Leveraging multi-model season-ahead streamflow forecasts to trigger advanced flood preparedness in Peru

Keating, Colin; Lee, Donghoon; Bazo, Juan; Block, Paul

Disaster planning has historically allocated minimal effort and finances toward advanced preparedness; however, evidence supports reduced vulnerability to flood events, saving lives and money, through appropriate early actions. Among other requirements, effective early action systems necessitate the availability of high-quality forecasts to inform decision making. In this study, we evaluate the ability of statistical and physically based season-ahead prediction models to appropriately trigger flood early preparedness actions based on a 75 % or greater probability of surpassing the 80th percentile of historical seasonal streamflow for the flood-prone Marañón River and Piura River in Peru. The statistical prediction model, developed in this work, leverages the asymmetric relationship between seasonal streamflow and the ENSO phenomenon. Additionally, a multi-model (least-squares combination) is also evaluated against current operational practices. The statistical prediction demonstrates superior performance compared to the physically based model for the Marañón River by correctly triggering preparedness actions in three out of four historical occasions, while both the statistical and multi-model predictions capture all four historical events when the required threshold exceedance probability is reduced to 50 %, with only one false alarm. For the Piura River, the statistical model proves superior to all other approaches, correctly triggering 28 % more often in the hindcast period. Continued efforts should focus on applying this season-ahead prediction framework to additional flood-prone locations where early actions may be warranted and current forecast capacity is limited.

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Keating, Colin / Lee, Donghoon / Bazo, Juan / et al: Leveraging multi-model season-ahead streamflow forecasts to trigger advanced flood preparedness in Peru. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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