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UAV Case Study

Thompson River

Flood Watch

Is it feasible to use unmanned aerial vehicles and new technologies to aid in early flood prediction?

Hypothesis

“Is it feasible to use unmanned aerial vehicles to capture media, processing the media on a computer, to aid in early flood prediction?”

About the Case Study

The case study structure is based on the Scientific Method, where we come up with a question that we want to answer, complete initial research, then perform the experiment and observe the results based on data collected, and then draw a conclusion. In this case study, we are setting out to prove the hypothesis (as apposed to disprove).

The idea for this case study came about from learning about a relatively new technology that uses sequences of video captured of a river or stream, and then processed using specialized software to determine the velocity of the water. The theory is that using UAV’s to monitor the change over time of river and stream velocity may assist in early flood prediction.

The other contributing factor to starting this endeavour was general interest in meteorology and flooding. What do people talk about? The weather! There have been many stories told over the years of the big Kamloops flood back in 1972 that had a major affect on North Thompson home owners, sending flood waters into the Oak Dale Trailer Park. The flood caused the City of Kamloops to evacuate residents and reinforce the dyke structure along the North Thompson River near Oak Hills in Westsyde. Every year, residents talk about the spring runoff and wonder if there will be a flood that will affect local homes.

Other important interests include the effect that floods have on the environment. For example, heavy flooding can change the course of rivers and streams. Boulders, rocks, gravel and sediment get displaced every year. This can have a negative impact on salmon (and other fish species) spawning grounds, for example. We hope to visualize and learn about these and other environmental impacts during the case study.

Tranquille River, west of Kamloops, March 2018

Update Method

As we complete additional UAV flight missions, the individual blog post pages listed below will be updated with new aerial photographs and video and status updates containing information on river and stream changes and any safety concerns that may arise.  UAV aerial videos will be published starting the second week of May.  Check back for updates.

Update on the update process: There is a great deal of media to review and process with each UAV flight mission.  The aerial photos and information update will be published first for all the blog posts, and then the UAV aerial video will be produced and published after.

If you prefer to just watch the videos, you can check out our YouTube channel playlist 2018 Thompson Flood Watch

Base Data

The following base data, provided by the Government of British Columbia, will be incorporated into the case study to make qualified comparisons to measurements provided by the Snow Conditions & Water Supply Bulletin, and data collected during the case study missions.

2018 Thompson Snowpack

The following data was obtained from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletins, 2018.

 % of Normal Snowpack 2018
BasinJanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMay 1May 15June
North Thompson83921051091089461
South Thompson901041111091269381

Source: “Snow Conditions & Water Supply Bulletin.” Province of British Columbia, 15 Mar. 2018, www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/drought-flooding-dikes-dams/river-forecast-centre/snow-survey-water-supply-bulletin

UAV Flight Mission Statistics

DateDistanceFlight TimeFlights
May 20, 201852,104metres658minutes68
52.1kilometers10.99hours

Flight statistics recorded for all UAV flight missions completed for the Thompson Flood Watch Case Study. Stats effective up to date posted in table above.

UAV Flight Mission Locations and Status Reports

Tranquille River

Location

Nearest Town or City: Kamloops

Travel from access road to the Kamloops Airport (CYKA), west, past the Kamloops Golf and Country Club for 7.6 km.  Keep right at the turn-off to Padova City.  Flight mission location is on the right, just before the bridge.  About a 15 minute drive from Kamloops.

Current Status

See the Tranquille River Flood Monitoring Status blog posting for current status, aerial photos and information

Tranquille River UAV Flight Mission History
  • First Flight: Sunday, March 18, 2018
  • 7 UAV Flight Missions up to May 19, 2018
Tranquille River Flood Watch
Tranquille River

Blog Post and Status Updates

Jamieson Creek

Location

Nearest Town or City: Kamloops

To get to Jamieson Creek, travel north from the Dunes Golf Course at Kamloops on Westsyde Road for 12.9 km to the Jamieson Creek Main Haul Road. Turn left and travel for 4 km up to the 3rd bridge.

