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Ami T. Arthur, Gina M. Cox, Nathan R. Kuhnert, David L. Slayter, and Kenneth W. Howard

The National Basin Delineation Project (NBDP) was undertaken by the National Severe Storms Laboratory to define flash-flood-scale basin boundaries for the country in support of the National Weather Service (NWS) Flash Flood Monitoring and Prediction (FFMP) system. FFMP-averaged basin rainfall calculations allow NWS forecasters to monitor precipitation in flash-flood-scale basins, improving their ability to make accurate and timely flash-flood-warning decisions. The NBDP was accomplished through a partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center (EDC). The one-arc-second (approximately 30 m)-resolution digital terrain data in the EDC's National Elevation Dataset provided the basis for derivation of the following digital maps using a geographic information system: 1) a grid of hydrologically conditioned elevation values (all grid cells have a defined flow direction), 2) a grid of flow direction indicating which of eight directions water will travel based on slope, 3) a grid of flow accumulation containing a count of the number of upstream grid cells contributing flow to each grid cell, 4) synthetic streamlines derived from the flow accumulation grid, and 5) flash-flood-scale basin boundaries. Special techniques were applied in coastal areas and closed basins (basins with no outflow) to ensure the accuracy of derived basins and streams. Codifying each basin with a unique identifier and including hydrologic connectivity information produced a versatile, seamless dataset for use in FFMP and other national applications.

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Jonathan J. Gourley, Zachary L. Flamig, Humberto Vergara, Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter, Robert A. Clark III, Elizabeth Argyle, Ami Arthur, Steven Martinaitis, Galateia Terti, Jessica M. Erlingis, Yang Hong, and Kenneth W. Howard

Abstract

This study introduces the Flooded Locations and Simulated Hydrographs (FLASH) project. FLASH is the first system to generate a suite of hydrometeorological products at flash flood scale in real-time across the conterminous United States, including rainfall average recurrence intervals, ratios of rainfall to flash flood guidance, and distributed hydrologic model–based discharge forecasts. The key aspects of the system are 1) precipitation forcing from the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)’s Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system, 2) a computationally efficient distributed hydrologic modeling framework with sufficient representation of physical processes for flood prediction, 3) capability to provide forecasts at all grid points covered by radars without the requirement of model calibration, and 4) an open-access development platform, product display, and verification system for testing new ideas in a real-time demonstration environment and for fostering collaborations.

This study assesses the FLASH system’s ability to accurately simulate unit peak discharges over a 7-yr period in 1,643 unregulated gauged basins. The evaluation indicates that FLASH’s unit peak discharges had a linear and rank correlation of 0.64 and 0.79, respectively, and that the timing of the peak discharges has errors less than 2 h. The critical success index with FLASH was 0.38 for flood events that exceeded action stage. FLASH performance is demonstrated and evaluated for case studies, including the 2013 deadly flash flood case in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the 2015 event in Houston, Texas—both of which occurred on Memorial Day weekends.

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Steven V. Vasiloff, Dong-Jun Seo, Kenneth W. Howard, Jian Zhang, David H. Kitzmiller, Mary G. Mullusky, Witold F. Krajewski, Edward A. Brandes, Robert M. Rabin, Daniel S. Berkowitz, Harold E. Brooks, John A. McGinley, Robert J. Kuligowski, and Barbara G. Brown

Accurate quantitative precipitation estimates (QPE) and very short term quantitative precipitation forecasts (VSTQPF) are critical to accurate monitoring and prediction of water-related hazards and water resources. While tremendous progress has been made in the last quarter-century in many areas of QPE and VSTQPF, significant gaps continue to exist in both knowledge and capabilities that are necessary to produce accurate high-resolution precipitation estimates at the national scale for a wide spectrum of users. Toward this goal, a national next-generation QPE and VSTQPF (Q2) workshop was held in Norman, Oklahoma, on 28–30 June 2005. Scientists, operational forecasters, water managers, and stakeholders from public and private sectors, including academia, presented and discussed a broad range of precipitation and forecasting topics and issues, and developed a list of science focus areas. To meet the nation's needs for the precipitation information effectively, the authors herein propose a community-wide integrated approach for precipitation information that fully capitalizes on recent advances in science and technology, and leverages the wide range of expertise and experience that exists in the research and operational communities. The concepts and recommendations from the workshop form the Q2 science plan and a suggested path to operations. Implementation of these concepts is expected to improve river forecasts and flood and flash flood watches and warnings, and to enhance various hydrologic and hydrometeorological services for a wide range of users and customers. In support of this initiative, the National Mosaic and Q2 (NMQ) system is being developed at the National Severe Storms Laboratory to serve as a community test bed for QPE and VSTQPF research and to facilitate the transition to operations of research applications. The NMQ system provides a real-time, around-the-clock data infusion and applications development and evaluation environment, and thus offers a community-wide platform for development and testing of advances in the focus areas.

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