Improving Flash Flood Forecasts: The HMT-WPC Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall Experiment

Faye E. Barthold I .M. Systems Group, Inc., Rockville, Maryland, and NOAA/NWS/Weather Prediction Center, College Park, Maryland

Search for other papers by Faye E. Barthold in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Thomas E. Workoff Systems Research Group, Inc., Colorado Springs, Colorado, and NOAA/NWS/Weather Prediction Center, College Park, Maryland

Search for other papers by Thomas E. Workoff in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Brian A. Cosgrove NOAA/NWS/National Water Center, Silver Spring, Maryland

Search for other papers by Brian A. Cosgrove in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Jonathan J. Gourley NOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

Search for other papers by Jonathan J. Gourley in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
David R. Novak NOAA/NWS/Weather Prediction Center, College Park, Maryland

Search for other papers by David R. Novak in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Kelly M. Mahoney Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, and NOAA/ESRL/Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, Colorado

Search for other papers by Kelly M. Mahoney in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

Despite advancements in numerical modeling and the increasing prevalence of convection-allowing guidance, flash flood forecasting remains a substantial challenge. Accurate flash flood forecasts depend not only on accurate quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs), but also on an understanding of the corresponding hydrologic response. To advance forecast skill, innovative guidance products that blend meteorology and hydrology are needed, as well as a comprehensive verification dataset to identify areas in need of improvement.

To address these challenges, in 2013 the Hydrometeorological Testbed at the Weather Prediction Center (HMT-WPC), partnering with the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), developed and hosted the inaugural Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall (FFaIR) Experiment. In its first two years, the experiment has focused on ways to combine meteorological guidance with available hydrologic information. One example of this is the creation of neighborhood flash flood guidance (FFG) exceedance probabilities, which combine QPF information from convection-allowing ensembles with flash flood guidance; these were found to provide valuable information about the flash flood threat across the contiguous United States.

Additionally, WPC has begun to address the challenge of flash flood verification by developing a verification database that incorporates observations from a variety of disparate sources in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of flash flooding across the nation. While the development of this database represents an important step forward in the verification of flash flood forecasts, many of the other challenges identified during the experiment will require a long-term community effort in order to make notable advancements.

CURRENT AFFILIATION: NOAA/NWS/WFO New York, NY, Upton, New York

CURRENT AFFILIATION: FirstEnergy, Akron, Ohio

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Faye E. Barthold, NOAA/NWS/WFO New York, NY, 175 Brookhaven Avenue, Upton, NY 11973, E-mail: faye.barthold@noaa.gov

Abstract

Despite advancements in numerical modeling and the increasing prevalence of convection-allowing guidance, flash flood forecasting remains a substantial challenge. Accurate flash flood forecasts depend not only on accurate quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs), but also on an understanding of the corresponding hydrologic response. To advance forecast skill, innovative guidance products that blend meteorology and hydrology are needed, as well as a comprehensive verification dataset to identify areas in need of improvement.

To address these challenges, in 2013 the Hydrometeorological Testbed at the Weather Prediction Center (HMT-WPC), partnering with the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), developed and hosted the inaugural Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall (FFaIR) Experiment. In its first two years, the experiment has focused on ways to combine meteorological guidance with available hydrologic information. One example of this is the creation of neighborhood flash flood guidance (FFG) exceedance probabilities, which combine QPF information from convection-allowing ensembles with flash flood guidance; these were found to provide valuable information about the flash flood threat across the contiguous United States.

Additionally, WPC has begun to address the challenge of flash flood verification by developing a verification database that incorporates observations from a variety of disparate sources in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of flash flooding across the nation. While the development of this database represents an important step forward in the verification of flash flood forecasts, many of the other challenges identified during the experiment will require a long-term community effort in order to make notable advancements.

CURRENT AFFILIATION: NOAA/NWS/WFO New York, NY, Upton, New York

CURRENT AFFILIATION: FirstEnergy, Akron, Ohio

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Faye E. Barthold, NOAA/NWS/WFO New York, NY, 175 Brookhaven Avenue, Upton, NY 11973, E-mail: faye.barthold@noaa.gov
Save
  • Brooks, H. E., M. Kay, and J. A. Hart, 1998: Objective limits on forecasting skill of rare events. Preprints, 19th Conf. on Severe Local Storms, Minneapolis, MN, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 552555.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ebert, E. E., 2008: Fuzzy verification of high resolution gridded forecasts: A review and proposed framework. Meteor. Appl., 15, 5166, doi:10.1002/met.25.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Elmore, K. L., Z. L. Flemig, V. Lakshmanann, B. T. Kaney, V. Farmer, H. D. Reeves, and L. P. Rothfusz, 2014: MPING: Crowd-sourcing weather reports for research. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 95, 13351342, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00014.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fritsch, J. M., and R. E. Carbone, 2004: Improving quantitative precipitation forecasts in the warm season: A USWRP research and development strategy. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 85, 955964, doi:10.1175/BAMS-85-7-955.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gochis, D. J., W. Yu, and D. N. Yates, 2014: The WRF-Hydro model technical description and user's guide, version 2.0. NCAR Technical Document, 120 pp.

  • Gourley, J. J., and Coauthors, 2013: A unified flash flood database across the United States. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 94, 799805, doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00198.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hitchens, N. M., H. E. Brooks, and M. P. Kay, 2013: Objective limits on forecasting skill of rare events. Wea. Forecasting, 28, 525534, doi:10.1175/WAF-D-12-00113.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hong, Y., and J. J. Gourley, 2015: Radar Hydrology: Principles, Models, and Applications. 1st ed. CRC Press, 180 pp.

  • Jirak, I. L., S. J. Weiss, and C. J. Melick, 2012: The SPC storm-scale ensemble of opportunity: Overview and results from the 2012 Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Forecasting Experiment. Preprints, 26th Conf. on Severe Local Storms, Nashville, TN. Amer. Meteor. Soc. P9.137.

  • NOAA, 2012: Hydrologic Services Program, Definitions and General Terminology. National Weather Service Manual 10–950, 5 pp, [Available online at www.nws.noaa.gov/directives/sym/pd01009050curr.pdf.]

  • Reed, S., J. Schaake, and Z. Zhang, 2007: A distributed hydrologic model and threshold frequency-based method for flash flood forecasting at ungauged locations. J. Hydrol., 337, 402420, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2007.02.015.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schmidt, J. A., A. J. Anderson, and J. H. Paul, 2007: Spatially variable, physically-derived flash flood guidance. Preprints, 21st Conf. on Hydrology, San Antonio, TX, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 6B.2.

  • Schwartz, C. S., and Coauthors, 2009: Next-day convection-allowing WRF model guidance: A second look at 2-km versus 4-km grid spacing. Mon. Wea. Rev., 137, 33513372, doi:10.1175/2009MWR2924.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schwartz, C. S., and Coauthors, 2010: Toward improved convection-allowing ensembles: Model physics sensitivities and optimizing probabilistic guidance with small ensemble membership. Wea. Forecasting, 25, 263280, doi:10.1175/2009WAF2222267.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sukovich, E. M., F. M. Ralph, F. E. Barthold, D. W. Reynolds, and D. R. Novak, 2014: Extreme quantitative precipitation forecast performance at the Weather Prediction Center from 2001 to 2011. Wea. Forecasting, 29, 894911, doi:10.1175/WAF-D-13-00061.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sweeney, T. L., 1992: Modernized areal flash flood guidance. NOAA Tech. Rep. NWS HYDRO 44, Hydrologic Research Laboratory, National Weather Service, NOAA, 21 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 721 190 16
PDF Downloads 503 134 26