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Effective flood channel geometry may be changed by growth of vegetation, accumulation of ice or debris, or construction of bridges, buildings, or levees within the flood channel. Coincidence Extreme flood events often result from coincidence such as unusually intense, warm rainfall melting heavy snow pack, producing channel obstructions from floating ice, and releasing small impoundments like beaver dams.
Recent field measurements during the —11 Queensland floods showed that any criterion solely based upon the flow velocity, water depth or specific momentum cannot account for the hazards caused by velocity and water depth fluctuations. Culverted fills may be converted to impoundments if the culverts become blocked by debris, and flow may be diverted along streets. Several studies have looked into the flow patterns and redistribution in streets during storm events and the implication on flood modelling.
Floods also frequently damage power transmission and sometimes power generation , which then has knock-on effects caused by the loss of power. This includes loss of drinking water treatment and water supply, which may result in loss of drinking water or severe water contamination. It may also cause the loss of sewage disposal facilities.
Lack of clean water combined with human sewage in the flood waters raises the risk of waterborne diseases , which can include typhoid , giardia , cryptosporidium , cholera and many other diseases depending upon the location of the flood.
Damage to roads and transport infrastructure may make it difficult to mobilize aid to those affected or to provide emergency health treatment. Flood waters typically inundate farm land, making the land unworkable and preventing crops from being planted or harvested, which can lead to shortages of food both for humans and farm animals.
Entire harvests for a country can be lost in extreme flood circumstances.
Some tree species may not survive prolonged flooding of their root systems. The impact on those affected may cause psychological damage to those affected, in particular where deaths, serious injuries and loss of property occur. Urban flooding can cause chronically wet houses, leading to the growth of indoor mold and resulting in adverse health effects, particularly respiratory symptoms.
In the United States , industry experts estimate that wet basements can lower property values by 10—25 percent and are cited among the top reasons for not downloading a home. Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA , almost 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a flooding disaster. Flood waters provide much needed water resources in arid and semi-arid regions where precipitation can be very unevenly distributed throughout the year and kills pests in the farming land.
Freshwater floods particularly play an important role in maintaining ecosystems in river corridors and are a key factor in maintaining floodplain biodiversity. For some fish species, an inundated floodplain may form a highly suitable location for spawning with few predators and enhanced levels of nutrients or food. Bird populations may also profit from the boost in food production caused by flooding.
The viability of hydropower , a renewable source of energy, is also higher in flood prone regions. Flood safety planning Aftermath of flooding in Colorado, In the United States, the National Weather Service gives out the advice Turn Around, Don't Drown" for floods; that is, it recommends that people get out of the area of a flood, rather than trying to cross it.
At the most basic level, the best defense against floods is to seek higher ground for high-value uses while balancing the foreseeable risks with the benefits of occupying flood hazard zones. Structures, such as bridges, that must unavoidably be in flood hazard areas should be designed to withstand flooding. Areas most at risk for flooding could be put to valuable uses that could be abandoned temporarily as people retreat to safer areas when a flood is imminent.
Planning for flood safety involves many aspects of analysis and engineering, including: observation of previous and present flood heights and inundated areas, statistical, hydrologic , and hydraulic model analyses, mapping inundated areas and flood heights for future flood scenarios, long-term land use planning and regulation, engineering design and construction of structures to control or withstand flooding, intermediate-term monitoring, forecasting , and emergency-response planning, and short-term monitoring, warning , and response operations.
Each topic presents distinct yet related questions with varying scope and scale in time, space, and the people involved. Attempts to understand and manage the mechanisms at work in floodplains have been made for at least six millennia.
Defenses such as detention basins , levees ,  bunds , reservoirs , and weirs are used to prevent waterways from overflowing their banks. When these defenses fail, emergency measures such as sandbags or portable inflatable tubes are often used to try to stem flooding. Coastal flooding has been addressed in portions of Europe and the Americas with coastal defenses , such as sea walls , beach nourishment , and barrier islands.
In the riparian zone near rivers and streams, erosion control measures can be taken to try to slow down or reverse the natural forces that cause many waterways to meander over long periods of time. Flood controls, such as dams, can be built and maintained over time to try to reduce the occurrence and severity of floods as well.
In the United States, the U. Army Corps of Engineers maintains a network of such flood control dams. In areas prone to urban flooding, one solution is the repair and expansion of man-made sewer systems and stormwater infrastructure. Another strategy is to reduce impervious surfaces in streets, parking lots and buildings through natural drainage channels, porous paving , and wetlands collectively known as green infrastructure or sustainable urban drainage systems SUDS.
Areas identified as flood-prone can be converted into parks and playgrounds that can tolerate occasional flooding.
Ordinances can be adopted to require developers to retain stormwater on site and require buildings to be elevated, protected by floodwalls and levees , or designed to withstand temporary inundation. Property owners can also invest in solutions themselves, such as re-landscaping their property to take the flow of water away from their building and installing rain barrels , sump pumps , and check valves. Analysis of flood information A series of annual maximum flow rates in a stream reach can be analyzed statistically to estimate the year flood and floods of other recurrence intervals there.
Similar estimates from many sites in a hydrologically similar region can be related to measurable characteristics of each drainage basin to allow indirect estimation of flood recurrence intervals for stream reaches without sufficient data for direct analysis.
Physical process models of channel reaches are generally well understood and will calculate the depth and area of inundation for given channel conditions and a specified flow rate, such as for use in floodplain mapping and flood insurance. Conversely, given the observed inundation area of a recent flood and the channel conditions, a model can calculate the flow rate.
Applied to various potential channel configurations and flow rates, a reach model can contribute to selecting an optimum design for a modified channel. Various reach models are available as of , either 1D models flood levels measured in the channel or 2D models variable flood depths measured across the extent of a floodplain.
Physical process models of complete drainage basins are even more complex.
Although many processes are well understood at a point or for a small area, others are poorly understood at all scales, and process interactions under normal or extreme climatic conditions may be unknown. Basin models typically combine land-surface process components to estimate how much rainfall or snowmelt reaches a channel with a series of reach models. For example, a basin model can calculate the runoff hydrograph that might result from a year storm, although the recurrence interval of a storm is rarely equal to that of the associated flood.
Basin models are commonly used in flood forecasting and warning, as well as in analysis of the effects of land use change and climate change. Flood forecasting Main articles: Flood forecasting and flood warning Anticipating floods before they occur allows for precautions to be taken and people to be warned  so that they can be prepared in advance for flooding conditions.
For example, farmers can remove animals from low-lying areas and utility services can put in place emergency provisions to re-route services if needed. Emergency services can also make provisions to have enough resources available ahead of time to respond to emergencies as they occur. People can evacuate areas to be flooded. In order to make the most accurate flood forecasts for waterways , it is best to have a long time-series of historical data that relates stream flows to measured past rainfall events.
Radar estimates of rainfall and general weather forecasting techniques are also important components of good flood forecasting. In areas where good quality data is available, the intensity and height of a flood can be predicted with fairly good accuracy and plenty of lead time.
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