Characteristics of the extreme rainfall event and consequent flash floods in W Slovenia in September 2007
During a weather front that passed over large parts of Slovenia on 18.9.2007, extreme rainfall events were triggered causing several severe flash floods with six casualties. Out of 210 municipalities in Slovenia, 60 were reporting flood damages, and the total economic flood damage was later estimated at close to 200 million Euro; highest damage was claimed by Železniki municipality in NW Slovenia. The main purpose of the study presented in this paper was to put together available meteorological and hydrological data in order to get better insight into temporal and spatial dynamics and variability of the flash flood event along the Selška Sora River flowing through the town of Železniki. The weather forecast by the Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia (ARSO) lead to early warning of floodings but has underestimated rainfall amounts by a factor of 2. Also meteorological radar underestimated ground rainfall as much as by 50%. During that day, in many rainfall gauging stations operated by ARSO in the area under investigation, extreme rainfall amounts were measured, e.g. 303 mm in 24 h or 157 mm in 2 h. Some of the measured rainfall amounts were the highest registered amounts in Slovenia so far. Statistical analysis using Gumble distribution was performed and rainfall return periods were estimated. When assessing rainfall return periods, a question of the sampling error as a consequence of short rainfall records used was raised. Furthermore, measured rainfall data were used to reconstruct hydrographs on selected water stations along the Selška Sora River. The cumulative areal precipitation for the Selška Sora River catchment upstream of Železniki amounted to 219 mm, while the modeled effective precipitation used to simulate the hydrograph peak was only 57 mm. The modeled direct runoff coefficient therefore amounts to 0.26. Surprisingly low value is mainly caused by the applied unit hydrograph method that seeks to meet the peak discharge rather than hydrograph volume. However, the spatial distribution of the rainfall in the area was highly variable and present spatial positioning of rain gauges is obviously inadequate for proper representation of the actual spatial amount of rainfall. The study confirmed that post-flood investigation should focus on discharges and hydrological response of the catchment rather than simply analyzing statistical characteristics of rainfall.