Heavy rainfall episodes over Liguria in autumn 2011: numerical forecasting experiments
The Liguria coastal region in Italy was affected by two heavy rainfall episodes and subsequent severe flooding that occurred at the end of October and the beginning of November 2011. In both cases, the very large accumulated precipitation maxima were associated with intense and quasi-stationary convective systems that developed near the coast, both related to orographic lift and similar low-level mesoscale flow patterns over the Ligurian Sea, giving rise to pronounced convergence lines.
This study aims at analysing the main dynamical processes responsible for the onset, lifecycle, intensity and localisation/propagation of the precipitating systems, using the ISAC convection-permitting model MOLOCH applied at different spatial resolutions and comparing model output fields with available observations. The ability of the model in quantitative precipitation forecasting (QPF) is tested with respect to initial conditions and model horizontal resolution. Although precipitation maxima remain underestimated in the model experiments, it is shown that errors in QPF in both amount and position tend to decrease with increasing grid resolution.
It is shown that model accuracy in forecasting rainfall amounts and localisation of the precipitating systems critically depends on the ability to represent the cold air outflow from the Po Valley to the Ligurian Sea, which determines the position and intensity of the mesoscale convergence lines over the sea. Such convergence lines controls, together with the lifting produced by the Apennines chain surrounding the coast, the onset of the severe convection.