LAFAYETTE, La. — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is working towards learning more about the Vermilion River.
The purpose of this research is to forecast how the body of water will behave ahead of bad weather – like Hurricane Nicholas.
Dr. Emab Habib says this research will translate into confidence in times of uncertainty. He says several factors make the Vermilion River a “complicated” one.
“It does not always flow from north to south,” he said. “Sometimes depending on the storm action, depending on the gulf, depending on the swamp conditions, it can flow north. Many times, it actually flows north.”
He says Acadiana can expect to see two types of flooding as a result of Hurricane Nicholas.
“Minor to moderate flooding in the river, definitely lower than historical floods that we have seen in the area,” he said. “But probably a lot of flooding, localized flooding in some of the communities.”
The research combines rainfall forecasts with tools and models that simulate the river.
Habib says this study is crucial for the southern part of the state – especially during hurricane season.
“It should actually support emergency management, it should support individual responses on an individual basis, and also it should inform decision-makers who make decisions on the fly on how to operate sectors or gates or what have you that controls the water of the river,” he said.
People’s safety is at the center of the study.
“We wanted to translate that information into something meaningful for the community, and that is basically how high the water will get in the channels,” he said. “That's what basically impacts people.”
Habib says within the next few years close to 200 gauges will be placed in the watershed and about another 100 locations. These tools will be used to analyze the river and he says the information will change the way we live by the river and how we can manage it. Right now, only a handful of gauges are installed.
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