The Soverato flood in Southern Italy: performance of global and limited-area ensemble forecasts
Abstract. The predictability of the flood event affecting Soverato (Southern Italy) in September 2000 is investigated by considering three different configurations of ECMWF ensemble: the operational Ensemble Prediction System (EPS), the targeted EPS and a high-resolution version of EPS. For each configuration, three successive runs of ECMWF ensemble with the same verification time are grouped together so as to generate a highly-populated "super-ensemble". Then, five members are selected from the super-ensemble and used to provide initial and boundary conditions for the integrations with a limited-area model, whose runs generate a Limited-area Ensemble Prediction System (LEPS). The relative impact of targeting the initial perturbations against increasing the horizontal resolution is assessed for the global ensembles as well as for the properties transferred to LEPS integrations, the attention being focussed on the probabilistic prediction of rainfall over a localised area. At the 108, 84 and 60- hour forecast ranges, the overall performance of the global ensembles is not particularly accurate and the best results are obtained by the high-resolution version of EPS. The LEPS performance is very satisfactory in all configurations and the rainfall maps show probability peaks in the correct regions. LEPS products would have been of great assistance to issue flood risk alerts on the basis of limited-area ensemble forecasts. For the 60-hour forecast range, the sensitivity of the results to the LEPS ensemble size is discussed by comparing a 5-member against a 51-member LEPS, where the limited-area model is nested on all EPS members. Little sensitivity is found as concerns the detection of the regions most likely affected by heavy precipitation, the probability peaks being approximately the same in both configurations.