Rebuild Texas Fund

Flood Risk Awareness System Development


The Challenge

Probabilistic weather forecasts provided to the public – e.g., a 30% chance of heavy rain showers that will likely causes localized flooding - are difficult for citizens, communities, public officials, and drivers to translate into actionable information. Knowing when, where, and for how long rain will fall and how it will impact creeks, bayous, drainage systems, roads, and low-lying neighborhoods is essential information for communities who need to take action. Recent developments in hydrologic modeling and predictive rainfall and real-time forecast technology can improve both targeted flood forecasting and the communication of those forecasts to citizens.

The Approach

With a focus on three areas around Houston (Buffalo Bayou, Cypress Creek, and Clear Creek watersheds), the team is developing new and coupling existing numerical models with both historical and synthetic storm information to predict how water will impact neighborhood road segments in these watershed). This “Dryvable Flood Risk Awareness System,” will help Houston drivers make better decisions about which roads and routes on their daily commutes are likely to be flooded. In addition, the model results will help increase awareness and understanding of flood risk for individuals and organizations in Houston and Harris County. Once fully developed and tested, the system will allow residents, community organizations, emergency responders, and others who need road information to receive warnings when a particular road is likely to be flooded and unusable.

An additional benefit of the system will be the ability to share data with the Houston Department of Public Works, the Texas Department of Transportation, city planning departments, the Harris County Flood Control District, and local universities to improve their flood preparation, transportation, and response initiatives. The application will also integrate with the City of Houston’s TIGER grant for sensors, cameras, warning lights, and signage at 40 flood-prone locations in the city. More information available at Rebuild Texas Fund