Oklahoma Water Science Center
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Flood Database for Oklahoma: A web-mapping application for historical flood information organization and access
In cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Bridge and Survey Divisions
By S. Jerrod Smith, Jason M. Lewis, and Robert D. Frye, with assistance from Michael S. Kohn and Gary S. Krammes
Historical peak-streamflow and peak-stage (flood) information is vital for the design of stream-related infrastructure such as bridges and dams. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) annually publishes these data from gaged sites, and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) conducts peak-stage surveys at selected sites during periods of flooding. This historical flood information often is underutilized because of a lack of knowledge of the existence, location, and usefulness of archived records. In cooperation with the ODOT, the USGS developed (1) a digital database of historical flood information, and (2) a web-based mapping application interface to facilitate access to this valuable information.
Data records in the Flood Database for Oklahoma were organized using a two-table, one-to-many, site-has-events database schema. Sites were georeferenced to an accuracy of at least 1,000 feet and attributed using standardized datasets including the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD), the National Bridge Inventory (NBI), and U.S. Census Bureau political boundaries. Event records include hyperlinked references to original data sources, which were digitized as necessary. At last update (2013), the Flood Database for Oklahoma contained flood information from 1891 to 2013 for 22,377 events at 3,676 sites; following statewide and historic flooding in May–July 2015, the next update (2015) is expected to add many records to the database.
The Flood Database for Oklahoma was based on the design and methods of the Flood Database for Colorado. The web-mapping application includes simple tools for spatial and attribute queries and a tool for exporting selected data in a non-proprietary format. Selected photos and newspaper clippings also are available for download from the web-mapping application. The Flood Database for Oklahoma will support structural design near waterways and improve understanding of floods by providing engineers and scientists with simplified digital access to previously obscure or unavailable historical flood information.