Articles | Volume 16, issue 8
Research article
03 Aug 2016
Research article |  | 03 Aug 2016

What if the 25 October 2011 event that struck Cinque Terre (Liguria) had happened in Genoa, Italy? Flooding scenarios, hazard mapping and damage estimation

Francesco Silvestro, Nicola Rebora, Lauro Rossi, Daniele Dolia, Simone Gabellani, Flavio Pignone, Eva Trasforini, Roberto Rudari, Silvia De Angeli, and Cristiano Masciulli

Abstract. During the autumn of 2011 two catastrophic, very intense rainfall events affected two different parts of the Liguria Region of Italy causing various flash floods. The first occurred in October and the second at the beginning of November. Both the events were characterized by very high rainfall intensities (> 100 mm h−1) that persisted on a small portion of territory causing local huge rainfall accumulations (> 400 mm 6 h−1).

Two main considerations were made in order to set up this work. The first consideration is that various studies demonstrated that the two events had a similar genesis and similar triggering elements. The second very evident and coarse concern is that two main elements are needed to have a flash flood: a very intense and localized rainfall event and a catchment (or a group of catchments) to be affected. Starting from these assumptions we did the exercise of mixing the two flash flood ingredients by putting the rainfall field of the first event on the main catchment struck by the second event, which has its mouth in the biggest city of the Liguria Region: Genoa.

A complete framework was set up to quantitatively carry out a “what if” experiment with the aim of evaluating the possible damages associated with this event. A probabilistic rainfall downscaling model was used to generate possible rainfall scenarios maintaining the main characteristics of the observed rainfall fields while a hydrological model transformed these rainfall scenarios in streamflow scenarios. A subset of streamflow scenarios is then used as input to a 2-D hydraulic model to estimate the hazard maps, and finally a proper methodology is applied for damage estimation. This leads to the estimation of the potential economic losses and of the risk level for the people that stay in the affected area.

The results are interesting, surprising and in a way worrying: a rare but not impossible event (it occurred about 50 km away from Genoa) would have caused huge damages estimated between 120 and EUR 230 million for the affected part of the city of Genoa, Italy, and more than 17 000 potentially affected people.

Final-revised paper