High resolution numerical study of the Algiers 2001 flash flood: sensitivity to the upper-level potential vorticity anomaly
From 9 to 11 November 2001, intense cyclogenesis affected the northern coasts of Africa and more particularly the densely populated city of Algiers. During the morning of 10 November, more than 130 mm of precipitation was recorded at Bouzareah and resulted in mudslides which devastated the Bab-el-Oued district. This disaster caused more than 700 casualties and catastrophic damage. Like many other heavy rainstorms in the western Mediterranean, this event was associated with the presence of an upper-level trough materialized by a deep stratospheric intrusion and characterized by high potential vorticity values. In this study, the impact of this synoptic structure on the localization and intensity of the precipitation which affected Algiers is investigated using a potential vorticity (PV) inversion method coupled for the first time with the French non-hydrostatic MESO-NH model. A set of perturbed synoptic environments was designed by slightly modifying the extent and the intensity of the coherent potential vorticity structures in the operational ARPEGE analysis. It is shown that such modifications may have a strong impact on the fine-scale precipitation forecast in the Algiers region, thereby demonstrating the fundamental role played by the potential vorticity anomaly during this exceptional meteorological event.