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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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  02 Jul 2020

02 Jul 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal NHESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

Hydrometeorological analysis and forecasting of a 3-day flash-flood-triggering desert rainstorm

Yair Rinat1, Francesco Marra1,2, Moshe Armon1, Asher Metzger1, Yoav Levi3, Pavel Khain3, Elyakom Vadislavsky3, Marcelo Rosensaft4, and Efrat Morin1 Yair Rinat et al.
  • 1Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
  • 2National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, CNR-ISAC, Bologna, Italy
  • 3Israel Meteorological Service, Beit Dagan, Israel
  • 4Geological Survey of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel

Abstract. Flash floods are among the most devastating and lethal natural hazards. In 2018, three flash-flood episodes resulted in 46 casualties in the deserts of Israel and Jordan alone. This paper presents the hydrometeorological analysis and forecasting of a substantial storm (25–27 Apr 2018) that hit an arid desert basin (Zin, ~ 1400 km2, southern Israel), claiming 12 human lives. Our aim was to: (a) spatially assess the severity of the storm, (b) quantify the time scale of the hydrological response, and (c) evaluate the available operational precipitation forecasting. Return periods of the storm's maximal rain intensities were derived locally, at 1-km2 resolution, using weather radar data and a novel statistical methodology. A high-resolution grid-based hydrological model was used to study the intra-basin flash-flood magnitudes, which were consistent with direct information from witnesses. The model was further used to examine the hydrological response to different forecast scenarios. A small portion of the basin (1–20 %) experienced extreme precipitation intensities (75- to 100-year return period), resulting in a local hydrological response of a high magnitude (10- to 50-year return period). Hillslope runoff, initiated minutes after the intense rainfall occurred, reached the streams and resulted in peak discharge within tens of minutes. Available deterministic operational precipitation forecasts poorly predicted the hydrological response in the studied basins (tens to hundreds of km2) mostly due to location inaccuracy. There was no gain from assimilating radar estimates in the numerical weather-prediction model. Therefore, we suggest using deterministic forecasts with caution as it might lead to fatal decision making. To cope with such errors a novel cost-effective methodology is applied by spatially shifting the forecasted precipitation fields. In this way, flash-flood occurrences were captured in most of the sub-basins, resulting in few false alarms.

Yair Rinat et al.

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Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Yair Rinat et al.

Video supplement

Desert Flash Flood 26-Apr-2018 The Hydrometeorology Lab at the Fredy and Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Yair Rinat et al.


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