Muskingum and Ohio River Flood Maps Can Help Prepare for Floods

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New flood inundation maps and an updated flood warning system can help Marietta, Ohio, and other communities along the Lower Muskingum River and Ohio River prepare and plan for floods.

New flood inundation maps and an updated flood warning system can help Marietta, Ohio, and other communities along the Lower Muskingum River and Ohio River prepare and plan for floods. 

The U.S. Geological Survey and National Weather Service recently created digital flood inundation maps for lower parts of the Muskingum River from Marietta to McConnelsville, and a reach of the Ohio River in southeast Ohio. These state-of-the-art maps show water inundation areas and water-depth information in high resolution, and will allow emergency officials, planners, homeowners and businesses to see which roadways and properties will be impacted by predicted flood levels. 

As part of this study, the USGS also installed two new streamgages on the Ohio River above Sardis and Muskingum River at Beverly; collected river depth and bridge geometric data; and developed flood inundation boundaries depicting the areal extent of flooding expected to occur for selected stages at some USGS streamgages. 

Marietta has long been affected by flooding from the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers. Since 1913, seven Ohio River floods have met or exceeded flood levels of 40 feet and have severely impacted Marietta. The most recent of these floods were in September 2004 and January 2005. 

“The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is very pleased to work with the City of Marietta and USGS in making this flood warning system a reality,” said Boris Slogar, Chief Engineer for the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. “When coupled with the nearly $750 million in work underway by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Muskingum Flood Control System dams upstream of Marietta, MWCD is committed to protecting people and property throughout the Muskingum Watershed.” 

This warning system also utilizes flow data from a new acoustic Doppler radar river gage on the Ohio River at Sardis, Ohio, that is the first of its kind on the Ohio River. 

“I am optimistic that this project will be a major step forward for southeastern Ohio towards flood mitigation,” said Joe Tucker, the City Engineer for Marietta. “This system will improve communications of imminent flood conditions and reduce damages due to flooding from both the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers. I am very proud to have worked with all of these agencies to play a minor role in introducing the most advanced early flood warning system in Ohio.”   

The flood warning system was a collaboration among the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District; City of Marietta, Ohio; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District, West Virginia; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District; U.S. Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Silver Jackets Program, Ohio; USGS West Virginia Water Science Center; USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center; and the National Weather Service

The maps are available at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/inundation.php and http://wim.usgs.gov/FIMI/. Using the map interface, users can zoom into Marietta, Ohio, and select their location of interest. 

More information on flood inundation mapping for the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers can be found in a recent USGS report

Reporters: A press conference and presentation for the Lower Muskingum River and City of Marietta Flood Warning System will be held on Wednesday, May 27, from 1-2 p.m. at McDonough Auditorium on the Marietta College Campus at 215 Fifth Street in Marietta, Ohio (map).