GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 69-6
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM


KOSTELNIK, Jaime, WALD, Lisa A., RENGERS, Francis, STALEY, Dennis and SCHMITT, Robert G., U.S. Geological Survey, Geologic Hazards Science Center, Golden, CO 80401

Observations of post-fire debris flows in recently burned areas are collected across the United States by a variety of local and federal government agencies, citizen scientists, and academic researchers. We propose that aggregating these observations into a central repository and communicating when and where debris flows occur, the rainfall rates during triggering storms, and the impact of flows are important steps toward mitigating future risk to human life and infrastructure. Additionally, observations are necessary to validate the current U.S. Geological Survey post-fire debris-flow hazard assessment models, build and calibrate improved models, and understand how debris-flow occurrence is affected by regional, lithological, and climatic differences. Here, we test the Esri Story Map platform to communicate debris-flow events because they can be created quickly, they make the geospatial data widely accessible, and they are easily updated should subsequent events occur. We build event-summary Story Maps using a series of templates and simple code to semi-automate tasks to create content including tables, images, maps, text, and videos to publicly share site-specific information about debris-flow events in these burn areas. Specifically, we leverage the event-summary Story Maps to: 1) provide public information about post-fire debris-flow impacts following several important events, 2) correlate event locations with estimated debris-flow hazard and modeled rainfall thresholds in areas assessed by the U.S. Geological Survey to validate the model and for calibrating and testing future models and, 3) encourage the reporting of future debris-flow occurrence, extent, and associated rainfall rates. This presentation focuses on explaining our workflow and the lessons that we learned for using Story Maps as an effective tool for science communication. We discuss the utility of Story Maps in an area where multiple debris flows occurred within a single burn area (Bond Fire) and in a region where an intense storm triggered debris flows across multiple burn areas (CZU Lightning Complex, River, Carmel, and Dolan Fires; California). We conclude that Esri Story Maps are a useful tool for informing the public and decision-making stakeholders such as emergency managers and the U.S. National Weather Service.