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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Project Flyer - TranStorm: A Tool to Help Communities Prepare for Extreme Rainfall


Northeast Center

David Liebl

Kenneth Potter

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Climate scientists project heavier and more frequent extreme rainstorms for the Great Lakes region in the future. While these rare events carry the risk of damage and injury, most municipalities use actual experience from past large storms to design or modify their infrastructure. Along with NE CSC Fellows Nicholas Hayden, Zachary Schuster, and Pearl May, and with initial funding from NOAA's Sectoral Applications Research Program, Potter and Liebl found a way to use the rainfall record from a "real" extreme storm, one that contaminated 2,500 wells and caused over $34M in damage in Wisconsin, to assess risk in a community that had never experienced it. The research team digitally "transposed" the 2008 storm over other watersheds, so that runoff, stream lows, and lake levels could be modeled as if the rain had fallen over those locations, to discover both unforeseen vulnerabilities and mitigation opportunities.