Spatial Analysis of High-Resolution Radar Rainfall and Citizen-Reported Flash Flood Data in Ultra-Urban New York City
- What are the spatial characteristics of warm-season rainfall in New York City?
- What are the spatial and temporal characteristics of citizen-reported flooding in New York City?
- Can citizen-reported flooding be related to specific rainfall characteristics or other land use/sewershed characteristics?
- What kind of rainfall causes flooding in New York City?
3. Data and Methodology
3.2. Flood Reports
4. Results and Discussion
4.1. Radar Rainfall Dataset
4.2. Flood Observations
4.3. Rainfall/Flood Interactions
4.4. Significant Flood Events
5. Summary and Conclusions
- Warm-season rainfall is impacted by both the presence of the urban area and complex land–sea boundaries. Urban modification of rainfall appears to be less pronounced than in other regions, but is more observable for large shorter-term (1 h, Figure 5) and flood-producing rainfall (Figure 8) than for large daily rainfall (Figure 5). Urban modification appears to increase short-term rainfall down-wind of the city, but the combination of urban modification and the nearby coast pushes the rainfall maximum over the center of the city.
- Normalized flood reports identify areas of the city with more flood reports per all other reports (Figure 2), and many of the higher flooding areas are similar to areas discussed by local flood experts (Jamaica Bay, southeast Queens, and Staten Island). Spatial variation among normalized flood reports closely resembles a map of the sewer-types throughout the city. Additionally, areas without combined sewers (Jamaica Bay and southeast Queens) exhibit a stronger correlation between spatial flood reports and flow accumulation than does the rest of the city (Table 2), suggesting than surface flow is more important in these areas. Areas with combined sewers appear to have substantially less flooding than areas without, possibly due to the larger carrying-capacity of sewers built for stormwater and sewage and an extended drainage network.
- Flooding type varies throughout the city. The Jamaica Bay area is near the coast and floods occur predominantly in the spring when groundwater tables are highest (Figure 6); these floods are likely to be compound floods where rainfall interacts with groundwater surge. Southeast Queens floods throughout the summer and fall, suggesting that thunderstorms and tropical cyclones create the heavy rain to flood this non-coastal area. Staten Island has more flooding in the winter than other portions of the city. These floods are likely caused by longer-term, large-volume rainfall from extra-tropical cyclones. Staten Island drainage is predominantly surface drainage and may take longer to drain. Flood-type variation between upland and coastal areas indicates that the land–sea boundary impacts both flood-producing rainfall and flooding mechanisms within the city.
- Flood reports appear to be driven by 1-h to 1-day rainfall durations. There are substantially lower correlations (Table 2) between flooding and maximum 30-min rainfall and seasonally-averaged daily rainfall in comparison to the correlations between 1-h, 3-h, and daily maximum rainfall.
- Flood-causing rainfall is substantially less than maximum daily or hourly rainfall (maximum of 30 mm versus a maximum of 55 mm, Figure 5 and Figure 7). City-averaged rain rates of as little as 2.2 mm in one day and 2.75 mm h over 30 min can produce local flooding (with borough-wide rates of 6 mm in a day and 10.46 mm h over 30 min). The correlation between city-wide rainfall in the sub-daily and daily time-periods is low, suggesting that floods in NYC are caused by either intense, localized short-term rain or long-term city-wide rain, but rarely both.
- Flood reports, made by residents or by experts, are an important resource in an ultra-urban city with no surface channels and a dense population. Methods of utilizing these reports are necessarily different than methods for stream gaging flood identification. Report timing may be influenced by resident behavior rather than the diurnal cycle of flooding (Figure 7), but the geographic nature of the data allows for spatial analyses which are not possible with stream gage point measurements.
Conflicts of Interest
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|Year||Average Bias||% Radar Record Completeness||Average Number of Gages|
|Citywide||Jamaica Bay||Southeast Queens|
|Daily-averaged rainfall for entire study period||−0.20||0.09||0.02|
|Daily-averaged rain for the 50 highest 24-h rainfall days||0.30||0.25||0.16|
|Daily-averaged rain for the 50 highest 3-h rainfall days||0.34||0.31||0.17|
|Daily-averaged rain for the 50 highest 1-h days||0.26||0.27||0.12|
|Daily-averaged rain for the 50 highest 30-min rainfall days||0.11||0.26||0.08|
|Impervious surface percentage||0.32||0.38||0.11|
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Smith, B.; Rodriguez, S. Spatial Analysis of High-Resolution Radar Rainfall and Citizen-Reported Flash Flood Data in Ultra-Urban New York City. Water 2017, 9, 736. https://doi.org/10.3390/w9100736
Smith B, Rodriguez S. Spatial Analysis of High-Resolution Radar Rainfall and Citizen-Reported Flash Flood Data in Ultra-Urban New York City. Water. 2017; 9(10):736. https://doi.org/10.3390/w9100736Chicago/Turabian Style
Smith, Brianne, and Stephanie Rodriguez. 2017. "Spatial Analysis of High-Resolution Radar Rainfall and Citizen-Reported Flash Flood Data in Ultra-Urban New York City" Water 9, no. 10: 736. https://doi.org/10.3390/w9100736