Vulnerability of California Roadways to Post-Wildfire Debris Flow

Research Team: Mikhail V. Chester, Ph.D.; and Rui Li

University: UCLA

Problem Statement: Post-wildfire debris flows represent a major challenge for roadways in California and the West. While wildfires themselves disrupt traffic and create evacuation challenges, precipitation events that occur after wildfires have the capacity to overwhelm roadways and their stormwater infrastructure, in extreme circumstances causing total failure of the asset.

Project Description: A post-wildfire debris flow roadway vulnerability assessment was developed for the entire state of California for both current and future conditions. The vulnerability assessment considers soil conditions, vegetative conditions, geologic conditions, precipitation (current and future), and fire risk (current and future), in addition to roadway criticality. The results from this study provide guidance for roadway mangers to identify the potential high post-fire debris flow watersheds, roadways under extremely high post-fire debris flow threat, and the changing profile of vulnerable roadways under both current long recurrence design storm events and future climate scenarios.

Status: Completed

Budget: $83,000

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