Vulnerability of transport infrastructure to extreme weather events in small rural catchments
Across the Mediterranean region, extreme weather events (EWE), such as high-intensity storms causing flooding in small river basins, are one of the most common types of hydrometeorological hazards. Flooding has been associated with severe effects on road networks and a significant number of vehicle-related fatalities, raising concerns regarding the performance of transportation infrastructure during EWEs. Given the expected increase in frequency of such events within the context of climate change, an assessment of its vulnerability is particularly crucial. The work presented herein evaluates the performance of transportation infrastructure during high-intensity storms. This research focuses on small rural catchments, examining the impact of five extreme storm events in five rural basins in Greece. Post-flood surveys were conducted, to record the impact of inundation on each infrastructure element in the five catchments. Overall, findings showed that road infrastructure, especially river crossings, performed poorly, restricting access to large areas during and after the events, affecting the safety of commuters and sustaining extensive damages. On average, it was found that 73% of the river crossings and 11.5% of the total length of the road network were inundated or damaged, while a total of 12 individuals died during the events. The results revealed that the impact of flooding in the transportation infrastructure of small rural basins was severe and a threat to human life. The findings of this study indicate that authorities should consider taking measures during EWEs, reexamine the safety features of the relevant infrastructure and assess the risk related to its failure.