The challenge of predicting flash floods from thunderstorm rainfall

Hosin Gupta, Soroosh Sorooshian, Xiaogang Gao, Bisher Imam, Kuo Lin Hsu, Luis Bastidas, Jailun Li, Shayesteh Mahani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A major characteristic of the hydrometeorology of semi-arid regions is the occurrence of intense thunderstorms that develop very rapidly and cause severe flooding. In summer, monsoon air mass is often of subtropical origin and is characterized by convective instability. The existing observational network has major deficiencies for those regions in providing information that is important to run-off generation. Further, because of the complex interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere, mesoscale atmospheric models are currently able to reproduce only general features of the initiation and development of convective systems. In our research, several interrelated components including the use of satellite data to monitor precipitation, data assimilation of a mesoscale regional atmospheric model, modification of the land component of the mesoscale model to better represent the semi-arid region surface processes that control run-off generation, and the use of ensemble forecasting techniques to improve forecasts of precipitation and run-off potential are investigated. This presentation discusses our ongoing research in this area; preliminary results including an investigation related to the unprecedented flash floods that occurred across the Las Vegas valley (Nevada, USA) in July of 1999 are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1363-1371
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1796
StatePublished - Jul 15 2002


  • Flash flood
  • Four-dimensional data assimilation
  • Land-surface model
  • Mesoscale atmospheric model
  • Monsoon season
  • Quantitative precipitation forecasting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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