Flooding & Floodplains

LiDAR: A Vital Use of Laser Technology

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. As part of the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project, highly detailed ground elevation data for all of Harris County was acquired through this cutting-edge technology that utilizes the projection of millions of laser signals to the ground from a specially equipped aircraft. Using powerful software, the data from these LiDAR reflections is collected by measuring the time it takes for the aircraft to receive each of the millions of laser reflections. The resulting data is then combined and converted into an image that looks exactly like the terrain below, including buildings, trees, roadways, creeks and bayous.


So, what do we do with this data?

In order to identify areas of higher flood risk, engineers need a detailed and accurate representation of the shape of the ground. It is just not economical to obtain such detailed information for an area as large as Harris County using conventional survey methods. But LiDAR makes it possible.

The LiDAR data is combined with surveyed creek and bayou cross sections in order to develop detailed computer simulations to determine an estimate of areas that have a higher risk of flooding.


LIDAR helps to provide a better understanding of flooding and is a benefit to every citizen in Harris County.