Towards flash-flood prediction in the dry Dead Sea region utilizing radar rainfall information

Efrat Morin*, Yael Jacoby, Shilo Navon, Erez Bet-Halachmi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Flash-flood warning models can save lives and protect various kinds of infrastructure. In dry climate regions, rainfall is highly variable and can be of high-intensity. Since rain gauge networks in such areas are sparse, rainfall information derived from weather radar systems can provide useful input for flash-flood models. This paper presents a flash-flood warning model which utilizes radar rainfall data and applies it to two catchments that drain into the dry Dead Sea region. Radar-based quantitative precipitation estimates (QPEs) were derived using a rain gauge adjustment approach, either on a daily basis (allowing the adjustment factor to change over time, assuming available real-time gauge data) or using a constant factor value (derived from rain gauge data) over the entire period of the analysis. The QPEs served as input for a continuous hydrological model that represents the main hydrological processes in the region, namely infiltration, flow routing and transmission losses. The infiltration function is applied in a distributed mode while the routing and transmission loss functions are applied in a lumped mode. Model parameters were found by calibration based on the 5 years of data for one of the catchments. Validation was performed for a subsequent 5-year period for the same catchment and then for an entire 10-year record for the second catchment. The probability of detection and false alarm rates for the validation cases were reasonable. Probabilistic flash-flood prediction is presented applying Monte Carlo simulations with an uncertainty range for the QPEs and model parameters. With low probability thresholds, one can maintain more than 70% detection with no more than 30% false alarms. The study demonstrates that a flash-flood warning model is feasible for catchments in the area studied.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1066-1076
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Radar data were provided by E.M.S. Mekorot, rain gauge data by the Israel Meteorological Service and flow data by the Israel Hydrological Service. Funds for the project were provided by the Israel Ministry of Science and Technology. Rainfall frequency analysis was performed using a software developed as part of the Regional Rainfall-Intensity Project. The authors thank Simon Berkowicz and Gila Haimovic for assistance in editing the manuscript. The thorough reviews of the three anonymous reviewers significantly contributed to the quality of the paper.


  • Dead Sea
  • Dry climate
  • Flash floods
  • Hydrological model
  • Weather radar


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