Major Flood Forecast Gap Repaired for Houston Area

The Takeaway: High resolution data from the Digital Coast show how buildings and infrastructure will be affected by floodwaters.

Local and state officials depend on National Weather Service flood forecasts. Previously, text-only forecasts about river heights were provided, but these forecasts didn’t show potential flood areas.

Several federal and state partners worked together to remedy this situation for several bayous near Houston, Texas. Using high-resolution elevation data from NOAA’s Digital Coast and reliable hydraulic models, the resulting maps show how streets, buildings, airports, and other structures are likely to be impacted by floodwaters. Armed with this information, decision makers are in a better position to safely position assets, determine who to evacuate, and identify safe routes. The maps are also being used for longer-term planning. (2016)

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Partners: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Harris County Flood Control District, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, NOAA National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey