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  • Author or Editor: Witold F. Krajewski x
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Bong-Chul Seo, Felipe Quintero, and Witold F. Krajewski

Abstract

This study addresses the uncertainty of High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs), which were recently appended to the operational hydrologic forecasting framework. In this study, we examine the uncertainty features of HRRR QPFs for an Iowa flooding event that occurred in September 2016. Our evaluation of HRRR QPFs is based on the conventional approach of QPF verification and the analysis of mean areal precipitation (MAP) with respect to forecast lead time. The QPF verification results show that the precipitation forecast skill of HRRR significantly drops during short lead times and then gradually decreases for further lead times. The MAP analysis also demonstrates that the QPF error sharply increases during short lead times and starts decreasing slightly beyond 4-h lead time. We found that the variability of QPF error measured in terms of MAP decreases as basin scale and lead time become larger and longer, respectively. The effects of QPF uncertainty on hydrologic prediction are quantified through the hillslope-link model (HLM) simulations using hydrologic performance metrics (e.g., Kling–Gupta efficiency). The simulation results agree to some degree with those from the MAP analysis, finding that the performance achieved from the QPF forcing decreases during 1–3-h lead times and starts increasing with 4–6-h lead times. The best performance acquired at the 1-h lead time does not seem acceptable because of the large overestimation of the flood peak, along with an erroneous early peak that is not observed in streamflow observations. This study provides further evidence that HRRR contains a well-known weakness at short lead times, and the QPF uncertainty (e.g., bias) described as a function of forecast lead times should be corrected before its use in hydrologic prediction.

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Alexandros A. Ntelekos, Konstantine P. Georgakakos, and Witold F. Krajewski

Abstract

Quantifying uncertainty associated with flash flood warning or forecast systems is required to enable informed decision making by those responsible for operation and management of natural hazard protection systems. The current system used by the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) to issue flash-flood warnings and watches over the Unites States is a purely deterministic system. The authors propose a simple approach to augment the Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) with uncertainty propagation components. The authors briefly discuss the main components of the system, propose changes to improve it, and allow accounting for several sources of uncertainty. They illustrate their discussion with examples of uncertainty quantification procedures for several small basins of the Illinois River basin in Oklahoma. As the current FFGS is tightly coupled with two technologies, that is, threshold-runoff mapping and the Sacramento Soil Moisture Accounting Hydrologic Model, the authors discuss both as sources of uncertainty. To quantify and propagate those sources of uncertainty throughout the system, they develop a simple version of the Sacramento model and use Monte Carlo simulation to study several uncertainty scenarios. The results point out the significance of the stream characteristics such as top width and the hydraulic depth on the overall uncertainty of the Flash Flood Guidance System. They also show that the overall flash flood guidance uncertainty is higher under drier initial soil moisture conditions. The results presented herein, although limited, are a necessary first step toward the development of probabilistic operational flash flood guidance forecast-response systems.

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Bong-Chul Seo, Witold F. Krajewski, Felipe Quintero, Steve Buan, and Brian Connelly

Abstract

This study assesses streamflow predictions generated by two distributed hydrologic models, the Hillslope Link Model (HLM) and the National Water Model (NWM), driven by three radar-based precipitation forcing datasets. These forcing data include the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS), and the Iowa Flood Center’s single-polarization-based (IFC-SP) and dual-polarization-based (IFC-DP) products. To examine forcing- and model-dependent aspects of the representation of hydrologic processes, we mixed and matched all forcing data and models, and simulated streamflow for 2016–18 based on six forcing–model combinations. The forcing product evaluation using independent ground reference data showed that the IFC-DP radar-only product’s accuracy is comparable to MRMS, which is rain gauge corrected. Streamflow evaluation at 140 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stations in Iowa demonstrated that the HLM tended to perform slightly better than the NWM, generating streamflow with smaller volume errors and higher predictive power as measured by Kling–Gupta efficiency (KGE). The authors also inspected the effect of estimation errors in the forcing products on streamflow generation and found that MRMS’s slight underestimation bias led to streamflow underestimation for all simulation years, particularly with the NWM. The less biased product (IFC-DP), which has higher error variability, resulted in increased runoff volumes with larger dispersion of errors compared to the ones derived from MRMS. Despite its tendency to underestimate, MRMS showed consistent performance with lower error variability as reflected by the KGE. The dispersion observed from the evaluation metrics (e.g., volume error and KGE) seems to decrease as scale becomes larger, implying that random errors in forcing are likely to average out at larger-scale basins. The evaluation of simulated peaks revealed that an accurate estimation of peak (e.g., time and magnitude) remains challenging, as demonstrated by the highly scattered distribution of peak errors for both hydrologic models.

