Probabilistic Streamflow Forecasts to Advance Flood Preparedness: Statistical Applications and User Perspectives
Keating, Colin P.
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Disaster planning has historically allocated minimal effort and finances toward advanced preparedness; however, evidence supports reduced vulnerability to flood events through appropriate early actions, saving lives and money. Among other requirements, effective early action systems necessitate the availability of high-quality forecasts to inform decision making. Chapter 2 of this work evaluates the ability of statistical and physically based season-ahead prediction models to appropriately trigger flood early preparedness actions for the flood-prone Marañón River and Piura River in Peru. A tailored statistical streamflow forecast developed in this work demonstrates superior performance to an operational forecast at both study locations. Continued efforts should focus on applying this season-ahead prediction framework to additional flood-prone locations where early actions may be warranted and current forecast capacity is limited. Chapter 3 leverages an online questionnaire to explore perceptions of probabilistic river forecasts among county-level emergency managers in the Upper Midwest, specifically focusing on factors affecting use of probabilistic river forecasts for flood preparedness. Forecast use is found to be statistically significantly related to emergency management budget, availability of forecast locations, trainings, frequency of flood preparedness, perceived degree of flood preparedness, perceived value of forecasts, and forecast familiarity. Additionally, a multiple logistic regression model predicts 68% of the variance in forecast use, identifying significant positive associations with forecast familiarity and full-time employment status and a negative association with communication with forecast providers. While results suggest forecasts provide value to emergency managers, many respondents indicate further improvements are possible. Further investigation into the forecast use-flood preparedness relationship is warranted.