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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-82
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-82
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 02 Apr 2019

Research article | 02 Apr 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

A Comprehensive Evaluation of the National Water Model (NWM) – Height Above Nearest Drainage (HAND) Flood Mapping Methodology

J. Michael Johnson1, Dinuke Munasinghe2, Damilola Eyelade1, and Sagy Cohen2 J. Michael Johnson et al.
  • 1University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, 93106, USA
  • 2University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

Abstract. Flood maps are needed for emergency response, research, and planning. The Height Above Nearest Drainage (HAND) technique is a low-complexity, terrain-based approach for inundation mapping from elevation, discharge-height relationship, and streamflow data. The recent operational capacities of the NOAA National Water Model (NWM) and pre-processed HAND products from the University of Texas offer an operational framework for real-time and forecast flood mapping across the United States. This paper offers the first detailed evaluation of the coupled NWM-HAND approach by comparing NWM-HAND simulations to a database of remotely sensed flood maps. These comparisons are made both quantitatively and through a detailed evaluation of selected results. The results show that NWM-HAND performs well in the majority of cases with 70 % of the calculated flood maps yielding an agreement of 80 % or better with the remote sensing observations. Persistent inaccuracies occur in lower-order reaches, regions of low relief, and when the NWM misses substantially either in magnitude or timing.

J. Michael Johnson et al.
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J. Michael Johnson et al.
Model code and software

Flood Mapping – An R package for flood forecasting via the National Water Model J. M. Johnson https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2588009

J. Michael Johnson et al.
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Short summary
The coupled National Water Model (NWM) – Height Above Nearest Drainage flood mapping methodology provides the basis for operational flood forecasting across the continental United States. This paper evaluates how the method performs for 30 case studies using a historic archive of flood extents and a retrospective run of the NWM. We provide a summary of the results and discuss where the method is performing reliably; the general reasons for poor forecasts; and how the method might be improved.
The coupled National Water Model (NWM) – Height Above Nearest Drainage flood mapping methodology...
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