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Live report from Hurricane Emergency Operations Center

August 28, 2017

The University of Texas, Austin Chair in Civil Engineering and the retired Austin Fire Department Chief of Staff are contributors to the Technical Unit, which advised the Planning Unit for response, rescue and recovery to Hurricane Harvey. The category 4 tropical cyclone made landfall at San Jose Island, Texas. However, unprecedented amounts of rainfall were forecasted and later caused catastrophic flooding in the Houston metropolitan area.

Maidment and Evans gave a live update on the National Water Model. Designed to prevent and respond to flooding risks, the model generates forecasts for flood impacts at stream and street level. Short- and medium-range forecasts are intended to serve federal and local government agencies who work with emergency managers, watershed authorities, industry, scientists and many more stakeholders. Outputs include approximate flood levels and address flooding using 18-hour and 10-day forecasts.


Developed by Esri and KISTERS, dashboards displayed a significant volume of information critical to first responders: hydrographs of forecasted flows and precipitation, computed stage or water level, and evaluations of forecast data versus actual gauge measurements on all 100,000 stream reaches in Texas. Maps of sentinel sites (river basins with high probability of being severely impacted by extreme weather events) and inundation maps were generated. The technology stack also ingests official forecasts by the National Weather Service (NWS).

The decision-support dashboards represent significant progress from the presentations Dr. Maidment and Kristin Tolle of Microsoft Research delivered at the 2013 KISTERS North America User Group meeting. The National Water Model dashboards are intended for trained first responders; it is not like the public-facing Flemish Water Portal which Esri and KISTERS also developed for flood warning.

Read more about the National Water Model and innovative abilities to monitor entire floodplains across different jurisdictions.

A staple of the User Group meetings remains the presentations by clients who share insightful approaches to using KISTERS technologies to resolve issues regarding data analysis, management and exchange.