2A.5 Communicating Probabilities for the Better Understanding of Flood Risk

Monday, 13 January 2020: 11:30 AM
253C (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Ryan S. Knutsvig, NWS, Grand Forks, ND; and A. D. Moore and A. J. Lee

Communicating Probabilities for the Better Understanding of Flood Risk

Session: Other Topics in Hydrology

Ryan Knutsvig, Andrew Moore, and Amanda Lee
National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office - Grand Forks

Spring snowmelt flooding along the Red River Valley of the North and its tributaries has significantly impacted infrastructure and daily life, especially over the last two decades. Major flooding has occurred in 48 percent of years at one location or more along the mainstem of the Red River since the catastrophic "Flood of 1997". Probabilistic flood outlooks leading up to the annual spring snowmelt flooding are created at the National Weather Service (NWS) North Central River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, MN. The NWS Grand Forks office then communicates this spring flood outlook information with partners along the Red River and its tributaries.

It has been demonstrated in previous research that probabilistic (uncertainty) information leads to more optimal decisions by decision makers (Joslyn and LeClerc, 2011 and Ramos et al., 2013). However, research in the area of probabilistic flood forecasts also indicates that a collaborative effort between the developer and end user helps create a product that will be most useful for the intended recipient (Hogan Carr et al., 2016, Morss et al., 2015 and Demeritt et al., 2010).

A process to improve the presentation of probabilistic flood outlook information for the Red River of the North was initiated at the NWS Grand Forks office in the fall of 2017. This presentation highlights the iterative process of engaging partners and incorporating their input to create an improved set of probabilistic flood outlook graphics for the 2018 and 2019 spring flood seasons, as well as plans to expand the project for the 2020 season. It is theorized that improvements to the communication of probabilistic flood information will lead to an increased understanding of flood risk and result in improved preparedness.

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