All Weather News

New Water Forecast Model to Revolutionize Flood Forecasting

19 Aug 2016, 5:08 pm

On the heels of the deadly Louisiana flood, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and several other research organizations launched the first national water forecast model. It will provide an unprecedented look at how water will move through our nation’s rivers and streams. This is a game changer.

The current method provides a forecast for 4,000 locations across the US every few hours. With the new model, that number will skyrocket to 2.7 million locations every hour. Emergency managers, forecasters, and floodplain managers will have a more accurate, detailed picture of how rivers will react in flooding situations.

“Over the past 50 years, our capabilities have been limited to forecasting river flow at a relatively limited number of locations. This model expands our forecast locations 700 times and generates several additional water variables, such as soil moisture, runoff, stream velocity, and other parameters to produce a more comprehensive picture of water behavior across the country.” said Thomas Graziano, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s new Office of Water Prediction at the National Weather Service.

The model will provide water forecast information for many areas that currently aren’t covered. As it evolves, the model will provide “zoomed-in,” street-level forecasts and inundation maps to improve flood warnings, and will expand to include water quality forecasts.

“With a changing climate, we’re experiencing more prolonged droughts and a greater frequency of record-breaking floods across the country, underscoring the nation’s need for expanded water information,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director of the National Weather Service. “The National Water Model will improve resiliency to water extremes in American communities. And as our forecasts get better, so will our planning and protection of life and property when there’s either too much water, too little, or poor water quality.”

For WeatherNation:  Meteorologist Karissa Klos

Headline image: NOAA

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