Current Status

See the Jamieson Creek Flood Monitoring Status blog posting for current status, aerial photos and information

Jamieson Creek UAV Flight Mission History
  • First Flight: Sunday, March 18, 2018
  • 9 UAV Flight Missions up to May 20, 2018
Jamieson Creek Flood Watch
Jamieson Creek

Blog Post and Status Updates

North Thompson River McLure Ferry Crossing

Location

Nearest Town or City: McLure, British Columbia

From Yellowhead Highway #5 travel north from the Halston Avenue/Highway 5 intersection for 38.6 km and turn left on the McLure Ferry Road.  Travel for 2 km, staying on the main road to arrive at your destination.

Current Status

See the North Thompson River McLure Flood Monitoring Status blog posting for current status, aerial photos and information

North Thompson River McLure UAV Flight Mission History
  • First Flight: Sunday, March 18, 2018
  • 8 UAV Flight Missions up to May 19, 2018
North Thompson River McLure Flood Watch
North Thompson River McLure

Blog Post and Status Updates

Fishtrap Creek

Location

Nearest Town or City: Barriere, British Columbia

From Barriere, travel north on Yellowhead Highway #5. Cross the North Thompson River bridge just north of town and take your first left immediately after the bridge onto Westsyde Road. Travel on Westsyde Road for 12.4 km to reach the Fishtrap Creek bridge, right next to the Fishtrap Creek Horse Camp corrals.

Current Status

See the Fishtrap Creek Flood Monitoring Status blog posting for current status, aerial photos and information

Fishtrap Creek UAV Flight Mission History
  • First Flight: Saturday, March 17, 2018
  • 8 UAV Flight Missions up to May 12, 2018
Fishtrap Creek Flood Watch
Fishtrap Creek

Blog Post and Status Updates

North Thompson River Barriere

Location

Nearest Town or City: Barriere, British Columbia

From Barriere, travel north on Yellowhead Highway #5. Cross the North Thompson River bridge just north of town and take your first left immediately after the bridge onto Westsyde Road. Travel from the Highway #5/Westsyde Road intersection for 1.3 km, keeping left (go straight) at the first switchback corner (stay along the river).

Current Status

See the North Thompson River Barriere Flood Monitoring Status blog posting for current status, aerial photos and information

North Thompson River Barriere UAV Flight Mission History
  • First Flight: Saturday, March 17, 2018
  • 9 UAV Flight Missions up to May 19, 2018
North Thompson River Barriere Flood Watch
North Thompson River Barriere

Blog Post and Status Updates

Barriere River

Location

Nearest Town or City: Barriere, British Columbia

Travel from the intersection of Yellowhead Highway #5 and Barriere Town Road into the town of Barriere for 2 km. Turn left just past the Barriere River bridge onto Fouquet Road. Park at the end of the street, just before the school bus terminal. Walk past the big fir tree and you will be at the Barriere River.

Current Status

See the Barriere River Flood Monitoring Status blog posting for current status, aerial photos and information

Barriere River UAV Flight Mission History
  • First Flight: Saturday, March 17, 2018
  • 6 UAV Flight Missions up to May 12, 2018
Barriere River Flood Watch
Barriere River

Blog Post and Status Updates

North Thompson River Little Fort Ferry Crossing

Location

Nearest Town or City: Little Fort, British Columbia

From Kamloops, travel north from the Halston Avenue/Yellowhead Highway #5 intersection for 88.1 km and turn right on Ferry Road. The flight mission location is located near the ferry dispatch office, about 150 metres off of the highway.

Current Status

See the North Thompson River Little Fort Flood Monitoring Status blog posting for current status, aerial photos and information

North Thompson River Little Fort UAV Flight Mission History
  • First Flight: Saturday, March 17, 2018
  • 5 UAV Flight Missions up to May 12, 2018
North Thompson River Little Fort Flood Watch
North Thompson River Little Fort

Blog Post and Status Updates

Lemieux Creek

Location

Nearest Town or City: Little Fort, British Columbia

Travel from Little Fort, from the Yellowhead Highway #5 and Interlakes Highway #24 intersection for 3.4 km to the Lemieux Creek road and turn left. Follow the Lemieux Creek road for 350 metres to the flight mission location.

