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UCAR News Release

2001-12 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 13, 2001

UCAR Tip Sheet: River Floods and Flash Floods

David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
Fax: (303) 497-8610
E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

BOULDER -- After a winter of unusually heavy snow, several rivers may surge out of their banks across North Dakota and Minnesota in the next week and across northern New England later this month. Flooding kills more Americans in a typical year than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning, and this summer will bring the perennial risk of deadly flash floods across the nation. Here is a list of contacts, Web sites, and literature leads to help reporters cover these two important U.S. weather hazards.

Experts on flooding

Roger Pielke Jr., 303-497-8111, rogerp@ucar.edu
NCAR/Environmental and Societal Impacts Group
Specialty: Societal aspects of extreme weather events, including flooding

    A political scientist and an expert on climate-change policy, Pielke has written extensively on how society plans for and deals with flooding. He has addressed the Midwest floods of 1993, the Red River floods of 1997, and the roles of population, wealth, and climate in U.S. flood damage over the last 70 years (see Web links below).

Matthew Kelsch, 303-497-8476, kelsch@ucar.edu
UCAR/Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET)
Specialty: Flood evolution, flash-flood forecasting and training

    Kelsch, a meteorologist, is lead instructor for UCAR-based courses that train National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters in state-of- the-art flood prediction and quantitative forecasts of precipitation. He helped develop the radar-based software now used by the NWS to measure and forecast heavy rainfall.

Kevin Trenberth, 303-497-1318, trenbert@ucar.edu
NCAR/Climate and Global Dynamics Division
Specialty: Global water cycle; impact of climate change on hydrology

    A lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Trenberth has analyzed the global distribution of water vapor and the impacts of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and global warming on the prevalence of drought and floods.

Robert Gall, 303-497-1318, gall@ucar.edu
NCAR/Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division
Specialty: Development of new techniques for predicting heavy rain and snow

    Gall is lead scientist for the U.S. Weather Research Program. One of the key goals of this multiagency effort is to improve quantitative forecasts of rain and snow nationwide.

Eve Gruntfest, 719-262-4058, ecg@mail.uccs.edu
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs/Department of Geography
Specialty: Flash-flood mitigation; societal impacts of warnings and responses

    A geographer, Gruntfest has participated in on-site surveys of a number of major flood disasters, including Colorado's Big Thompson Canyon flood of 1976 and the Midwest floods of 1993. She is the co- editor of Coping with Flash Floods (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001), which examines flash-flood warning and preparedness worldwide.

Mary Fran Myers, 303-492-2150, myersmf@colorado.edu
University of Colorado/Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center
Specialty: Policy responses to floods and other natural hazards

    Myers is codirector of the Natural Hazards Center in Boulder. She is an expert on the National Flood Insurance Program and other federal policies regarding flood control and management.

World Wide Web sites for information on flooding

UCAR Communications Fact Sheet/Flooding

Extreme Weather Sourcebook 2001/Floods

    This NCAR site offers state-by-state rankings of the cost of major weather events. Flood data span the period from 1955 to 1999.

A Social Science Perspective on Flood Events

    Created at UCAR, this Webcast examines how floods, other disasters, and their related warnings affect people's attitudes and actions.

Flash Floods: Forecasting and Decision Making

    This PowerPoint presentation, developed at UCAR, outlines the challenges faced by those who predict flash floods and warn the public about them.

Urban Flooding: It Can Happen in a Flash! [beginning May 2001]

    Visitors to this UCAR-created multimedia site can explore the geography, meteorology, and hydrology that led to the deadly Fort Collins, Colorado, flood of July 1997.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Hydrologic Information Center

    Data and warnings on current river and flash floods; background on historic floods

NOAA Flooding Page

    Links to NOAA background material on flood hazards, safety, and forecast techniques

NOAA North Central River Forecast Center (includes MN, SD, ND)


NOAA Northeast River Forecast Center (New England)

    Both of the above sites offer links to local statements, forecasts, and advice on current and impending floods.

Federal Emergency Management Agency/Spring Flood Watch

    Background on spring flooding, insurance, safety procedures

North Dakota State University/Coping with Floods

    Extensive information on how to limit and deal with flood damage to vehicles, basements, household items, electrical systems, and more.

"Precipitation and Damaging Floods: Trends in the United States, 1932–1997" (Roger Pielke Jr. and Mary Downton, Journal of Climate 13, pp. 3625–3637)

    This study indicates that the growth over recent decades in total U.S. flood damage is related to both climate factors and societal factors. Increased damage is associated with increased population and wealth as well as with increased precipitation.

"Who Decides? Forecasts and Responsibilities in the 1997 Red River Flood"
(Roger Pielke Jr., Applied Behavioral Science Review 7(2), pp. 83–101)

    This paper analyzes the use and misuse of flood forecasts in the catastrophic flood of 1997 in the Red River of the North, in which the 54-foot flood crest at Grand Forks was 5 feet above the crest predicted months earlier.

filename: 93flood.tif

The 1993 floods along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers resulted in more than $20.1 billion in damages (1993 dollars) and prompted close scrutiny of many aspects of flood policies. The above image is available in color at ftp://ftp.ucar.edu/communications. Filename: 93flood.tif.

-The End-

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The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is a not-for-profit university membership consortium which carries out programs to benefit the atmospheric, oceanic, and related sciences. Among other activites, UCAR operates the National Center for Atmospheric Research with National Science Foundation sponsorship.

UCAR > Communications > News Releases > 2001 Search

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Last revised: Fri Apr 13 14:16:39 MDT 2001