3D Visualization Tools For Clear Communication of Flood Risks

Hassan Kasraie, Kasraie Consulting, CA, USA


In Southern California, as in many parts of the world, an intricate network of natural and engineered features constitutes the foundation of the region's drainage systems. Most municipalities in this area are situated in flat coastal or riverine zones, where sediment-laden mountain runoff converge, posing significant public safety hazards.

Three-dimensional (3D) visualization tools such as Google Earth and StormCity together present a unique solution, offering not only above-surface visualization capabilities but also the ability to see subterranean drainage system hydraulics, tracking changes over both time and distance from critical locations. This integrated system streamlines the entire process, from drainage model development to public outreach, greatly enhancing our ability to communicate flood risks effectively.

This presentation delves into our efforts within a sample project area, shedding light on the advantages and challenges we encountered. It also illuminates the insights gleaned from the results and presents feasible options for community assistance moving forward.

Traditionally, most municipal storm drains and conveyance channels were designed to handle clear-flow flood events occurring once every 10 to 50 years, with excess water dispersing into surrounding streets. However, changing meteorological conditions have led to increased storm intensities, resulting in reduced efficiency of these systems, some of which were constructed more than half a century ago.

Due to the current political and economic climate, finding the resources to upgrade these systems takes a back seat to other problems present. It is necessary for communities to go beyond compiling just another memo or report to obtain stakeholder and decision maker buy-in/funding for public safety upgrades. Kasraie Consulting was chosen to assist one such community in Southern California in this effort.

Based on the amount of data required to be compiled and the complexity of the system, a combination of the latest two-dimensional hydrologic/hydraulic software (PCSWMM 2D, TUFLOW) and 3D visualization using Computational Hydraulics Institute (CHI) StormCity were chosen to make their case.

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