concept The partnership mission: (1) Develop the ADCIRC Model for real time surge prediction along the coast (2) Link surge prediction with radar-based flood prediction at the coast, and create inundation maps thru GIS (3) Apply innovative designs above to emergency transportation and evacuation (3) Develop disaster trained workforce /educational programs that link partners to private companies and HGAC (5) Deploy a RFT (regional forecast testbed) in year 2/3.

22 The Members Rice University - (Lead) - Flood prediction, infrastructure, and societal impacts Univ of Houston - Infrastructure risk analysis, education center outreach LSU - Hurricane & surge prediction, evacuation planning University of Texas - surge prediction for TX, satellite data, evacuation, advanced data coordination UT Brownsville - coastal impact community - RFT. TSU - transportation and evacuation systems HGAC - Houston Galveston Area Council - regional COG for hurricane preparations and evacuation TMC - Texas Medical Center - primary care and research facility City of Houston - important infrastructure and security issues VAI, Dodson, URS - private companies in this area

23 100 billion $$ Impacts of Storm Surge

24 Rita Call For Evacuation

25 STORM SURGE MODEL - LSU Updated every 5-6 hours during storm

26 TSARP Modeled Floodplain 12 inches of Rainfall 100yr Rainfall

27 More TSARP Accurate Modeled Maps Floodplain of Storm Surge Linked 12 inches to of inland Rainfall flooding needed Currently not linked at all due to lack of Federal authority 100yr Rainfall 288

28 CITY OF HOUSTON WATER TREATMENT PLANT

29 +20 FT MSL

30 +25 FT MSL

31

32

33 SUMMARY Existing FAS2 has worked well at regional basin scale. CASA will bring a new level of radar / rainfall accuracy to flood alert - incorporated into the existing FAS architecture. Small basins and evacuation road inundation (hot spots) can be addressed with enhanced urban hydrologic models. Flood forecasting and emergency response has been improved due to combined radar and hydrologic model breakthroughs. A new Center of Excellence should be created in Houston - SSPEED Center with Rice, UH, TSU, LSU, UTA, UTB

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