West Virginia often feels the ravages of hurricanes and tropical storms that hit U.S. coasts hundreds of miles away like Florence did last weekend in North Carolina. Even if the hurricane drops as little as two-to-four inches of rain, flooding concerns remain in parts of West Virginia.
“This region is particularly susceptible to large amounts of rain from intense storms, including remnants of hurricanes such as Florence,” said Mike Strager, professor of resource economics and management at West Virginia University. He and researchers Jacquelyn Strager and Nicolas Zegre have been studying ways to better understand and map the region to identify specific areas in West Virginia that are more susceptible than others to such storms.
“West Virginia and the Appalachian region are predicted to have more frequent and intense storm events as a result of climate change,” Strager said.
West Virginia’s steep slopes and rugged terrain channel water to narrow river valleys. Using spatial data and models, the team examines the various land features of the state to identify communities that may be particularly vulnerable. “We hope our findings can provide assistance to communities to aid in planning before the rain starts falling,” he said.
The researchers will be presenting their work to the public at the 2018 West Virginia State Water Conference, Sept. 27-28 at the Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place. All three researchers work in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. Jacquelyn Strager is the assistant director for technical services at the Natural Resources Analysis Center. Zegre is an associate professor of forest hydrology and director of the WVU Mountain Hydrology Laboratory.
“Flooding is just one of West Virginia’s critical water issues,” said Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU and one of the conference organizers. Other topics include water policy, the state’s aging drinking water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure, and gas pipelines proposed to run through West Virginia and ways to control any potential environmental and social harm.
A technical poster reception featuring student research will be held at the WVU Downtown Campus Library as part of the Art in the Libraries program, “WATER: A cross-disciplinary exhibit exploring the significance, power and play of life’s critical resource.”
Experts from WVU, West Virginia Rural Water Association, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be presenting.
“This is a chance for researchers, policy makers, state and federal agency and industry personnel, environmental consultants, and the public learn from one another about what is happening with our waters and how to respond to natural events like hurricanes and human-driven events such as gas well development,” Ziemkiewicz said.
CONTACT: Megan Kruger
West Virginia Water Research Institute
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