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Flooding in urban areas (urban flooding)

This animation shows the process of urban flooding.

Flooding in urban areas can be caused by flash floods, or coastal floods, or river floods, but there is also a specific flood type that is called urban flooding.

Urban flooding is specific in the fact that the cause is a lack of drainage in an urban area. As there is little open soil that can be used for water storage nearly all the precipitation needs to be transport to surface water or the sewage system. High intensity rainfall can cause flooding when the city sewage system and draining canals do not have the necessary capacity to drain away the amounts of rain that are falling. Water may even enter the sewage system in one place and then get deposited somewhere else in the city on the streets. Sometimes you see dancing drain covers.

Throughout Europe urban flooding happens fairly frequently. The virtual tour shows two examples, Hull in England in 2007 and Mestre in Italy in 2007. The same sort of thing can happen in rural areas and is then called ponding.

Urban floods are a great disturbance of daily life in the city. Roads can be blocked, people can’t go to work or to schools. The economic damages are high but the number of casualties is usually very limited, because of the nature of the flood. The water slowly rises on the city streets. When the city is on flat terrain the flow speed is low and you can still see people driving through it. The water rises relatively slow and the water level usually does not reach life endangering heights.

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