Professor calls for review into flood forecast errors

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An independent review needs to be carried out to determine why there were so many errors in the 2011 flood forecasting, says a civil engineering professor at the University of Manitoba.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/09/2011 (4164 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

An independent review needs to be carried out to determine why there were so many errors in the 2011 flood forecasting, says a civil engineering professor at the University of Manitoba.

Jay Doering said there were too many miscalculations involved in the 2011 flood — and he doesn’t know whether the fault lies with human error, Mother Nature, or faulty equipment.

Doering said there were too many instances in which flood forecasting either overestimated or underestimated water flows and river elevations.

“These are not good scenarios to be in,” Doering said. “I think we need to understand what the problem is — instrumentation, people, Mother Nature or all of the above — but I think we need someone else to come in and have a look at how we flood forecast.

“Is it basically state-of-the-art methodology we are using or is it not, and what do we need to do differently?”

Doering, who monitored the 2011 flood and was a frequent media commentator, said there were several instances where the flood forecast failed to match reality:

  • The Red River crested several feet lower and earlier than predicted; millions of dollars were spent needlessly in preparations.
  • The peak flow on the Assiniboine River through Brandon was considerably faster than had been predicted; could have resulted in significant flooding.
  • The breach in the Assiniboine River at Hoop and Holler was unnecessary because flows never reached predicted levels and the flow had crested before the breach was made.
  • Early predictions on Lake Manitoba levels were too low while subsequent predictions were too high.

Doering said an independent analyst — likely an individual or firm from outside Manitoba that has never worked here and never will — must assess whether the flood forecasting tools are adequate.

“The flood forecast didn’t materialize as expected,” Doering said. “They need to understand what the problem is.”

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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