As the most powerful storm to ever hit the Atlantic—Hurricane Irma — heads toward Florida, emergency management officials are relying on historical data in an attempt to predict the extent of the flooding the state might face. A West Virginia University civil and environmental engineering expert has developed a dynamic model that can predict flooding from rainfall, providing a more accurate picture of what could happen across a region.
“Scientists have long been focusing on collecting data and developing models to predict oceanic flooding of coastal areas through storm surges. However, inland flooding due to extreme rainfalls accompanying the storms fell in the gap. My model fills this science and engineering gap by factoring in complex land uses/cover, drainage network, low elevation, flat topography, and shallow groundwater table to dynamically predict flooding from intense rainfall in coastal Florida. This is the first model in the nation that can predict rainfall accumulation flood in large coastal basins, much like what Hurricane Harvey did in Houston and adjacent areas.”
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