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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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Minnesota State University, Mankato
College of Science Engineering, and Technology
Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering

PI: Deborah K. Nykanen

Improving Flood Forecasting in the Driftless Area of the Midwest

The Driftless Area of southeast Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin, northwest Illinois, and northeast Iowa has been plagued by record-breaking floods in the past decade, including both flash floods and multi-day events. Over the next year, this researcher will be collaborating with the North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC) to improve flood forecasting in the Driftless Area. This research project will focus on scaling analysis of rainfall over the region, characterization of flood response time scales for key problematic rivers, and experimentation with model modifications to improve flood forecast skill. The National Weather Service (NWS) River Forecast Centers (RFCs) have adopted and recently rolled out the Flood Early Warning System (FEWS) - Community Hydrologic Prediction System (CHPS) as their operational river forecast model. As an integral part of this project, the FEWS-CHPS model with the NCRFC configuration is being installed within our group account at MSI. Exploring possible model modifications to improve both river and flash flood forecasting on several problematic rivers in the Driftless Area will be a primary focus for the upcoming year.