Evaluation of real-time flash flood forecasts for Haiti during the passage of Hurricane Tomas, November 4-6, 2010

TitleEvaluation of real-time flash flood forecasts for Haiti during the passage of Hurricane Tomas, November 4-6, 2010
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsShamir E, Georgakakos KP, Spencer C, Modrick TM, Murphy MJ, Jubach R
JournalNatural Hazards
Date Published2013/06
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0921-030X
Accession NumberWOS:000318494300016
Keywordsdesign; Disaster management; Flash flood forecast; Flash flood guidance; Haiti; Hurricane Tomas; hydrologic model; warning systems

The January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti left its population ever more vulnerable to rainfall-induced flash floods. A flash flood guidance system has been implemented to provide real-time information on the potential of small (similar to 70 km(2)) basins for flash flooding throughout Haiti. This system has components for satellite rainfall ingest and adjustment on the basis of rain gauge information, dynamic soil water deficit estimation, ingest of operational mesoscale model quantitative precipitation forecasts, and estimation of the times of channel flow at bankfull. The result of the system integration is the estimation of the flash flood guidance (FFG) for a given basin and for a given duration. FFG is the amount of rain of a given duration over a small basin that causes minor flooding in the outlet of the basin. Amounts predicted or nowcasted that are higher than the FFG indicate basins with potential for flash flooding. In preparation for Hurricane Tomas' landfall in early November 2010, the FFG system was used to generate 36-h forecasts of flash flood occurrence based on rainfall forecasts of the nested high-resolution North American Model of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. Assessment of the forecast flood maps and forecast precipitation indicates the utility and value of the forecasts in understanding the spatial distribution of the expected flooding for mitigation and disaster management. It also highlights the need for explicit uncertainty characterization of forecast risk products due to large uncertainties in quantitative precipitation forecasts on hydrologic basin scales.

Short TitleNat. Hazards