Hydrologic Research Center In Carmel Valley Created Flash Flood Early Warning Detection System
9:17 AM, Feb 1, 2012
More than 5,000 people are killed worldwide by flash flooding each year more than lightning, tornadoes or hurricanes and one San Diego-based company is working to save people from flash floods worldwide.
In December 2010, most of Mission Valley including Qualcomm Stadium was flooded. The San Diego River flowed several feet over its banks.Most of the flooding occurred in a short period of time and caught many off guard, including some hotel guests who had to be rescued from raging flood waters using rafts.When flooding occurs in the United States, technology such as radars and satellite images plus warnings issued by the National Weather Service are used to let people know of hazardous weather.However, that is not the case in most countries around the world, until now."If you sum up HRC, we're just trying to help the world with its water related problems," said meteorologist Bob Jubach.Jubach and a team of 10 scientists at the Hydrologic Research Center in Carmel Valley have developed a flash flood early warning detection system.Jubach said he has spent time in many countries asking people how they were warned of flooding waters."They would tell me that, when the water is up to here [chest-level] on me, we know it's time to leave," he said.Since many countries do not have radar systems or weather stations on the ground, Jubach and his team examine images provided by NOAA to calculate where the ground is saturated, how much rain is expected and where the warning should be issued."We have some heavy rains, a little break, [and] then another set of heavy rains," said Jubach, as he pointed to a screen. "It's something that tells me that I would already be issuing flash flood watches or alerts."The system now reaches 700 million people covering 4.5 million square miles worldwide. Their goal is to reach 2.2 billion people with their early flash flood warning systems.They hope to do that by training more people in more countries and giving them the tools to forecast when flash flood warnings should be issued and where.The Hydrologic Research Center is a nonprofit organization that started working on this early warning system after Hurricane Mitch slammed into Central America in 1998. The hurricane dumped 75 inches of rain, causing flash flooding that killed 19,000 people.