EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Evaluation of a WRF model in forecasting extreme rainfall in the urban data-scarce coastal city of Alexandria, Egypt

Adele Young1,2, Biswa Bhattacharya1, Emma Daniels3, and Chris Zevenbergen1,2
Adele Young et al.
  • 1IHE-Delft, Water Science and Engineering, Delft, Netherlands (
  • 2Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, 2628 CN Delft, The Netherlands
  • 3Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, 3731 GA, Netherlands

High-resolution precipitation models are essential to forecast urban pluvial floods. Global Numerical Weather Prediction Models (NWPs) are considered too coarse to accurately forecast flooding at the city scale. High-resolution radar nowcasting can be either unavailable or insufficient to forecast at the required lead-times.  Downscaling models are used to increase the resolution and extend forecast by several days when initialised with global NWPs. However, resolving weather processes at smaller spatial scales and sub-daily temporal resolutions has its challenges and does not necessarily result in more accurate forecast but instead only increase the computational requirements. Additionally, in ungauged regions, forecast verification is a challenge as in-situ measurements and radar estimates remain scarce or non-existent. This research evaluates the ability of a dynamically downscaled WRF model to capture the spatial and temporal variability of rainfall suitable for an urban drainage flood forecast model and evaluated against IMERG Global Precipitation Model (GPM) Satellite Precipitation Products (SPPs).
 A WRF model was set-up with one-way nesting, three nested domains at horizontal grid resolutions 10km, 3.33km and 1km, a 1hourly temporal output, a spin-up time of 12 hours and evaluated at different lead times up to 48 hrs. The analysis was performed for three (3)  winter frontal systems during the period 2015-2019 in the highly urbanised coastal Mediterranean city of Alexandria in Egypt which experiences floods from extreme precipitation. The Global Forecast System (GFS), and European Centre for Medium Range (ECMWF) forecast were used as initial and lateral boundary conditions. 
Initial results indicate the WRF models could capture extreme rainfall for all events. There is some agreement with the IMERG data and the model correctly forecasted a decrease in rainfall as the systems transition from coastal to inland areas. In general, GFS and ECMWF initialised WRF models overestimated rainfall estimates compared to IMERG data. Differences in GFS and ECMWF initialised models (multi-model approach) highlight the sensitivity of models to initial and boundary conditions and emphasises the need for post-processing and data assimilation when possible to generate accurate small-scale features. A study such as this provides knowledge for understanding, future applications and limitations of using Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts (QPFs) in urban drainage models. Additionally, the potential use of IMERG GPM to verify spatial and temporal variability of forecast in ungauged and data-scarce regions. Future analysis will evaluate the skill of ensembles precipitation systems in characterising forecast uncertainty in such applications. 

How to cite: Young, A., Bhattacharya, B., Daniels, E., and Zevenbergen, C.: Evaluation of a WRF model in forecasting extreme rainfall in the urban data-scarce coastal city of Alexandria, Egypt, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9241,, 2021.