Developing an Improved Flood Prediction System

Photo credit Colorado Department of Transportation, 2013 Colorado Flood.

Challenge: 

Current flood and river flow prediction systems are based on algorithms that focus on statistical relationships between historical weather conditions and river flow levels measured at observations sites. This means that little information is known about the water flow and flood conditions where sensors do not exist.  New capabilities are required that factor in all the effects of the water cycle and can provide information in between sensor sites.

Solution: 

WRF-Hydro® System

Hydrometeorological research has led to the development of an advanced hydrologic prediction system called WRF-Hydro®. WRF-Hydro® system was originally designed as a framework designed to facilitate easier coupling between the Weather Research and Forecasting model and components of terrestrial hydrological models. WRF-Hydro® is both a stand-alone hydrological modeling architecture as well as a coupling architecture for coupling of hydrological models with atmospheric models.  It includes a multi-scale functionality to permit modeling of atmospheric, land surface and hydrological processes on different spatial grids.

Benefits: 

A configuration of WRF-Hydro® was adopted by the National Weather Service in 2016 as the operational NOAA National Water Model (NWM) which continuously forecasts hydrologic risk across the continental United States and is seen as the future of national water prediction. The National Water Model configuration of WRF-Hydro® is in its second operational version and has expanded its forecasting capability to Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Great Lakes regions.