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Japan research group's free flood water website predicts Tokyo's wettest spots

The flood water predictive system displays projected rainfall in the Shinjuku area, Tokyo, in August 2018, by applying colors reflecting the amount of water to its roads, in this capture provided by Waseda University.

TOKYO -- A research group including the University of Tokyo and Waseda University has revealed a system to predict road flooding in Tokyo's 23 wards up to 20 minutes in advance should torrential rain strike the capital.

Flooding of both surface and underground roadways has caused increasing damage in recent heavy rain disasters. Looking to provide a useful tool for evacuations and other disaster prevention measures for weather calamities, the research group will make the system available for free on the web as early as next month.

The program is designed to predict the flow of water in Tokyo by taking into consideration rivers, sewage pipes and the concentration of buildings in a given area. Using data such as rainfall volume and time estimates from the Japan Meteorological Agency and other organizations, the system is able to analyze potential damage and disruption from heavy rain and typhoons.

"Looking to the future, we're hoping to receive cooperation from local authorities to make the system usable nationwide," said Masato Sekine, a professor of river engineering and hydraulics at Waseda University, and a member of the research group.

The system will be accessible from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-affiliated Data Integration and Analysis System Program (DIAS) homepage. Users will access a Tokyo map displaying roads highlighted in different colors indicating the volume of water expected on the ground. Roads colored blue are at depths of 1 to 10 centimeters. Amounts of 10 to 20 centimeters are green, 20 to 40 centimeters comes up yellow, 40 to 80 centimeters shows orange, and anything over 80 centimeters goes red. The system can show the area's current state, as well as how it will change in the next 20 minutes over 5-minute increments.

Recent years have seen an increase in concentrated heavy rainfall, with some attributing the change to global warming.

(Japanese original by Mayumi Nobuta, Science & Environment News Department)

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