Current Status

See the Lemieux Creek Flood Monitoring Status blog posting for current status, aerial photos and information

Lemieux Creek UAV Flight Mission History
  • First Flight: Saturday, March 17, 2018
  • 5 UAV Flight Missions up to May 12, 2018
Lemieux Creek Flood Watch
Lemieux Creek

Blog Post and Status Updates

Pre-mission Research

Some testing on video sequence processing has been completed in advance, which was a complex process. We managed to produce actionable results after two days of software testing. We had some media on file of the Barriere River, where it interfaces with the North Thompson River, although the sequence was very short at 5 seconds and another sequence of a stream near Prichard running at about 15 seconds long. We believe that with testing, we can obtain good software results.

2018 Overall Weather

La Niña conditions are present this year in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which means the sea surface temperatures will be between 3 to 5 degrees Celsius lower than normal.  This has an affect on global climate, which may disrupt regular meteorological cycles, leading to stronger than average storms and drought.  Average temperatures and meteorological conditions for this year will be compared to previous years to see if La Niña has any effect on the rate that our snowpack melts here in British Columbia.

UAV Flight Mission Schedule

The schedule is determined based on time from low water level, to high water level (crest), and back to low water level
Mission resolution, or number of missions per month, will depend on the rate of melting and subsequent runoff. This means that, for example, there may be one mission scheduled per week, but when high water is getting close, additional missions may be added to the schedule to collect additional data and media.

UAV Flight Mission Considerations

  • Follow the SFOC rules, issued to Firefox by Transport Canada; Flight Operations
  • Airspace classification: All flight missions are planned in Class G, uncontrolled airspace
  • Land ownership: All flight mission locations have been planned on Crown land without having to cross private property for access
  • Review current selected locations after initial UAV flight missions. Determine if more, or less flight mission locations are beneficial to the case study

Media and Data Collection Scope

The following high-level list outlines the type of data that will be collected during the case study, and how it will be implemented once complete.

  • UAV Aerial georeferenced photos
  • UAV Aerial georeferenced maps
  • UAV Aerial video
  • Weather measurements (portable station)
  • Post Processing
  • Compiling Data
  • Reporting

Mission Scope of Work

The basic UAV flight mission consists of capturing aerial photos and video with an unmanned aerial vehicle, reviewing and processing the media to determine water surface velocities.  The full scope of work has been intentionally omitted as the process is proprietary.

Methodology

The methods and parameters used to complete the tasks listed above will not be posted on an individual mission basis. Once the Case Study is completed, a summary of results will be published, which will specify ranges instead the of exact parameters used to collect the data and media.

Initial UAV Scouting Mission

The initial UAV Scouting Mission to research locations was completed in March 2018. Research included reading online posts on flooding in the Kamloops area, and sourcing accurate data from government sources to be used within the case study, then planning flight mission locations based on river and creek (tributary) size.

Thompson Flood Watch General Updates

Update: March 20, 2018: The first round of flight missions were conducted on March 17 and March 18, 2018.  Site surveys (part of our SFOC requirement) were completed at each selected location.  A total of 9 locations were selected out of a list of 21 potential sites.  The 12 sites that were omitted did not meet our criteria for creek or river size and potential flow.  Media captured with our unmanned aerial vehicles was reviewed and initial processing was completed. Further tests are required prior to posting any data results. The 9 locations are scheduled for continual monitoring on a weekly or bi-monthly schedule (weather permitting).

Update: May 8, 2018: We have completed between four and seven flight missions at each location posted on this page.  There have been dramatic increases in water levels at all locations.  The most notable changes have occurred at Jamieson Creek.  There is substantial erosion of the river banks, vegetation has been displaced and the road at kilometre 3.5 is washing out over time.  Turbidity at all river or creek locations has increased substantially, most notable Tranquille River.  A great deal of solids are being transported by the river, which should make the people gold panning there happy.

Update May 20, 2018: Over the past week, all of the tributaries on our UAV flight mission list have reduced flow rate and volumes.  Turbidity and river bank erosion has dropped. The North Thompson River, however, has increased in depth to the breaking point in low lying areas.  Many farm fields in the North Thompson Valley are flooded.  The picture below shows the extent of the flooding at the last farm field on Tranquille Road before Kamloops Lake.

(Click on picture for full size image)

  • The estimated total width of the Thompson river, as per the images above, before flooding is 1,180 metres, or 1.1 kilometres.
  • After flooding, the estimated width is 2,521 metres, or 2.5 kilometres.