Drops of knowledge

Climate change, Inland water, Urban water

How Cloud solutions can help cities predict flash floods more accurately

Flooded road near Richmond, London

Heavy rainfall and floods impose considerable consequences to communities and infrastructure, resulting in death or injury, affecting livelihood, damaging roads, property, water networks and more.

According to a United Nations report, in the ten years from 1995 to 2015, floods accounted for 43% of all documented natural disasters, affecting 2.3 billion people, killing 157,000 and causing US$662 billion in damage. The UNESCO World Development Report further states that climate change, increasing population, loss of wetlands and rising sea levels are expected put 2 billion people at risk of flood disasters by 2050.

The devastating effects of flash floods

Flash floods, especially, often take us by surprise with little or no warning time, giving city authorities barely any time to react. With increasing urbanisation and greater weather uncertainties, authorities are finding it critical to ensure that their drainage system remains robust and adaptable.

In October 2018, up to seven months’ rain fell overnight in Southwestern France in what local weather authorities termed as some of the worst flash floods the Aude river has seen in more than a century. At least 12 people were reportedly killed, and thousands of people affected in the heavy rainfall.

Using technology to boost flood preparedness plans

More than ever, authorities are realising the value of technology to predict flood events and manage their impacts on people, operations, assets and infrastructures. An example is utilising Cloud solutions that provide forecasts of extreme precipitation-related risks to ensure preventive actions are taken in a timely manner. Such Cloud solutions are incredibly useful as they can combine past, near real-time and future precipitation data and generate automated warnings when conditions are met. Local forecasts and warnings can also be tailored to the areas of interest, with results accessible through a web browser.

Flash flood warnings five days in advance

When it comes to flash floods and heavy rain fall events, it has been hard – until now –to predict them on an exact local level for cities to take preventive actions swiftly. A new flash flood index  feature in the HydroMaster Cloud solution will enable accurate forecasting of flash flood threats and translate extreme weather data into actionable information on the ground. Such an index gives local information for a city’s own areas of interest and as a result, it is much more useful compared to services that only provides generic information. Using the Flash Flood Index in combination with local knowledge will allow authorities to assess the potential local impact of the expected precipitation event, even days ahead.