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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Ecohydrological Processes, Scale, Climate Variability, and Watershed Management

Location: Southwest Watershed Research

Title: All-season flash flood forecasting system for real-time operations

Authors
item Broxton, P., -
item Troch, P. -
item Schaffner, M. -
item Unkrich, Carl
item Goodrich, David

Submitted to: Bulletin of the American Meterological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 2013
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Citation: Broxton, P., Troch, P., Schaffner, M., Unkrich, C.L., Goodrich, D.C. 2014. All-season flash flood forecasting system for real-time operations. Bulletin of the American Meterological Society. 95:399–407. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00212.1.

Interpretive Summary: Fast responding headwater river basins and small streams pose a significant threat to life and property throughout the United States. The National Weather Service (NWS) of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for providing flash flood warnings to the public. In this study, the NWS, in cooperation with the USDA-ARS, and the University of Arizona, developed a modeling system (KINEROS/hsB-SM) to treat runoff generated from fast responding overland flow, slower responding groundwater storm response, and runoff generated from snowmelt and rain on snow. It also includes the ability to incorporate high-resolution weather and radar data from the National Weather Service. The model is currently being used in an operational evaluation at the National Weather Service Binghamton, New York Weather Forecast Office. The evaluation demonstrated that KINEROS/hsB-SM can be successfully used for flash flood forecasting in the area. The KINEROS/hsB-SM modeling system provided valuable information on the size and timing of flash flood which is not available using current operational NOAA/NWS flash flood forecasting methodologies.

Technical Abstract: Flash floods can cause extensive damage to both life and property, especially because they are difficult to predict. Flash flood prediction requires high-resolution meteorologic observations and predictions, as well as calibrated hydrologic models in addition to extensive data handling. We have developed a working prototype for such a system, called KINEROS/hsB-SM after the hydrological models that are used: the Kinematic Erosion and Runoff (KINEROS) and hillslope-storage Boussinesq Soil Moisture (hsB-SM) Models. KINEROS is an event-based overland flow and channel routing model that is designed to simulate flash floods in regions where infiltration excess overland flow is the dominant flood generation mechanism while hsB-SM is a continuous subsurface flow model, whose model physics are applicable in humid regions where saturation excess overland flow is important. In addition, KINEROS/hsB-SM includes an energy-balance snowmelt model that runs alongside hsB-SM which gives KINEROS/hsB-SM the ability to simulate flash floods that involve rain on snow. There are also extensive algorithms to incorporate high-resolution hydrometeorologic data, including Stage III radar data (5 minute, 1 degree by 1 km), to assist in the calibration of the models, and to run the model in real time. The model is currently being used in an experimental fashion at the National Weather Service Binghamton, New York Weather Forecast Office.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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