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Marcos L. Pessoa
Rafael L. Bras
, and
Earle R. Williams


Weather radar, in combination with a distributed rainfall-runoff model, promises to significantly improve real-time flood forecasting. This paper investigates the value of radar-derived precipitation in forecasting streamflow in the Sieve River basin, near Florence, Italy. The basin is modeled with a distributed rainfall-runoff model that exploits topographic information available from digital elevation maps. The sensitivity of the flood forecast to various properties of the radar-derived rainfall is studied. It is found that use of the proper radar reflectivity-rainfall intensity (Z-R) relationship is the most crucial factor in obtaining correct food hydrographs. Errors resulting from spatially averaging radar rainfall are acceptable, but the use of discrete point information (i.e., raingage) can lead to serious problems. Reducing the resolution of the 5-min radar signal by temporally averaging over 15 and 30 min does not lead to major errors. Using 3-bit radar data (rather than the usual 8-bit data) to represent intensifies results in significant operational savings without serious problems in hydrograph accuracy.

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