Application of a medium-range global hydrologic probabilistic forecast scheme to the Ohio River basin

Nathalie Voisin, Florian Pappenberger, Dennis P. Lettenmaier*, Roberto Buizza, John C. Schaake

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


A 10-day globally applicable flood prediction scheme was evaluated using the Ohio River basin as a test site for the period 2003-07. The Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrology model was initialized with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) analysis temperatures and winds, and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) precipitation up to the day of forecast. In forecast mode, the VIC model was then forced with a calibrated and statistically downscaled ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) 10-day ensemble forecast. A parallel setup was used where ECMWF EPS forecasts were interpolated to the spatial scale of the hydrology model. Each set of forecasts was extended by 5 days using monthlymean climatological variables and zero precipitation in order to account for the effects of the initial conditions. The 15-day spatially distributed ensemble runoff forecasts were then routed to four locations in the basin, each with different drainage areas. Surrogates for observed daily runoff and flow were provided by the reference run, specifically VIC simulation forced with ECMWF analysis fields and TMPA precipitation fields. The hydrologic prediction scheme using the calibrated and downscaled ECMWF EPS forecasts was shown to be more accurate and reliable than interpolated forecasts for both daily distributed runoff forecasts and daily flow forecasts. The initial and antecedent conditions dominated the flow forecasts for lead times shorter than the time of concentration depending on the flow forecast amounts and the drainage area sizes. The flood prediction scheme had useful skill for the 10 following days at all sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-446
Number of pages22
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011


  • Ensembles
  • Flood events
  • Forecast verification
  • Forecasting
  • Hydrologic models
  • Land surface model


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