Simulation of flash-flood-producing storm events in Saudi Arabia using the Weather Research and Forecasting model.

Deng, L., M. McCabe, G. Stenchikov, J.P. Evans and P. Kucera
Journal of Hydrometeorology, 16(2), 615-630, doi: 10.1175/JHM-D-14-0126.1, 2015.


The challenges of monitoring and forecasting flash-flood-producing storm events in data-sparse and arid regions are explored using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model (version 3.5) in conjunction with a range of available satellite, in situ, and reanalysis data. Here, we focus on characterizing the initial synoptic features and examining the impact of model parameterization and resolution on the reproduction of a number of flood-producing rainfall events that occurred over the western Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. Analysis from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) interim reanalysis (ERA-Interim) data suggests that mesoscale convective systems associated with strong moisture convergence ahead of a trough were the major initial features for the occurrence of these intense rain events. The WRF Model was able to simulate the heavy rainfall, with driving convective processes well characterized by a high-resolution cloud-resolving model. The use of higher (1 km vs 5 km) resolution along the Jeddah coastline favors the simulation of local convective systems and adds value to the simulation of heavy rainfall, especially for deep-convection-related extreme values. At the 5-km resolution, corresponding to an intermediate study domain, simulation without a cumulus scheme led to the formation of deeper convective systems and enhanced rainfall around Jeddah, illustrating the need for careful model scheme selection in this transition resolution. In analysis of multiple nested WRF simulations (25, 5, and 1 km), localized volume and intensity of heavy rainfall together with the duration of rainstorms within the Jeddah catchment area were captured reasonably well, although there was evidence of some displacements of rainstorm events.

Key Figure

Fig. 6. Hourly time evolution of rainstorms (mm) for case 1 from (left) Taif radar data and (right) WRF D3. The white outline represents downtown Jeddah.

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