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Texas State inaugurates International Flash Flood Laboratory

By Ann Friou
University News Service
October 13, 2009

Texas State University-San Marcos will inaugurate its new International Flash Flood Laboratory (IFFL) with a workshop Monday, Oct. 19, in which it will invite the public to recommend activities the lab should undertake to reduce flash-flood casualties and associated damage.

The San Antonio-Austin-Dallas/Fort Worth corridor, where more than half of the United States’ annual flood deaths occurred in 2007, has become known nationwide as “Flash Flood Alley.” Most flash-flood deaths occur when people attempt to drive across flooded roads.

“Numerous agencies along the corridor are involved in flash flood mitigation and are sending representatives to the workshop,” said IFFL Co-Director Pam Showalter. Registrants currently include representatives of the National Weather Service, the Lower Colorado River Authority, Texas Department of Transportation, U.S. Homeland Security, area police and fire departments, and other agencies.

“We highly encourage members of the public to attend, as well. The workshop is for any individual with an interest in discussing the best ways to reduce fatalities during flash floods,” Showalter said.

A lecture by Eve Gruntfest, IFFL co-director and an internationally recognized authority on the challenge of implementing effective flash-flood warning systems, will open the program at 8:30 a.m. Following the lecture, audience members will have an opportunity to address questions and comments to Gruntfest and other workshop attendees, and to participate in detailed discussions to determine specific goals the IFFL should pursue. Gruntfest will present a synopsis of the discussions at the end of the workshop.

Gruntfest’s lecture is hosted by the James and Marilyn Lovell Center for Environmental Geography and Hazards Research Distinguished Lecture Series. The Lovell Center, in the Department of Geography, houses the IFFL.

The lecture and workshop will be held in the Reed Brantley Parr Room on the 11th floor of the J.C. Kellam Administration Building on the Texas State campus. Gruntfest’s lecture (8:30-10:15 a.m.) is free and open to the public. Audience members who wish to take part in the day-long workshop (10:15 a.m.-5 p.m.) can register for $40 (lunch will be provided), at the door or by going to http://www.geo.txstate.edu/lovell/IFFL/Workshop.html.

Workshop sponsors include Sutron Corp., High Sierra Electronics, Inc., Halff Associates, Inc., and the Texas Spatial Science Center in Texas A&M University’s Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science. Texas State sponsors include the Texas Center for Geographic Information Science, the River Systems Institute, and Gamma Theta Upsilon.