Flood inundation mapping: Safety at your fingertips

By Michelle Costanza

June 19, 2014 Updated Jun 19, 2014 at 11:55 PM EDT

Conklin, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Flooding threats are far too common in the Twin Tiers, but a new website could help put those threats into perspective, and even help save lives.

Flood inundation maps are a tool that enable people to interpret exactly what flooding could mean for their own property.

The information the mapping can generate -- from current levels to river forecasts, water depth, gauge information and more -- makes it an interactive tool that experts say is worth learning how to use.

"To have pre-planning of where the water may go for whatever stage flood is predicted, they (residents) can identify things on their property that need to be moved ahead of time," said Service Hydrologist Jim Brewster, of the National Weather Service.

Users can pinpoint their home on a map, zoom in, click around and get specific details for their exact location.

The aerial view of the flood basin helps emergency managers and county officials to see what roads may be impacted by an event and assess flood risk to critical infrastructures.

"There's a very sophisticated modeling approach that has to go on to develop these, it's done by hydraulic engineers, there are layers upon layers of information," Brewster said.

The layers of past data coupled with real-time information is what makes the mapping so reliable.

"If people hear a forecast of say, 20 feet, they can say 'Well, that makes it up to about halfway up my backyard, I might need to move a something from the shed, but it's not going to make my house.' Now, if it's a bigger flood, they can say, 'That's getting close to my house. I'm gonna have to get everything out, including myself.'" Brewster said.

The maps were previously available through the Susquehanna River Basin Commission website, but have only recently been updated and integrated onto the Binghamton National Weather Service site.

Brewster said it is important to get familiar with the maps by clicking through the product to gather information specific to your purposes.

Follow this link to be taken to the flood inundation mapping tool.