North Carolina unveils early flood-warning system for roads

North Carolina unveils early flood-warning system for roads

10:31am May 25, 2022
This stream gauge over the Neuse River on N.C. 42 in Johnston County is one of several the NCDOT will rely on to gather data for a new early food-warning system. Photo courtesy of NCDOT.

As North Carolina prepares for the coming hurricane season, the state Department of Transportation has announced the development of a new early-flood warning system. 

The new system will allow the NCDOT’s 14 highway divisions to more quickly map and analyze flood risks to roads, bridges, and culverts, and pass those warnings on to motorists in real-time.

According to a news release, the system will rely on a network of 400 river and stream gauges. Information will be passed on to department maintenance staff and emergency officials, who can then notify the public of weather-related closures through the DriveNC.gov website.

The technology was developed after Hurricane Florence struck in 2018, when the state legislature gave the NCDOT a $2 million grant to develop sophisticated software and install more flood gauges.

Matt Lauffer is an NCDOT engineer. He says the state will benefit from inter-agency cooperation that will ensure safer outcomes during major storms.

"I think the great part of the story is it’s a partnership, right, it’s a partnership with Emergency Management as well as DOT, so you’ve got two cabinet agencies working well together," says Lauffer. 

The NCDOT will also work with UNC-Chapel Hill and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to analyze forecast modeling data on how storm surge may affect coastal areas.

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