Becoming River Flood SAFER: Cross-Organization Growth of the Integrated Warning Team Paradigm (84)

Jared Allen, NWS, New Braunfels, TX

Katie Landry-Guyton, NWS

Melissa Huffman, NWS

Lara Pagano, City of New Braunfels

Greg Brown, City of New Braunfels



Title: Becoming River Flood SAFER: Cross-Organization Growth of the Integrated Warning Team Paradigm

Authors: Jared Allen1, Katie Landry-Guyton2, Melissa Huffman2, Lara Pagano3, Greg Brown4

Affiliations: 1) NOAA/NWS Austin/San Antonio, TX

2) NOAA/NWS Houston, TX

3) NOAA/NWS Atlanta, GA

4) City of New Braunfels, TX GIS Manager


From 2010 - 2017, a total of 23 flooding events (15 non-tropical and eight tropical cyclone) each caused greater than one billion dollars in damages across the United States. These events accounted for 734 fatalities and $405.9 billion dollars in adjusted damages. In an effort to reduce vulnerability from inland river flooding, the NWS Austin/San Antonio, TX office developed the Situational Awareness for Emergency Response (SAFER) river flooding GIS application to display experimental river flooding extents. During Hurricane Harvey, experimental river flooding extents along the Colorado River were directly inserted into the incident command system of Fayette County, TX. The GIS mapping service and enhanced communication allowed the emergency manager and her response team to execute decisive actions that culminated in 100% evacuation of the resultant flooded area with zero lives lost despite near-record river flooding.

Expanding on the SAFER construct, cross-organization Integrated Warning Team (IWT) growth has occurred through in-person and virtual GIS methodology workshops being conducted with local partners and regional NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs). Local and county municipality partners are now developing their own river flood model extents to assess geospatial vulnerability, enhance response planning, and expand on future table-top exercises. The City of New Braunfels, TX is mapping several river and creek segments for heightened flooding impact awareness for future response planning. Furthermore, river flood modeling results from the NWS Houston, TX WFO suggest inter-basin water transfer occurred from the Colorado Basin to the San Bernard Basin as a result of Hurricane Harvey and this result could have indicated the likelihood of severe flooding on the north side of Wharton, TX. Moreover, river model testing in the NWS Atlanta, GA WFO against AHPS flood extent standards yielded nearly accurate results, yet were completed in a fraction of the time and at near zero cost.

The SAFER project scope is designed to provide an innovative GIS hazard mapping service, support an integrated warning team foundation across the NWS and with core partners, and strengthen the flow of impact-based communication before and during flooding events. Ultimately, the objective of the cross-organization IWT growth for river and inland flooding hazards is to reduce vulnerability while increasing internal and core partner awareness in the Weather-Ready Nation framework.