Hydrometeorological evaluation of two nowcasting systems for Mediterranean heavy precipitation events with operational considerations

Lovat, Alexane ; Vincendon, Béatrice ; Ducrocq, Véronique

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<p align=justify>Heavy precipitation events and subsequent flash floods regularly affect the Mediterranean coastal regions. In these situations, forecasting rainfall and river discharges is crucial especially up to 6 h, which is a relevant lead time for emergency services in times of crisis. The present study investigates the hydrometeorological skills of two new nowcasting systems: a numerical weather model AROME-NWC and a nowcasting system blending numerical weather prediction and extrapolation of radar estimation called PIAF. Their performance is assessed for 10 past heavy precipitation events that occurred in southeastern France. Precipitation forecasts are evaluated at a 15- min time resolution and the availability times of forecasts, based on the operational Météo-France suites, are taken into account when performing the evaluation. Rainfall observations and forecasts were first compared using a point-to-point approach. Then the evaluation was conducted from an hydrological point of view, by comparing observed and forecast precipitation over watersheds affected by floods. In general, the results led to the same conclusions for both evaluations. On the very first lead times, up to 1 h 15 min and 1 h 30 min of forecast, the performance of PIAF was higher than AROME-NWC. For longer lead times (up to 3 h) their performances were generally equivalent. An assessment of river discharges simulated with the ISBA-TOP coupled system, which is dedicated to Mediterranean flash flood simulations and driven by AROME-NWC and PIAF rainfall forecasts, was also performed on two exceptional past flash flood events. The results obtained for these two events show that using AROME-NWC or PIAF rainfall forecasts is promising for flash flood forecasting in terms of peak intensity, timing, and first wave of discharge, with an anticipation of these phenomena that can reach several hours.</p>
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