Is flow velocity a significant parameter in flood damage modelling?
Flow velocity is generally presumed to influence flood damage. However, this influence is hardly quantified and virtually no damage models take it into account. Therefore, the influences of flow velocity, water depth and combinations of these two impact parameters on various types of flood damage were investigated in five communities affected by the Elbe catchment flood in Germany in 2002. 2-D hydraulic models with high to medium spatial resolutions were used to calculate the impact parameters at the sites in which damage occurred. A significant influence of flow velocity on structural damage, particularly on roads, could be shown in contrast to a minor influence on monetary losses and business interruption. Forecasts of structural damage to road infrastructure should be based on flow velocity alone. The energy head is suggested as a suitable flood impact parameter for reliable forecasting of structural damage to residential buildings above a critical impact level of 2m of energy head or water depth. However, general consideration of flow velocity in flood damage modelling, particularly for estimating monetary loss, cannot be recommended.