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C. Bryan Young, A. Allen Bradley, Witold F. Krajewski, Anton Kruger, and Mark L. Morrissey

Abstract

Next-Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) multisensor precipitation estimates will be used for a host of applications that include operational streamflow forecasting at the National Weather Service River Forecast Centers (RFCs) and nonoperational purposes such as studies of weather, climate, and hydrology. Given these expanding applications, it is important to understand the quality and error characteristics of NEXRAD multisensor products. In this paper, the issues involved in evaluating these products are examined through an assessment of a 5.5-yr record of multisensor estimates from the Arkansas–Red Basin RFC. The objectives were to examine how known radar biases manifest themselves in the multisensor product and to quantify precipitation estimation errors. Analyses included comparisons of multisensor estimates based on different processing algorithms, comparisons with gauge observations from the Oklahoma Mesonet and the Agricultural Research Service Micronet, and the application of a validation framework to quantify error characteristics. This study reveals several complications to such an analysis, including a paucity of independent gauge data. These obstacles are discussed and recommendations are made to help to facilitate routine verification of NEXRAD products.

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Yan Zhang, James A. Smith, Alexandros A. Ntelekos, Mary Lynn Baeck, Witold F. Krajewski, and Fred Moshary

Abstract

Heavy precipitation in the northeastern United States is examined through observational and numerical modeling analyses for a weather system that produced extreme rainfall rates and urban flash flooding over the New York–New Jersey region on 4–5 October 2006. Hydrometeorological analyses combine observations from Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) weather radars, the National Lightning Detection Network, surface observing stations in the northeastern United States, a vertically pointing lidar system, and a Joss–Waldvogel disdrometer with simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF). Rainfall analyses from the Hydro-Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) system, based on observations from WSR-88D radars in State College, Pennsylvania, and Fort Dix, New Jersey, and WRF model simulations show that heavy rainfall was organized into long-lived lines of convective precipitation, with associated regions of stratiform precipitation, that develop along a frontal zone.

Structure and evolution of convective storm elements that produced extreme rainfall rates over the New York–New Jersey urban corridor were influenced by the complex terrain of the central Appalachians, the diurnal cycle of convection, and the history of convective evolution in the frontal zone. Extreme rainfall rates and flash flooding were produced by a “leading line–trailing stratiform” system that was rapidly dissipating as it passed over the New York–New Jersey region. Radar, disdrometer, and lidar observations are used in combination with model analyses to examine the dynamical and cloud microphysical processes that control the spatial and temporal structure of heavy rainfall. The study illustrates key elements of the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall that can be used to characterize flash flood hazards in the urban corridor of the northeastern United States.

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James A. Smith, Mary Lynn Baeck, Gabriele Villarini, and Witold F. Krajewski

Abstract

Extreme floods in the Delaware River basin are examined through analyses of a sequence of record and near-record floods during September 2004, April 2005, and June 2006. The three flood episodes reflect three principal flood-generating mechanisms in the eastern United States: tropical cyclones (September 2004); late winter–early spring extratropical systems (April 2005); and warm-season convective systems (June 2006). Extreme flooding in the Delaware River basin is the product of heavy rainfall and runoff from high-gradient portions of the watershed. Orographic precipitation mechanisms play a central role in the extreme flood climatology of the Delaware River basin and, more generally, for the eastern United States. Extreme flooding for the 2004–06 events was produced in large measure from forested portions of the watershed. Analyses of flood frequency based on annual flood peak observations from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gauging stations with “long” records illustrate the striking heterogeneity of flood response over the region, the important role of landfalling tropical cyclones for the upper tail of flood peak distributions, and the prevalence of nonstationarities in flood peak records. Analyses show that changepoints are a more common source of nonstationarity than linear time trends. Regulation by dams and reservoirs plays an important role in determining changepoints, but the downstream effects of reservoirs on flood distributions are limited.

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Merhala Thurai, Kumar Vijay Mishra, V. N. Bringi, and Witold F. Krajewski

Abstract

Data analyses for the mobile Iowa X-band polarimetric (XPOL) radar from a long-duration rain event that occurred during the NASA Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) field campaign are presented. A network of six 2D video disdrometers (2DVDs) is used to derive four rain-rate estimators for the XPOL-5 radar. The rain accumulation validations with a collocated network of twin and triple tipping-bucket rain gauges have highlighted the need for combined algorithms because no single estimator was found to be sufficient for all cases considered. A combined version of weighted and composite algorithms is introduced, including a new R(A h, Z dr) rainfall estimator for X band, where A h is the specific attenuation for horizontal polarization and Z dr is the differential reflectivity. Based on measurement and algorithm errors, the weights are derived to be as piecewise constant functions over reflectivity values. The weights are later turned into continuous functions using smoothing splines. A methodology to derive the weights in near–real time is proposed for the composite-weighted algorithm. Comparisons of 2-h accumulations and 8-h event totals obtained from the XPOL-5 with 12 rain gauges have shown 10%–40% improvement in normalized bias over individual rainfall estimators. The analyses have enabled the development of rain-rate estimators for the Iowa XPOL.

