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Responding to seven feet of rain

On December 13, 2023 Tropical Cyclone Jasper crossed the Queensland Coast at around 8:00PM as a Category 2 event. While local communities responded well to the Tropical Cyclone and the wind it brought with it, intense rainfall accompanied TC Jasper and continued to fall over a wide area. Some locations have experienced over two metres (around seven feet) of rain. Major flooding occurred quickly, and over a large area. This severely impacted areas such as Cairns, Daintree Village, Mossman and Wujal Wujal – inundating homes, damaging roads, and cutting access to power, remote communities, a hospital and even a major airport.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology map of Queensland with seven-day rainfalls

Earlier this year we wrote about the current El Nino phase and the fact that despite assessments of lower risks floods can and do occur. Headlines at the start of 2023 proclaimed Australia could swing from three years of La Niña to hot and dry El Niño. The reality is, we have just seen record breaking rain and flooding, and this is further evidence that extreme flood events can happen irrespective of the phase of ENSO cycle. We must always be prepared for severe weather and flooding. And in a changing climate, we need to expect the unexpected.

FloodMapp provides live flood impact mapping services to the Queensland government, and both public and private critical infrastructure owners. Our ForeCast, NowCast and PostCast services are ingested as live digital feeds into an esri ArcGIS Enterprise platform. FloodMapp’s services support live situational awareness on the potential impact to people, property and critical infrastructure, delivered at state-wide at scale. The live flood intelligence feeds, maps and accompanying data enable key combat agencies to work in concert with weather agencies (BoM) and across many functions and all levels to government to plan, respond and recover from flood events. When the primary focus of emergency agencies is to keep people safe and reduce damage the speed of situational awareness is vital. TO support this access to FloodMapp data enables:

  • Creation of a live profile of flood extents at State-wide scale;

  • The ability to identify and target areas of major flood risk;

  • Creation of dynamic situational profiles;

  • Modelling flood consequence in real time - to plan, monitor and adapt; and

  • Immediate aggregation and assessment of flood impacts.

Image 2: While data is ingested and visualized digitally it also supports the creation and maintenance of dynamic situation analysis for ready reference (sourced from Queensland Police Service).

The second key benefit of live mapping is it enables collaboration with emergency authorities and to share live data from the ground.

Live sharing enables FloodMapp to rapidly consume images, damage assessments, request for assistance etc from the impact area to continuously review and validate model performance.

Collaboration is critical to creating the feedback loops from ‘on the ground’ data to link to rapid validation and continuous improvement.

Image 3: Access to live impact data supports the development of tools to deliver validation and support ongoing commitment to partnership and continuous improvement (sourced from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services)

FloodMapp’s delivery of live mapping of floods to emergency authorities is changing the way we can understand the extent, consequences, and impacts of flood events. Building on this to create a two-way feedback loops - live situational awareness at state-wide scale with real time impact feedback is now a reality. This live situational intelligence on impact to people, property and critical infrastructure has proved vital for informing the Premier and the Prime Minister on the situation as it unfolded, to support a rapid response and recovery with targeted distribution of resources.

We can now rapidly capture, analyse, and validate quality data and deliver our vision to solve the wicked emergency problems – citizen safety and reduced damage.

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