KARS Recreates a Texas Flood

Published on November 9, 2010 by Jude Kastens

Tags: Flooding

UPDATED 10 Nov 2010 -- KARS researchers Kevin Dobbs & Jude Kastens went on a road trip to Austin, Texas, during the last week of October 2010. Their mission was to attend the 2010 Texas GIS Forum organized by the Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS), which took place at the U. of Texas campus on October 27-28. On October 28, Dr. Kastens delivered a presentation entitled “Reconstructing the Texas Flood of 1938.” Co-presenters were Kevin Dobbs and Melinda Luna (of TNRIS).

During July 1938, intense rainfall across several counties in central Texas produced record flooding along the San Saba River and Brady Creek, in addition to other waterways. The floodwaters had a devastating impact on many local communities, including the cities of Brady (McCulloch County), San Saba (San Saba County), and Menard (Menard County). More information about this historic flood event can be found in Flash Floods in Texas, by Jonathan Burnett (2008, Texas A&M University Press).

Using elevation data and the Kansas Biological Survey’s FLDPLN (“Floodplain”) model, Kastens & Dobbs simulated flood depth and flood extent associated with this 1938 flood event for approximately 111 miles of San Saba River reach and approximately 33 miles of Brady Creek reach. The FLDPLN model was calibrated using high water mark data collected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the time of the event and provided to KBS by TNRIS, which is part of the Texas Water Development Board.

These results were developed as a demonstration of FLDPLN model capabilities, at the request of TNRIS. Communities in the study area will be able to use the resulting flood maps for developmental planning guidance and for flood emergency preparedness.

Please visit the project website for more information about the data and analysis. The flood mapping results are featured in a web mapping application that allows for close inspection in a convenient GIS-enabled website. A web mapping service is also available for users wanting to view the data in their own GIS environment.

The FLDPLN model was originally developed at KBS for river valley identification and “depth to flood” mapping. In addition to flood event simulation, the FLDPLN model is currently used by KBS scientists for emergency response applications, wetland identification and analysis, river valley morphology assessment, lake extent mapping, and as a guide for floodplain geometry specification in hydraulic analyses.

For more information, contact Jude Kastens (jkastens@ku.edu).