An approach to forecasting the potential for flash flood-producing storms is developed, using the notion of basic ingredients. Heavy precipitation is the result of sustained high rainfall rates. In turn, high rainfall rates involve the rapid ascent of air containing substantial water vapor and also depend on the precipitation efficiency. The duration of an event is associated with its speed of movement and the size of the system causing the event along the direction of system movement.

This leads naturally to a consideration of the meteorological processes by which these basic ingredients are brought together. A description of those processes and of the types of heavy precipitation-producing storms suggests some of the variety of ways in which heavy precipitation occurs. Since the right mixture of these ingredients can be found in a wide variety of synoptic and mesoscale situations, it is necessary to know which of the ingredients is critical in any given case. By knowing which of the ingredients is most important in any given case, forecasters can concentrate on recognition of the developing heavy precipitation potential as meteorological processes operate. This also helps with the recognition of heavy rain events as they occur, a challenging problem if the potential for such events has not been anticipated.

Three brief case examples are presented to illustrate the procedure as it might be applied in operations. The cases are geographically diverse and even illustrate how a nonconvective heavy precipitation event fits within this methodology. The concept of ingredients-based forecasting is discussed as it might apply to a broader spectrum of forecast events than just flash flood forecasting.

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