December 2020

Issue 58

Rates of Rise - What really matters?

The rate of rise of floodwaters is an important dynamic of flooding to comprehend for effective emergency planning and risk assessment. Many of us appreciate that rate of rise is how fast floodwaters are rising, but do we all appreciate there is not a single rate of rise parameter?

There are different "rates" that may provide better contextual intelligence than others. For example, it may be more important to understand not how fast the river is rising, but how quickly a part of the floodplain is inundated once inundation commences.

Common rates of rise that can be readily analysed include:

  • Peak rate of rise - A commonly calculated parameter indicating the fastest rate of rise across the flood hydrograph. Care is needed to ensure that the maximum rate is not a "blip" that only appears for a short period of time skewing your analysis.
  • Average rate of rise - Another commonly calculated parameter that smooths the rate if rise calculation over the specified period. This is useful in broadly categorising various parts of the floodplain in terms of "rapid, moderate, slow" rates.
  • Total amount of rise - A useful parameter dealing in the absolute amount of rise, rather than the rate.
  • How long to rise XXX metres - A somewhat hybrid parameter than shows how long it takes for floodwaters to rise the specified amount. This can be useful in trigger and consequence analysis.

To add further sophistication to your query, you may wish to refine the time over which the analysis is carried out. For example:

  • Initial YYY hours - do not start the analysis until the area is first inundated. This type of addition to your query helps you understand just how quickly an area is inundated independently to the how floodwaters are rising in the river. For example, if a levee surrounds a town and is overtopped, the rate of rise in the main channel could be fairly "benign" but the rate of rise inside the levee could be catastrophic!
  • Minimum depth threshold - analysis does not start until there is a certain amount of flooding. This allows you to address subsequent issues once primary triggers have occurred such as "once floodwaters can be no longer driven into, how long until people are no longer able to wade to safety?"

Combining the various types of rise with the refinement parameters can let you do some quite powerful combination analysis, such as "once floodwaters start to rise at a location, how long is it until they are at least 1m deep?".

Even better, with waterRIDE you can do this analysis across the entire floodplain, not just at specific points providing a quantitative understanding of rates of rise everywhere as shown in the figure below.

You can find the Rate of Rise analysis tools in the Flood Intelligence  section of the Analyse panel.

Total amount of rise over the first 1 hour.

waterRIDE CLOUD - 6 Months On - What have we learnt?

waterRIDE CLOUD was released 6 months ago in the midst of nation/world-wide COVID19 lockdowns. Since then we've been using Cloud on a daily basis as we continue to largely work from home. We've compiled a list of what we've been enjoying about waterRIDE CLOUD, as fairly heavy users:

  1. Performance - High speed cloud processors combined with ultra-throughput storage means blistering speed. We are still impressed with how fast things happen on the cloud. As the cloud does all the work, even weaker machines (such as the 10yr old family i3) perform as if they were modellers machines!
  2. Shareability - On many projects we find ourselves just sending a temporary logon to our clients to allow them to review their datasets and explore the issues we are encountering, without any hard drive, USB stick or dropbox in sight!
  3. Collaboration - With the waterRIDE team spread across multiple geographies, and all of us still working from home, it's been superb to instantly provide colleagues access to data or projects via a logon.
  4. Accessibility/Convenience - With some staff moving between a few locations, we've found it great to logon from any machine, anywhere, and continue working uninterrupted and with the knowledge we didn't leave a hard drive somewhere.
  5. Proper Cloud App - All too often the experience of the Cloud is "limited" functionality compared to desktop apps. The one waterRIDE framework on which waterRIDE CLOUD and Classic (desktop) are built means that the experience on the cloud is the same as that on the desktop. This means that when working with waterRIDE on the cloud, you have access to all of the functionality and features you use in the Classic version. 
  6. Workflow - We've found that the best way to think about working on the cloud is that it's just "someone elses machine". Whilst it feels like it's your machine, you need to remember that it's not. If you have some local datasets to work with, either upload them to the cloud, or check-out a license and work from your machine.

Whilst we've listed some of the positives, the biggest negative we've encountered is internet access. Obviously, if your data is on the cloud you need internet to access it. Whilst we've found the cloud platform itself to be very stable, some of the team live in rural areas with "lower grade" (polite) internet services which has led to many a phone hotspot being used in anger.

It does highlight a salient point, if you are running "mission critical" systems on the cloud, such as a flood forecasting system, you should ensure you have a backup that can be run locally. That leads to another positive, the one waterRIDE framework means you can have the same setup running in waterRIDE Classic from a battery powered laptop, should complete disaster strike. Food for thought.

See our FAQ's for more information.

Missed It? waterRIDE Webinars

Sharing flood information without transferring any data: If you missed our recent webinar, you can watch a recording of the event here. The webinar, presented by Cameron Druery, explored ways in which flooding information can be shared and communicated via the cloud without any transfer of datasets. The primary message of the webinar was that the transfer of understanding is key, rather than the transfer of information.

waterRIDE CLOUD Launch: In this webinar, Cameron Druery showed what waterRIDE CLOUD is all about as well as delved into some of the philosophy behind it's design and where waterRIDE is headed. You can watch a replay here.

Christmas "Office" Closure

As 2020 draws to a close, we look forward to taking a well-earnt break. Our offices (well, the study door at least) will be closed from COB 23rd December and reopen on 4th January, 2021.

We wish everyone a safe and relaxing break, and look forward to working with you in the new year!

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