Flood of 1994 could happen again - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Flood of 1994 could happen again

July 9, 2004


by Meteorologist Kent Williams

Tallahassee-- The flooding of 1994 does not want to be relived by anyone. But many hydrological forecasting advances have surfaced in as the last decade, and others are in development designed to give residents more warning.

It's 9:00AM and forecasters are looking ahead to the day's storm possibilities. But hydrologist Joel Lanier is also looking back, to size up what more rain would do to our current situation.

A hydrologist also has to be a meteorologist, geologist and biologist-- meaning he has to take into account all of those sciences to see how storm water runoff will impact the area. Doing his job better means using better technology, like faster river gauges.

"Instead of dialing into a modem every six hours, we will now can the info from satellite every hour," said NWS Hydrologist Joel Lanier.

And better computer models that are being developed to take into account the shape of a river channel. "The floodwave model uses hydrodynamics and channel geometry to model where the water is going to go."

Laser detected topography maps will help forecasters better picture the terrain down to increments of one foot to predict where the water will head, and new street level mapping will soon be on line to help people see in an easy to understand format what is happening.

But forecasters stress the 500 year flood will come around again. "The next time this happens it will be worse, just because of the economic impact and the population growth," said NWS Meteorologist Paul Duval. "That is just the way it is going to be."

So better communication is in place between local and state agencies, and river dam failure disaster drills are planned to better respond to the worst mother nature has to offer.

The flood disaster drill occurs every five years. The next drill will take place at the Georgia Power Dam on Lake Blackshear August 17th.

posted at 3:20PM by dave.miller@walb.com