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Felipe Quintero, Witold F. Krajewski, Ricardo Mantilla, Scott Small, and Bong-Chul Seo

Abstract

Rainfall maps that are derived from satellite observations provide hydrologists with an unprecedented opportunity to forecast floods globally. However, the limitations of using these precipitation estimates with respect to producing reliable flood forecasts at multiple scales are not well understood. To address the scientific and practical question of applicability of space-based rainfall products for global flood forecasting, a data evaluation framework is developed that allows tracking the rainfall effects in space and time across scales in the river network. This provides insights on the effects of rainfall product resolution and uncertainty. Obtaining such insights is not possible when the hydrologic evaluation is based on discharge observations from single gauges. The proposed framework also explores the ability of hydrologic model structure to answer questions pertaining to the utility of space-based rainfall observations for flood forecasting. To illustrate the framework, hydrometeorological data collected during the Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) campaign in Iowa are used to perform a hydrologic simulation using two different rainfall–runoff model structures and three rainfall products, two of which are radar based [stage IV and Iowa Flood Center (IFC)] and one satellite based [TMPA–Research Version (RV)]. This allows for exploring the differences in rainfall estimates at several spatial and temporal scales and provides improved understanding of how these differences affect flood predictions at multiple basin scales. The framework allows for exploring the differences in peak flow estimation due to nonlinearities in the hydrologic model structure and determining how these differences behave with an increase in the upstream area through the drainage network. The framework provides an alternative evaluation of precipitation estimates, based on the diagnostics of hydrological model results.

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Luciana K. Cunha, James A. Smith, Witold F. Krajewski, Mary Lynn Baeck, and Bong-Chul Seo

Abstract

The NEXRAD program has recently upgraded the WSR-88D network observational capability with dual polarization (DP). In this study, DP quantitative precipitation estimates (QPEs) provided by the current version of the NWS system are evaluated using a dense rain gauge network and two other single-polarization (SP) rainfall products. The analyses are performed for the period and spatial domain of the Iowa Flood Studies (IFloodS) campaign. It is demonstrated that the current version (2014) of QPE from DP is not superior to that from SP mainly because DP QPE equations introduce larger bias than the conventional rainfall–reflectivity [i.e., R(Z)] relationship for some hydrometeor types. Moreover, since the QPE algorithm is based on hydrometeor type, abrupt transitions in the phase of hydrometeors introduce errors in QPE with surprising variation in space that cannot be easily corrected using rain gauge data. In addition, the propagation of QPE uncertainties across multiple hydrological scales is investigated using a diagnostic framework. The proposed method allows us to quantify QPE uncertainties at hydrologically relevant scales and provides information for the evaluation of hydrological studies forced by these rainfall datasets.

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Efrat Morin, Witold F. Krajewski, David C. Goodrich, Xiaogang Gao, and Soroosh Sorooshian

Abstract

Meteorological radar is a remote sensing system that provides rainfall estimations at high spatial and temporal resolutions. The radar-based rainfall intensities (R) are calculated from the observed radar reflectivities (Z). Often, rain gauge rainfall observations are used in combination with the radar data to find the optimal parameters in the ZR transformation equation. The scale dependency of the power-law ZR parameters when estimated from radar reflectivity and rain gauge intensity data is explored herein. The multiplicative (a) and exponent (b) parameters are said to be “scale dependent” if applying the observed and calculated rainfall intensities to objective function at different scale results in different “optimal” parameters. Radar and gauge data were analyzed from convective storms over a midsize, semiarid, and well-equipped watershed. Using the root-mean-square difference (rmsd) objective function, a significant scale dependency was observed. Increased time- and space scales resulted in a considerable increase of the a parameter and decrease of the b parameter. Two sources of uncertainties related to scale dependency were examined: 1) observational uncertainties, which were studied both experimentally and with simplified models that allow representation of observation errors; and 2) model uncertainties. It was found that observational errors are mainly (but not only) associated with positive bias of the b parameter that is reduced with integration, at least for small scales. Model errors also result in scale dependency, but the trend is less systematic, as in the case of observational errors. It is concluded that identification of optimal scale for ZR relationship determination requires further knowledge of reflectivity and rain-intensity error structure.

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