This year's experience with the floods in Southern Alberta has confirmed a thought I once had, we need a Flood Warning Index or Code. It needs to be simple - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or Green, Yellow, Orange, Red, Violet or Not Bad, Bad, Really Bad, Really Really Bad or Kiss Your Ass Goodbye.
If it makes sense to have the Richter Scale for Earthquakes, a Category System for Hurricanes, The F Class for Tornadoes; then it certainly makes sense to have some system for floods.
The methodology to determine what flow of water on which river or stream goes with which colour is beyond the scope of my idea. If accepted, the correct folks with the engineering or scientific backgrounds will assign the proper values. What is important is that everyday folks will understand a Yellow Flood situation will be bad in certain parts of town and a Violet Flood will probably erase the town.
For High River, AB, the 2008 flood may rate a orange level, where as the 1995 & 2005 may rate a red level. The 2013 flood is starting to look like a violet level event.
Being told that you are going to flood, without some value attached to the warning is almost useless. Being in a geographic area that has a huge water basin to collect rain water and snow pack in, it is conceivable that when conditions are right, all low-laying areas downstream will get wet at one point each year. Having an method to describe how wet and how fast you are going to get wet will help folks make an informed decision on whether to stay and sandbag or pack-up and head for higher ground.
I hope the folks at ESRD - Environment Sustainable Resource Development, will champion this idea to the province and maybe we can have this ready by next flood season.
Remember, have a plan, have good information and take action!
Til next time,