Modeling Flash Floods in Small Ungaged Watersheds using Embedded GIS
Knocke, Ethan William
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Effective prediction of localized flash flood regions for an approaching rainfall event requires an in-depth knowledge of the land surface and stream characteristics of the forecast area. Flash Flood Guidance (FFG) is currently formulated once or twice a day at the county level by River Forecast Centers (RFC) in the U.S. using modeling systems that contain coarse, generalized land and stream characteristics and hydrologic runoff techniques that often are not calibrated for the forecast region of a given National Weather Service (NWS) office. This research investigates the application of embedded geographic information systems (GIS) modeling techniques to generate a localized flash flood model for individual small watersheds at a five minute scale and tests the model using historical case storms to determine its accuracy in the FFG process. This model applies the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) curve number (CN) method and synthetic dimensionless unit hydrograph (UH), and Muskingum stream routing modeling technique to formulate flood characteristics and rapid update FFG for the study area of interest. The end result of this study is a GIS-based Flash Flood Forecasting system for ungaged small watersheds within a study area of the Blacksburg NWS forecast region. This system can then be used by forecasters to assess which watersheds are at higher risk for flooding, how much additional rainfall would be needed to initiate flooding, and when the streams of that region will overflow their banks. Results show that embedding these procedures into GIS is possible and utilizing the GIS interface can be helpful in FFG analysis, but uncertainty in CN and soil moisture can be problematic in effectively simulating the rainfall-runoff process at this greatly enhanced spatial and temporal scale.
- Masters Theses