Monday, August 31, 2015

Flood Damage Facts and Restoration in San Francisco

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The amount, location, and timing of water reaching a drainage channel from natural precipitation and controlled or uncontrolled reservoir releases determines the flow at downstream locations. Some precipitation evaporates, some slowly percolates through soil, some may be temporarily sequestered as snow or ice, and some may produce rapid runoff from surfaces including rock, pavement, roofs, and saturated or frozen ground. The fraction of incident precipitation promptly reaching a drainage channel has been observed from nil for light rain on dry, level ground to as high as 170 percent for warm rain on accumulated snow.[9]
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Most precipitation records are based on a measured depth of water received within a fixed time interval. Frequency of a precipitation threshold of interest may be determined from the number of measurements exceeding that threshold value within the total time period for which observations are available. Individual data points are converted to intensity by dividing each measured depth by the period of time between observations. This intensity will be less than the actual peak intensity if theduration of the rainfall event was less than the fixed time interval for which measurements are reported. Convective precipitation events (thunderstorms) tend to produce shorter duration storm events than orographic precipitation. Duration, intensity, and frequency of rainfall events are important to flood prediction. Short duration precipitation is more significant to flooding within small drainage basins.[10]
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The most important upslope factor in determining flood magnitude is the land area of the watershed upstream of the area of interest. Rainfall intensity is the second most important factor for watersheds of less than approximately 30 square miles or 80 square kilometres. The main channel slope is the second most important factor for larger watersheds. Channel slope and rainfall intensity become the third most important factors for small and large watersheds, respectively.[11]
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Time of Concentration is the time required for runoff from the most distant point of the upstream drainage area to reach the point of the drainage channel controlling flooding of the area of interest. The time of concentration defines the critical duration of peak rainfall for the area of interest.[12] The critical duration of intense rainfall might be only a few minutes for roof and parking lot drainage structures, while cumulative rainfall over several days would be critical for river basins.
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Downslope factors

Water flowing downhill ultimately encounters downstream conditions slowing movement. The final limitation is often the ocean or a natural or artificial lake. Elevation changes such as tidal fluctuations are significant determinants of coastal and estuarine flooding. Less predictable events liketsunamis and storm surges may also cause elevation changes in large bodies of water. Elevation of flowing water is controlled by the geometry of the flow channel.[11] Flow channel restrictions like bridges and canyons tend to control water elevation above the restriction. The actual control point for any given reach of the drainage may change with changing water elevation, so a closer point may control for lower water levels until a more distant point controls at higher water levels.

Effective flood channel geometry may be changed by growth of vegetation, accumulation of ice or debris, or construction of bridges, buildings, or levees within the flood channel.

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Extreme flood events often result from coincidence such as unusually intense, warm rainfall melting heavy snow pack, producing channel obstructions from floating ice, and releasing small impoundments like beaverdams.[13] Coincident events may cause extensive flooding to be more frequent than anticipated from simplistic statistical prediction models considering only precipitation runoff flowing within unobstructed drainage channels.[14] Debris modification of channel geometry is common when heavy flows move uprooted woody vegetation and flood-damaged structures and vehicles, including boats and railwayequipment. Recent field measurements during the 2010–2011 Queensland floods showed that any criterion solely based upon the flow velocity, water depth or specific momentum cannot account for the hazards caused by velocity and water depth fluctuations.[7] These considerations ignore further the risks associated with large debris entrained by the flow motion.[8]
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Some researchers have mentioned the storage effect in urban areas with transportation corridors created by cut and fill. Culverted fills may be converted to impoundments if the culverts become blocked by debris, and flow may be diverted along streets. Several studies have looked into the flow patterns and redistribution in streets during storm events and the implication on flood modelling.[15]

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