RALEIGH, Wake County — When the next hurricane arrives in North Carolina, drivers will be armed with an advanced flood-warning system that relies on a network of 400 river and stream gauges.
The new system will allow the North Carolina Department of Transportation, for the first time, to analyze, map and communicate in real-time any flood risks to roads, bridges and culverts.
Officials said the information will go to NCDOT maintenance staff responding to flooded roads and washed-out culverts, and it will benefit local emergency management officials and the public with timely weather-related closures.
“This state-of-the-art warning system our department has created will help us be better prepared for the next major storm,” Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette said. “Even though we’ve had some quiet hurricane seasons recently, we cannot let our guard down.”
The last major storm to impact the state’s road network was Hurricane Florence in 2018. Researchers at N.C. State University and the National Hurricane Center are predicting an above-average hurricane season, which officially starts June 1.
After Florence, the state Legislature gave the NCDOT a $2 million grant to develop sophisticated software and install more flood gauges. The system, however, mostly taps into existing gauges operated by other agencies, like the N.C. Emergency Management and the U.S. Geological Survey.
In addition, the NCDOT has formed a recent partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Renaissance Computing Institute and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence to receive forecast modeling data on how storm surge may affect the state’s road network in coastal areas.