Control Structure general

LWDD’s Automated Flood Control

Water control structures act like dams, allowing stormwater to be released or held back depending on weather conditions. The technology used to operate the Lake Worth Drainage District’s (LWDD) water control structures is called Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). As the water rises in the canal and reaches a pre-determined elevation, SCADA will slowly open control structures releasing water for flood control. Similarly, as water elevations return to normal levels the control structure gates will close, holding back water for conservation and water supply demands.

This response to changes in the canal system happens automatically and is monitored remotely by staff using mobile devices. However, in anticipation of severe weather, staff can override the automated SCADA system and make manual adjustments as needed. The remote monitoring and operating functions of SCADA eliminate the need for LWDD staff to venture out during dangerous weather conditions to operate control structures, as well as significantly reduce response time.

Automation for more enhanced flood control is just one of the many ways LWDD provides for your safety.

Hurricane Graphic

New Hurricane Tool

Cone of concern. Cone of dread. Cone of death. The National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) familiar forecast cone map goes by a lot of unofficial nicknames, all of which reflect this undeniable fact: you feel worried if you’re in it and better if you’re not.

That misreading of the forecast cone has made it the subject of some criticism over the years. Emergency managers believe it fails to reflect the risks posed to coastal communities that may be out of the cone one day but in it the next. Also, those in-land may be close enough to the eye of a storm to still experience serious wind damage.

This year, the NHC is rolling out an experimental version intended to address those issues by adding new layers of threats and a lot more colors. The NHC believes the new map better bridges the gap between informing the public and confusing it.

The forecast cone, introduced 22 years ago, has been misinterpreted by the public practically since day one. It’s meant to show the NHC best guess for where the eye of the storm will travel, with a cone around it that follows a formula based on the average errors the hurricane center makes when tracking a storm.

It’s a handy tool for showing where a storm may go. But even a small track shift can translate to a big change for a hurricane that parallels Florida’s long coastline. For example, the relatively minor shifts in the NHC predictions for Hurricane Ian’s path in 2022 led to entire counties in Florida exiting the forecast cone’s shaded area and, in some cases, delaying or avoiding calls for evacuation in response.

Starting August 15, the NHC will publish an experimental second version of the cone, where the inland spots under watches and warnings will also be colored in red and blue. It also will show the wind field of the storm, depicted in a gold tone, showing how far out the damaging winds stretch. This addition should make residents outside the cone more aware of the potential impacts from high winds. For more details on the new forecast cone visit NHC at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/NHC_Cone_Graphic_Change_Announcement.pdf.

Excerpt from: Carter Weinhofer (May 15, 2024), New Hurricane Graphics Better Explain The Dangers of Approaching Storms,  Retrieved June 6, 2024 from https://www.yourobserver.com/news/2024/may/15/hurricane-graphics-dangers-storms

Hurricane Season sign

Only A Month Away

Florida’s hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends November 30. A typical season will average 12 tropical storms with sustained winds of at least 39 miles per hour, of which six may turn into hurricanes with winds of 74 miles per hour or more. In addition to high winds, hurricanes and tropical storms can bring torrential rainfall. These severe weather events can produce localized flooding that can be exacerbated by improperly maintained drainage systems.

Residential communities and businesses can help mitigate the impacts from severe storms with a few simple steps. One crucial step is the pre-storm inspection and maintenance of drainage infrastructure. Drainage infrastructure can include inlets, discharge control structures, connecting pipes and ponds. Proper maintenance of these facilities will ensure unobstructed flow of stormwater away from homes and fully operational equipment.

Secondly, residential communities and businesses with operable discharge control structures can request authorization from the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) to open these structures prior to the storm. Lowering pond levels before the hurricane arrives can provide additional storage for excess stormwater. LWDD recommends the establishment of a drainage committee whose role is to provide for the maintenance and operation of the community or business’ drainage system. Drainage committees may consist of one or more individuals like board members, residents and/or property managers. All members of the Drainage committee should register with LWDD on its website at www.lwdd.net/storm-response. This registration process ensures the LWDD knows who to contact and where to send important weather alerts and instructions.

During the storm event, follow emergency management instructions via local news and take appropriate actions to keep yourself, family and property safe. For safety reasons most emergency personnel will not be deployed during a weather event. Only when winds have subsided will response operations begin.

Depending on the volume and duration of rainfall, expect streets, sidewalks, driveways and lawns to flood. These areas are designed to function as secondary detention areas and help to keep water away from homes and businesses. This flooding is temporary and will begin to recede after an event has passed. During the storm event LWDD personnel will be monitoring canal elevations and making operational adjustments to major flood control structures. This work can be conducted during the storm via wireless mobile devices and provides instantaneous response to changes in water elevations.

It may be tempting to explore outside but stay indoors after the storm. For your safety and to keep roadways clear for emergency response vehicles, stay inside until told otherwise by authorities. Do not attempt to walk in flooded areas. Flood water may be unsanitary and there may be downed power lines or other hazards that are not visible. Do not drive on flooded roadways as vehicles can become unstable and float in as little as a few inches of water. Additionally, canal banks may fail, and roadways may be affected by sinkholes. The location of roads and sidewalks may not be discernible from canals and life-threatening accidents can occur.

No system, no matter how well designed, is 100% flood proof. The likelihood of flooding depends on several variables such as rainfall volume, ground saturation and local terrain. But collaborating closely with communities, businesses and other water management agencies, LWDD can help keep you and your property safe from flooding.

Rain flows down from a roof down

Helpful Information to Pass Along to Your Communities

According to the most recent US census data, Palm Beach County’s estimated 2024 population is 1,548,985 making it the fourth most populous county in Florida. LWDD’s videos and fact sheets library help educate homeowners, especially those new to our unique stormwater drainage system, on the community’s role in flood protection. Check out these resources for more information.
man in a hammock

Complacency Can Be Deadly

The aftermath of a big storm in Florida seems like it should be hard to forget; blue roofs, piles of yard debris waiting to be picked up, lack of light, air conditioning or clean water. But those memories fade as things calm down and we get back to normal. For many Floridians, this calm after the storm can last for several years.

The last major hurricane to hit our area was Wilma in October 2005. Over time, people tend to forget unpleasant experiences. Some residents are new to the area and may never have experienced a severe storm or hurricane before. For these reasons many residents can be lulled into complacency and may procrastinate from their emergency planning.

But you never know when the calm before the storm will end. South Florida is known for not only tropical storms and hurricanes but also torrential downpours from unexpected thunderstorms that can happen any time of the year. For example, in January 2014, over 15 inches of rain fell in a localized area in just a couple of hours causing major flooding, damage to property and tragically the loss of life.

It is vital that residents should make reasonable preparations for self-sufficiency all year long. That includes re-checking and refilling essential supplies, such as an emergency food stockpile, storage containers for water, flashlights and other emergency items. Residents also should have an evacuation plan in place, with contingencies for pets and mobility-challenged family members. And, they should make sure that insurance policies are up to date and that relevant documents are complete and easy to find.

With luck, our area will make it to the end of the 2023 hurricane season unscathed. However, it is only a matter of time when luck will run out and the value of year-round preparation will become staggeringly obvious. A good resource for information about planning for various types of emergencies can be found at www.ready.gov.