Pumps don't fail us now!: Intense Rainfall Rates in Modern New Orleans

Authors: Christopher Ard*, City of New Orleans
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Climatology and Meteorology, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: New Orleans, hazards, flooding, climate change, microclimate, social media, crowd-sourcing, GIS, meteorology,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon D1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Parts of New Orleans experienced extreme rainfall events that caused water to enter houses, cars to become flooded, businesses to be swamped, politicians to be removed from office, and has left the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board on soggy ground during the summer of 2017. The residents of this great city have sought answers from their political leaders while those leaders have struggled to come up with an easy to explain answer. But what is it about these floods that are different? And even if the big, bad government can figure out the answer, would the residents ever believe them? This paper discusses the rain events of the summer of 2017 in New Orleans and the use of crowd-sourced weather data and social media in New Orleans to find hidden micro-weather events that aren’t easily detected by systems developed for the rest of the United States. The City of New Orleans is a unique, man-made environment reliant on a pumping system to remove all of its storm water through a complicated system of 100+ year-old catch basins owned and maintained by several levels of government. Through a local weather blog, several private weather stations, and social media I tell the story that New Orleans needs to hear—New Orleans is unique! It’s not the amount of rain we need to worry about…it’s the intense rainfall rates. New Orleans needs to invest in a system of rain gauges that will monitor rainfall rates by neighborhood to warn of impending floods.

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