Operational hydro-meteorological warning and real-time flood forecasting: the Piemonte Region case study
Abstract. The development and implementation of a real-time flood forecasting system in the context of the Piemonte Region's hydro-meteorological operational alert procedure is described. The area of interest is the Upper Po River basin (north-west Italy) of approximately 37000 km2 and its river network of about 3000 km and three big lakes. FloodWatch, a GIS-based decision support system for real-time flood forecasting, has been developed and used operationally at the Piemonte Region's Room for the Situation of Natural Hazards in Torino, Italy, since January 2000. The system is linked directly to the telemetric gauges system, uses daily quantitative precipitation and temperature forecasts issued by the Regional Meteorological Service and automatically supplies operational forecasts of water-level and discharge at about 30 locations for up to 48 hours. Strengths and limits of the system and its link with operational flood alert and management are discussed. The case study presented is the October 2000 flood event, when the north-west of Italy experienced one of the largest floods on record. Results highlight how the uncertainty linked to the use of meteorological forecasts greatly influences the quality of the hydrological forecasts. The proposed alert procedure, based on coded risk levels, can help effectively in facing forecast uncertainties.