Flash Flood Deaths: What happened and how it could be avoided
Five months after four people, including a mother and her 2-year-old daughter drowned in Fort Worth flash flooding, the city has launched an interactive map designed to provide drivers will real-time warnings about dangerous roads.
The map shows conditions at 52 low water crossings known to collect water during heavy rain. Those spots could be dangerous during flash flooding. Just 1 foot of water will float most vehicles and 2 feet of moving water can have enough power to sweep a car away.
Drivers can see three stages of flood road conditions: a green “NONE” indicator for no threat, a yellow “CAUTION” prompt for potentially hazardous conditions and a red “AVOID” marker for streets where water has overtopped the road.
Previously the city relies on a series of weather stations and high-water warning lights at dozens of low-water crossings. Weather data is collected at 39 existing and 20 new dedicated weather stations, along with stations belonging to regional partners.
The map was developed using a Texas Water Development Board grant is the first step in what the city hopes is a more robust warning system, said Ranjan Muttiah, a senior city engineer.
Tentative talks have begun to partner with the North Central Texas Council of Governments for a regional flood map. Muttiah would also like to see real-time images and conditions available through social media and in an app or integrated into Google Maps or Waze.
Last year Austin introduced a flash flood camera system with an interactive map. Like a traffic camera, near real-time images provide updates on water levels at flood-prone crossings while the map shows which roads are dangerous or impassable.