A New Method for Predicting Flash Floods

Achievement date: 

A research team at the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC), has partnered with the National Weather Service (NWS) to overhaul the Hydrology Laboratory Research Distributed Hydrologic Model (HLRDHM). The NWS uses this model to determine if a flood watch or warning should be issued.


This collaboration represents the successful transfer of technology developed through CASA’s research into practice. The new version of HLRDHM significantly increases resolution. This method greatly increases the accuracy and precision of flood predictions. This work can potentially affect any American living in an area at risk of flooding. This project was funded through NSF’s Partnerships for Innovation: Accelerating Innovation Research (AIR) program, which is specifically designed to bring academic research to market.


CASA’s weather systems leverage the ability of their radars to provide data that are five to ten times higher in resolution than current industry standards. Hydrologic models like HLRDHM must account for the amount of rainfall and the ground’s moisture content. They must also consider how much water will absorb into the ground, run off, and evaporate. For flash floods, calculating runoff is especially important.