This past month, the University of Alabama and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have worked together to study the past flood history of the Tennessee Valley to understand the patterns and best prepare for the future. By digging into the earth and looking at the different colors and textures, the researchers can gather all sorts of information about the intensity and size of past floods.
Looking Into the Past
This information proves crucial in understanding the floods of the past. Even after one day of digging, researchers have been able to update previous flood records.
The colors and textures of the different layers of the earth let researchers peek into the past of the region’s flood history. These samples give clues of past floods, and can even show how large these past floods were.
“I think we’ve been able to reveal some information about historical floods like the flood of 1867,” says Lisa Davis, an associate professor of geography at the University of Alabama.
Through the discovery of this information, preparing for the future becomes a whole lot easier.
Preparing for the Future
Miles Yaw, a hydraulic engineer at TVA, states, “It helps us to have better real-time for operational strategies and the river forecast center so that when we get the rainiest February on record like we did this year we can safely operate the river to advert $1.6 billion of flood damage.”
But how does this information help predict the future?
According to the USGS (United States Geological Survey), certain data is needed in order to predict future floods. These can include:
- Amount of rainfall
- The river stage rate of change
- Knowledge regarding the precipitation producing storm
- Knowledge of the river’s drainage characteristics and history
This operation can help save both the sanity and pocketbook of homeowners in the Tennessee Valley area. Flooding brings a host of problems, from large issues like permanently damaging property, to relatively smaller issues like mold development. Mold can still become a large problem as it creeps up quickly (in as few as 48 hours) and can leave permanent damage, causing health concerns and an extra obstacle when trying to sell your house. Not to mention that pollutants and contaminants like mold spores can make it into HVAC systems and circulate through a home seven times a day.
These efforts can help stop history from repeating itself, not only saving the money of the affected citizens, but possibly their lives as well.