The Harris County Flood Control District has launched its inaugural Flood Warning System mobile website designed for quick and easy access to the Harris County Regional Flood Warning System.
The app can be accessed at www.harriscountyfws.org.
Residents can monitor rainfall and bayou/stream levels near their homes, places of work and daily commute routes on their mobile devices anytime and anywhere by accessing the mobile application.
The Flood Control District urges the public to utilize the mobile website and the information it provides to prepare and take appropriate precautions during periods of heavy rain and flooding.
The system draws information from a network of gages that measure rainfall data and water levels in bayous and major streams throughout Harris County 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The real-time information is available on the Flood Warning System mobile application and website through a user-friendly interactive map.
The district’s flood watch team constantly monitors the data and works during severe weather events to advise the public and local officials of areas that are and could be affected by flooding. The real-time data is used to facilitate making decisions before, during and after storm events to reduce the risk of property damage, injuries and loss of life.
The information also is critical during winter weather and hurricane events.
HOW THE HARRIS COUNTY REGIONAL FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM MOBILE WEBSITE WORKS
By inputting www.harriscountyfws.org, users access the mobile website home page where they can:
- Search for and view a specific address location on the map
- Navigate (zoom in/out, pan, etc.) around the map in a mobile device-friendly manner
- View a specified gage site location on the map and summary details for that site (bayou/stream levels and rainfall data)
- Specify the time period (e.g. 1 hour, 24 hours, 2 days, 7 days, etc.) for bayou/stream level and rainfall data
- View a gage station’s changes in bayou/stream elevation and rainfall accumulation over time (chart, table)
- View gage station sites on the base map for partner agencies (Harris County is the default selection)
- View a map of Harris County and surrounding areas, and watershed areas and boundaries
- View current weather information (air/road temperature, wind direction/speed, etc.)
The mobile website also allows users to link to the system’s full desktop site, which was launched in June 2011. The desktop site has an address input feature that allows users to access current and historical rainfall and stream levels on a county scale or at an individual gage location, to export that information to Excel, and to print information displayed on the screen.
HOW THE FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM WORKS
Real-time information from gages strategically located near bayous and streams throughout the county is transmitted to the Flood Control District’s Flood Warning System and Flood Watch teams.
The data-collecting sensors located within the gages report each time the water levels in bayous and streams rise or fall more than one-tenth of a foot. Those sensors also collect rainfall data. When rainfall amounts reach a certain point – .04-inch of rain – the data is transmitted via radio frequency through a network to the Flood Control District’s Flood Warning System.
In addition, some gages collect data on wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, air temperature, road temperature and humidity.
HISTORY OF THE FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM
The Harris County Flood Warning System launched in 1982 under the direction of the Harris County Flood Control District and included 13 gage stations. The new system was first tested during Hurricane Alicia in 1983 and proved successful in supplying rainfall and stream level data that had previously not been available.
In 1996 the Flood Warning System moved to Houston TranStar under the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which operated and maintained the gages until 2009 when the system was transferred back to the Flood Control District.
From 1983 to 2007, the number of gage stations increased more than tenfold from 13 to 132. The stations were strategically positioned across Harris County to maximize rainfall coverage and obtain water level information at critical locations.
Today the gage network is part of a larger regional gage network that gathers information from selected bayous, streams, and roadways within and adjacent to Harris County. Partners in the larger network include the Texas Department of Transportation, Harris County Toll Road Authority, cities of Houston, Sugar Land and Pearland, the San Jacinto River Authority, Trinity River Authority, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County and Fort Bend County.