Articles | Volume 12, issue 3
Research article
23 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 23 Mar 2012

Operational verification of a framework for the probabilistic nowcasting of river discharge in small and medium size basins

F. Silvestro and N. Rebora

Abstract. Forecasting river discharge is a very important issue for the prediction and monitoring of ground effects related to severe precipitation events. The meteorological forecast systems are unable to predict precipitation on small spatial (few km) and temporal (hourly) scales. For these reasons the issuing of reliable flood forecasts is not feasible in those regions where the basin's response to rainfall events is very fast and can generate flash floods. This problem can be tackled by using rainfall nowcasting techniques based on radar observations coupled with hydrological modeling. These procedures allow the forecasting of future streamflow with a few hours' notice. However, to account for the short-term uncertainties in the evolution of fine scale precipitation field, a probabilistic approach to rainfall nowcasting is needed. These uncertainties are then propagated from rainfall to runoff through a distributed hydrological model producing a set of equi-probable discharge scenarios to be used for the flood nowcasting with time horizons of a few hours. Such a hydrological nowcasting system is presented here and applied to some case studies. A first evaluation of its applicability in an operational context is provided and the opportunity of using the results quantitatively is discussed.