Quantitative hydrologic forecasting usually requires knowledge of the spatial and temporal distribution of precipitation. First, it is important to accurately measure the precipitation falling over a particular watershed of interest. Second, especially for small watersheds and/or for longer forecast lead times, forecasts of precipitation are critical to the achievement of the greatest possible hydrologic forecast accuracy and longest possible lead time. This paper describes the current hydrologic forecasting program of the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) and highlights the relevance of Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting (QPF) products to real-time hydrologic forecasting. Specific requirements for QPF products in support of hydrologic forecasting applications are defined and current operational QPF procedures are reviewed to determine to what extent they meet these requirements. It is concluded that no known QPF procedures capable of fulfilling all desired requirements are currently available operationally, although much valuable QPF information is available to meet parts of these requirements. Some recent advances in mesoscale QPF research are examined and these techniques are treated in two categories: those uncoupled dynamically from and those dynamically coupled to hydrologic forecasting procedures. Finally, a summary of possible future directions toward achieving improved use of QPF information in hydrologic forecasting applications is presented.

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Footnotes

1 National Research Council/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Research Associate.

2 Chief, Hydrologic Research Laboratory, Office of Hydrology, National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.