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Brian Golding, Nigel Roberts, Giovanni Leoncini, Ken Mylne, and Richard Swinbank

ABSTRACT

Flooding is one of the costliest hazards in the United Kingdom. A large part of the annual flood damage is caused by surface water flooding that is a direct result of intense rainfall. Traditional catchment-based approaches to flood prediction are not applicable for surface water floods. However, given sufficiently accurate forecasts of rainfall intensity, with sufficient lead time, actions can be taken to reduce their impact. These actions require reliable information about severity and areas at risk that is clear and easily interpreted. The accuracy requirements, in particular, are very challenging, as they relate to prediction of intensities that occur only infrequently and that typically affect only small areas. In this paper, forecasts of intense rainfall from a new convection-permitting ensemble prediction system are evaluated using radar observations of intense rain and surface water flooding reports. An urban flooding case that occurred in Edinburgh in 2011 is first investigated and then a broader look is taken at performance through a 3-month period during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Conclusions are drawn about the value of the ensemble and the particular means of presenting the forecasts, and areas requiring further work are highlighted.

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