Descriptive analysis of the impacts of tropical storm Hermine (2010) on major watersheds in Austin Texas

Date

2016

Authors

Villarreal, Ursula Lashawn

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Abstract

Flooding caused by hurricanes, thunderstorms, and tropical storms events continue to lead the nation in producing the most damage, fatalities, and injuries each year. In Texas, the larger sized, more urbanized cities, such as those located in Flash Flood Alley, are extremely susceptible to high damage risks due to heavy rains and steep terrains, which lead to flooding. Austin, centralized in Flash Flood Alley, experienced record-breaking rainfall and considerable amounts of damage during Tropical Storm Hermine, which occurred September 7, and 8, 2010. This study investigates the storm event and conducts a descriptive analysis of the damages that occurred in major watersheds in Austin. Damage report information on flooding complaints, high water rescues, and vehicle crashes during Tropical Storm Hermine were obtained from the City of Austin, the Flood Early Warning System, and the Watershed Protection Department. Geospatial analysis was performed to determine the prominent locations of these damages and to provide insight into the factors that influence the impacts of the storm event. Data analysis reveals that the majority of the damages were concentrated in six watersheds. Additional information on the watersheds were collected from the City of Austin to determine potential physical characteristics leading to increased damages. The data indicates that while certain attributes, such as population density and rainfall depths from Tropical Storm Hermine, impact the magnitude of damages that occurred in a watershed. Other factors, such as impervious cover percentage and the number of streams discharging into a watershed, did not have significant associations to the magnitude of damages in each watershed. Various measures that can be taken to reduce or alleviate the impacts of severe storm events including offering public outreach educational programs that emphasize effective flood awareness and flood safety, improving weather forecasts before and during a storm, providing specific warning on the areas that would be affected by flooding, and placing barricades to prevent driving into flood waters.

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Keywords

Austin, Texas, impacts, Tropical Storm Hermine, watersheds

Citation

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering