An observational and numerical study of a flash-flood event over south-eastern Italy
Abstract. A flash-flood episode affecting a small area in Apulia (south-eastern Italy) on 22 October 2005 is documented. A rainfall amount of 160 mm was recorded in a 6 h interval in the central part of the region, producing severe damage and causing six fatalities. Synoptic maps, observations from surface stations and remote-sensing data are used here to describe the evolution of the rainfall system. The vertical profiles show features similar to those observed in other orographic heavy-rain events, such as a low-level jet, a conditionally unstable environment, and a nearly saturated warm low-level air mass. The low hills in the centre of the region play an important role in the release of the instability and the localisation of the rainfall, providing the uplift necessary to the air parcels to reach the level of free convection. Numerical simulations are performed in order to understand the mechanisms responsible for the heavy rain event. The Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) is setup in a 2-way nesting configuration including two domains. The model is able to realistically simulate the evolution of the precipitation system and to capture fairly well the localisation, the amount and the timing of the rainfall. The simulations suggest the important synergy of low and upper-tropospheric features which act as the triggering mechanism for the development of convection. A sensitivity experiment confirms the importance of the orography for the development of convective cells.