National Weather Service Operational River Forecasting in a UNIX Environment

by Donna Page, Hydrologic Research Lab, Silver Spring, United States,
George F. Smith, Hydrologic Research Lab, Silver Spring, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering Hydrology


The mission of the National Weather Service (NWS) includes providing river and flood forecasts and warnings for protection of life and property, and providing basic hydrologic forecast information for environmental and economic well being. The NWS Office of Hydrology (OH) supports this mission through the design, development, testing, implementation, and support of a physically-based hydrologic forecasting system - the National Weather Service River Forecast System (NWSRFS). This system is used to provide operational river and flood forecasts at over 3000 locations throughout the U.S. on a daily basis. In general, a river forecast system (or almost any system) can be viewed as having major components of (1) forces that drive the system, or data, (2) a mechanism to analyze the driving forces, or processing, (3) the modelling of the physical laws of motion, and (4) products of the system, or guidance information output for decision making. This paper will concentrate on how these components of the NWSRFS have been modified to a graphical, interactive form on computationally powerful, UNIX-based scientific workstations as part of an ongoing OH project tied to NWS modernization.

Subject Headings: Forecasting | Rivers and streams | Floods | River systems | Hydrologic properties | Hydrology | Information systems | Disaster warning systems

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