Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


First Advisor

Mark Anderson

Second Advisor

Clinton Rowe

Third Advisor

Rezaul Mahmood

Date of this Version

Spring 4-27-2022


Bundy, L. R., 2022: An Investigation of Water Obstructions and Related Weather Conditions for Nebraska Roadways. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfilment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Mark R. Anderson. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Logan R. Bundy


Roadway resilience across the 10,000 miles of road and 3,500 bridges in Nebraska is critical to the economic success of production and logistics. In a state where historical flooding scenarios, such as the one in March 2019 that caused $150 million in damage, could potentially be increasing, it has become essential to understand the spatial and temporal distribution of high-frequency water obstruction areas on roadways. Using Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) historical water obstruction data from June 2016 through August 2021, statistical and spatial analyses were conducted to quantify the relationship between water obstructions and their associated meteorological conditions, and identify the potential linkages between water obstructions and climate patterns. Within the study period, 298 total unique water obstructions occurred; 174 came from March 2019, and a total of 225 coming from 2019 alone. On a median basis, the Nebraska experiences 13 water obstructions annually and these occur primarily in the summer season. Groundwater, ice jamming, and long- and short-duration precipitation obstructions have occurred most frequently in the northern and eastern domains of Nebraska. There is a greater risk of water obstructions reoccurring in specific areas given the exposure to the weather-related hazards on average, combined with the higher density of roadways that are exposed to rivers such as the Elkhorn and Platte. A key finding in this analysis was that water obstructions over the study period were closely related with 30-year climatological data, which can then be used for water obstruction risk assessment on a seasonal and annual basis. In addition to identifying specific high-frequency water obstruction locations, there is a predictable relationship between weather, climate, and roadway water obstructions. A fundamental understanding of the water obstruction spatiotemporal climatology, knowledge of where water obstructions have occurred the most, and identifying the precursor and future meteorological conditions, a more proactive approach can be taken in the onset of potential water obstructions. Further, the identification of the high-frequency water obstruction locations can be considered for mitigation efforts to increase the resiliency of travel from water obstructions.

Advisor: Mark R. Anderson