Seamless probabilistic multi-source forecasting of heavy rainfall hazards for European flood awareness

Losses due to the hazards associated with heavy rainfall and storms are the largest and growing social risk associated with natural phenomena. The capability to monitor and predict such events is crucial for preparedness and decision making in emergency operations. The objective of this project was to develop improved tools for assessing and forecasting the hazards and risks induced by intense rainfall and severe storms (e.g. flash floods, urban floods, landslides) in the scales from individual towns to pan-European. This was achieved by combining multi-instrument pan-European precipitation observations together with state of the art forecasting methods. The output of the project was a set of tools and products for seamless probabilistic high-resolution hazard and risk forecasting for lead times from 15 minutes to 5 days.

The output was disseminated by integrating the methods into the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) platform, which is the reference system for flood monitoring and forecasting used by the emergency management and response agents. In this way, the project provided highly useful real-time tools to support decision making in emergency operations. Using the EFAS and SMUFF platforms, the products were adjusted to the end-user needs and procedures among the civil protection operators. The EFAS integration was ensured availability of the products beyond the duration of the project (e.g at ERCC).

There were three beneficiaries in the project: ECMWF, UPC and ESPL, together with the Applicant FMI. The project additionally benefited civil protection agencies and hydrometeorological institutes in Finland and Catalonia and in Europe (including ECMWF member states and EFAS partners). Stakeholders Vaisala and EUMETSAT provided complementing rainfall estimation data for those parts of Europe that are not covered by OPERA. The project was an extension to the former projects HAREN, EDHIT and ERICHA.