A methodological framework for the evaluation of short-range flash-flood hydrometeorological forecasts at the event scale

Charpentier-Noyer, Maryse ; Peredo, Daniela ; Fleury, Axelle ; Marchal, Hugo ; Bouttier, François ; Gaume, Eric ; Nicolle, Pierre ; Payrastre, Olivier ; Ramos, Maria-Helena

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<p align=justify>This paper presents a methodological framework designed for the event-based evaluation of short-range hydrometeorological ensemble forecasts, in the specific context of an intense flash-flood event characterized by high spatiotemporal variability. The proposed evaluation adopts the point of view of end users in charge of the organization of evacuations and rescue operations at a regional scale. Therefore, the local exceedance of discharge thresholds should be anticipated in time and accurately localized. A step-by-step approach is proposed, including first an evaluation of the rainfall forecasts. This first step helps us to define appropriate spatial and temporal scales for the evaluation of flood forecasts. The anticipation of the flood rising limb (discharge thresholds) is then analyzed at a large number of ungauged sub-catchments using simulated flows and zero-future rainfall forecasts as references. Based on this second step, several gauged sub-catchments are selected, at which a detailed evaluation of the forecast hydrographs is finally achieved.</p> <p align="justify">This methodology is tested and illustrated for the October 2018 flash flood which affected part of the Aude River basin (southeastern France). Three ensemble rainfall nowcasting research products recently proposed by Météo-France are evaluated and compared. The results show that, provided that the larger ensemble percentiles are considered (75th percentile for instance), these products correctly retrieve the area where the larger rainfall accumulations were observed but have a tendency to overestimate its spatial extent. The hydrological evaluation indicates that the discharge threshold exceedances are better localized and anticipated if compared to a naive zero-future rainfall scenario but at the price of a significant increase in false alarms. Some differences in the performances between the three ensemble rainfall forecast products are also identified. Finally, even if the evaluation of ensemble hydrometeorological forecasts based on a low number of documented flood events remains challenging due to the limited statistical representation of the available data, the evaluation framework proposed herein should contribute to draw first conclusions about the usefulness of newly developed rainfall forecast ensembles for flash-flood forecasting purpose and about their limits and possible improvements.</p>
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