Forecasters turn to Variety of Technologies to fight with floodwaters

An arsenal of new technology is being put to the evaluation as rivers inundate cities and farm fields throughout the United 27, combating floods. Are assisting maintain flood management projects and forecast where oceans will roar out of their banks.

Together, these tools are placing info to utilize in real time, enabling individuals and crisis managers at risk to produce decisions that may save lives and property, said associate professor of geological and atmospheric sciences at Iowa State University, Kristie Franz.

The price of the technology is coming down even as disaster recovery gets more costly, so”whatever that we can do to decrease the costs of these natural and flooding risks is worth it,” she explained. “Of course, loss of life, that you can not set a dollar amount on, is worth that too.”

U.S. scientists said in their spring climate outlook which 13 million people are in danger of major inundation, with more than 200 river gauges this week demonstrating some degree of flood in the Mississippi River basin, which drains the vast center of the USA. Major flooding continues to close to the mouth of the Mississippi from Louisiana reveals in areas from the Red River in North Dakota.

“There are more than 200 million individuals that are under a elevated threat risk,” said Ed Clark, director of the National Water Center at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a flood forecasting hub.

A lot of the technology didn’t exist until recently. Fueled from supercomputers in Virginia and Florida, it came online about three decades back and expanded streamflow data by 700-fold, gathering data from 5 million lake miles (8 million kilometers) of rivers and streams nationwide, including many smaller ones in remote places.

“Our models simulate just what occurs when the rain drops upon the Earth and if it runs away or infiltrates,” Clark stated. “And therefore the recent conditions, if that be snow pack or even the soil moisture in the snow pack, well that’s something we can quantify and monitor and understand.”

Dam safety officials and emergency managers can see simulations of the results of flood waters washing a levee away or crashing through a dam using technologies developed in the University of Mississippi — a web-based system. The software provided simulations that advised the response to heavy storms that damaged spillways in California in the nation’s tallest dam and went online in 2017. The program also helped this year forecast the flooding after Hurricane Harvey at Texas and Louisiana.

Engineers tracking levees along the Mississippi River have been collecting and checking data with a geographical information system made by Esri, said Nick Bidlack, levee security program manager for the Memphis field of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The company produces mapping tools such as an interactive site showing their average stream and the country’s biggest rivers.

On the Mississippi River, flood inspectors utilize smartphones or tablets in the area to enter data into map-driven forms for water levels as well as the places of inoperable flood slopes, seepages, sand stems or levee slides, which can be cracks or ditches from the slopes of an earthen levee. Videos, Pictures and other data are sent permitting Corps officials to visualize their precise place and any issues , instantly informing the response, Bidlack explained.

“If people in the field have worries about something, they could let us know to really go out there and look at this,” Bidlack explained. “There’s a picture associated with this , a description of it, and it helps us treat it”

Corps engineers are flying drones to receive movie of flooded areas they can’t otherwise access to because of water or terrain and their aerial photography, said a Corps engineer, Edward Dean.

“We can reach areas that are unreachable,” Dean said.

The Corps currently uses high-definition sonar in its operations pinpointing where maintenance work needs to be performed, stated Corps engineer Andy Simmermansaid The Memphis district utilizes a survey boat known as the Tiger Shark, with a sonar head that looks like an vacuum cleaner also collects countless points each square inch of information, Simmerman said.

The technology has helped them find trucks and automobiles which were dumped into the lake, together with weak spots in the levees.

“These regions would be 20 to 80 feet underwater, we’d never expect to see them with no sonar,” Simmerman said. “The water gets low enough for people to see a good deal of these failures”

On the side of a levee was sending water Throughout recent flooding nearby Cairo, Illinois. The sonar pointed engineers into the positioning of a log that has been stuck in water, maintaining the culvert open. Conserve the land below and sandbags and plastic sheathing have been made in to halt the flow.

“The sonar surely decided,” explained Simmerman. “A major success.”

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Martin reported by Atlanta. Associated Press writer Jay Reeves led from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.