North Carolina DOT develops flood-warning system for roads

May 25, 2022

System to rely on a network of 400 river and stream gauges

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has announced the implementation of an advanced flood-warning system that relies on a network of 400 river and stream gauges throughout the state.

The new system will allow the NCDOT to analyze, map and communicate flood risks to roads, bridges and culverts in real-time. 

The information will then go to NCDOT maintenance staff responding to flooded roads and washed-out culverts, and it will benefit local emergency management officials and the public accessing the department's website for weather-related closures.

“This state-of-the-art warning system our department has created will help us be better prepared for the next major storm," Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette said. “Even though we've had some quiet hurricane seasons recently, we cannot let our guard down."

Researchers at N.C. State University and the National Hurricane Center are predicting an above-average hurricane season, which officially starts June 1.

After Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina in 2018, the state Legislature gave the NCDOT a $2 million grant to develop sophisticated software and install more flood gauges. The system includes an interactive online dashboard and flood mapping based on three-dimensional ground surveys. 

The system will also allow NCDOT to monitor flood conditions for 15,000 bridges and culverts statewide. The agency's Hydraulics Unit has been fine-tuning the system and training staff on it with smaller storms for the past year. 

In addition, the NCDOT has formed a recent partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Renaissance Computing Institute and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence to receive forecast modeling data on how storm surge may affect the state's road network in coastal areas.

Some highway divisions with coastal counties held employee training events this spring to review response and recovery operations. All of the agency's 14 highway divisions also have been taking inventory of supplies, doing maintenance on chainsaws and other equipment, and readying emergency on-call contracts that will supplement what NCDOT employees do in responding to a storm. 


Source: North Carolina Department of Transportation

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