Managing Wildfire Risk, Precipitation, and Transportation Infrastructure

Wildfires are a natural hazard that have grown in number, size and intensity in American West over the last few decades and forecasts predict these trends will continue. While wildfires alone can cause widespread destruction to communities and infrastructure, they also significantly alter the hydrologic response of the landscape. An extreme wildfire followed by a relatively common precipitation event can trigger significant flooding and debris movement. Existing wildfire mitigation initiatives focus on wildland urban interface communities and the response to postfire hydrologic effects is largely reactionary. This dynamic may produce troubling consequences for critical infrastructure systems in areas where wildfire and extreme precipitation seasons are coincident. To address the potential challenge, this paper examines 1) the threat of postfire flooding and debris movement in the forested region of Arizona, 2) the risks to the transportation system, and 3) how mobility could be impacted in the region. These examinations are accomplished by considering various hazards that contribute to wildfires and an extreme hydrologic response while assessing the relative importance of roadway links at risk utilizing a betweenness measurement. The results highlight a key area of the region where a wildfire would not likely directly threaten human lives or communities but could create significant postfire flooding and mobility issues.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee ABR10 Standing Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Protection.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

  • Authors:
    • Fraser, Andrew M
    • Chester, Mikhail V
    • Underwood, B Shane
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2019


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 18p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01697952
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-02020
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 1 2019 3:51PM