ESRL Meets with CA Govt. Leaders About Water Supply & Flood Control Issues

March 10, 2008

NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory researchers Dr. Marty Ralph and Dr. Allen White were requested by Congressional and State leaders in California to inform them about NOAAÕs Hydrometerological Testbed (HMT) project and the possible use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, with respect to how they address the serious flooding and water supply issues in their state. Presentations were made to the District Offices of Congresswoman Eshoo in Palo Alto and Congresswoman Matsui in Sacramento, and to California Lt. Governor Garamendi. All parties recognized that water supply and flood control are leading issues in California and were pleased to learn that NOAA Research is on the forefront of these issues through HMT. For example, the role that atmospheric rivers play in generating flooding was of particular interest. They were also excited to learn that NOAAÕs unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) program will have a Pacific Testbed that will explore their use for early detection and monitoring of Pacific storms to improve flood forecasting and water resource management. Ultimately, these briefings led to a call by the Lt. Governor for a coordinated water resource management white paper to be submitted by NOAA, the University of California, and the California Department of Water Resources to the Lt. Governor's office by April 5th, and invitations for NOAA staff to meet with Rep. EshooÕs and Rep. MatsuiÕs offices in Washington D.C. the week of March 10th.

HMT is a national strategy that is implemented regionally with the objective of enhancing and accelerating weather research into operations. The pilot implementation of HMT was centered on the Russian River north of San Francisco, CA, and resulted in pioneering research on the role of atmospheric rivers in creating floods. It also documented serious gaps in NEXRAD radar coverage over flood-prone areas of Napa and Sonoma counties, which led local groups to support the acquisition and deployment of a new permanent radar for their area. This radar data is also being made available to NOAA/NWS in real time. HMT combines state-of-the-art observing systems and numerical modeling to develop decision support tools for extreme precipitation that can be transitioned into forecast operations in the NWS.

Water is one of seven priority areas in NOAA and one of four priority areas of NOAAÕs regional collaboration teams. Balancing water supply and flood control is the water managerÕs dilemma. In order to improve reservoir management, several federal and local water management agencies in California are exploring the use of forecast-based or forecast- coordinated operations. This strategy will allow reservoir operators to make water release decisions based on forecasts, rather than waiting to see how much precipitation falls on the ground during a storm. NOAA's research to improve forecast lead time through HMT could help save lives and property in addition to billions of dollars in property damage and lost water revenues.

Contact: Marty Ralph More Information: