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The FLASH project: improving the tools for flash flood monitoring and prediction across the United States

Gourley, Jonathan J.; Flamig, Zachary L.; Vergara, Humberto; Kirstetter, Pierre-Emmanuel; Clark, Robert A.; Argyle, Elizabeth; Arthur, Ami; Martinaitis, Steven; Terti, Galateia; Erlingis, Jessica M.; Hong, Yang; Howard, Kenneth W.


Jonathan J. Gourley

Zachary L. Flamig

Humberto Vergara

Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter

Robert A. Clark

Elizabeth Argyle

Ami Arthur

Steven Martinaitis

Galateia Terti

Jessica M. Erlingis

Yang Hong

Kenneth W. Howard


This study introduces the Flooded Locations and Simulated Hydrographs (FLASH) project. FLASH is the first system to generate a suite of hydrometeorological products at flash flood scale in real-time across the conterminous United States, including rainfall average recurrence intervals, ratios of rainfall to flash flood guidance, and distributed hydrologic model–based discharge forecasts. The key aspects of the system are 1) precipitation forcing from the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)’s Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system, 2) a computationally efficient distributed hydrologic modeling framework with sufficient representation of physical processes for flood prediction, 3) capability to provide forecasts at all grid points covered by radars without the requirement of model calibration, and 4) an open-access development platform, product display, and verification system for testing new ideas in a real-time demonstration environment and for fostering collaborations.

This study assesses the FLASH system’s ability to accurately simulate unit peak discharges over a 7-yr period in 1,643 unregulated gauged basins. The evaluation indicates that FLASH’s unit peak discharges had a linear and rank correlation of 0.64 and 0.79, respectively, and that the timing of the peak discharges has errors less than 2 h. The critical success index with FLASH was 0.38 for flood events that exceeded action stage. FLASH performance is demonstrated and evaluated for case studies, including the 2013 deadly flash flood case in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the 2015 event in Houston, Texas—both of which occurred on Memorial Day weekends.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 7, 2017
Journal Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Electronic ISSN 0003-0007
Publisher American Meteorological Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 98
Issue 2
APA6 Citation Gourley, J. J., Flamig, Z. L., Vergara, H., Kirstetter, P., Clark, R. A., Argyle, E., …Howard, K. W. (2017). The FLASH project: improving the tools for flash flood monitoring and prediction across the United States. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 98(2), doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00247.1
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Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf
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