KUSA - The power of water can be found all across the country, feeding rivers and streams and sometimes destroying anything in its path.
“The forecasts, as we know, aren’t always perfect,” said David Gochis, a scientist at NCAR
However, those forecasts are about to get better when it comes to flooding. Gochis works at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and is part of a team that’s put together a new forecast model for NOAA that could change the way we predict floods across the country.
“This is capability that they haven’t really had up until this point in time,” he said.
The way the weather service forecasts floods now, happens based on information from specific sites -- usually on major rivers or waterways. That doesn’t always help predict what could happen along smaller waterways, as it did in Colorado in 2013.
“It was only about 15 or 16 stations they were forecasting streamflow at across the entire Front Range area and that event spread over many counties, over many canyons and river systems and out onto the Plains,” Gochis said. “And what happened, what we saw, was that the forecasters weren’t able to keep up with the event."
This new computer modeling, though, is able to not just forecast what will happen at those measuring stations, but also take into account the entire landscape: millions of miles of waterways across the whole country.
“This new modeling system, because it’s attempting to model water across the landscape, across the entire landscape and not just an original set of locations, will allow us to have a more complete picture of where that water is, where that water is moving and when it will arrive at certain critical locations,” Gochis said.
It took scientists more than 10 years to develop this new flood forecasting model, which they officially started using this week.