Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-415
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-415
05 Mar 2024
 | 05 Mar 2024

Precursors and pathways: Dynamically informed extreme event forecasting demonstrated on the historic Emilia-Romagna 2023 flood

Joshua Dorrington, Marta Wenta, Federico Grazzini, Linus Magnusson, Frederic Vitart, and Christian Grams

Abstract. The ever-increasing complexity and data volumes of numerical weather prediction demands innovations in the analysis and synthesis of operational forecast data. Here we show how dynamical thinking can offer directly applicable forecast information, taking as a case study the extreme north Italian flooding of May 2023. We compare this event with historical north Italian rainfall events – in order to determine a) why it was so extreme, b) how well it was predicted, and c) how we may improve our predictions of such extremes. Lagrangian analysis shows, in line with previous work, that extreme rainfall in Italy can be caused by moist air masses originating from the North Atlantic, North Africa, and, to a lesser extent, Eastern Europe, with compounding moisture contributions from all three regions driving the May 2023 event. We identify the large-scale precursors of typical north Italian rainfall extremes based on geopotential height and integrated vapour transport fields. We show in ECMWF operational forecasts that a precursor perspective was able to identify the growing possibility of the Emilia-Romagna extreme event eight days beforehand – four days earlier than the direct precipitation forecast. Such dynamical precursors prove well-suited for identifying and interpreting predictability barriers, and could help build forecaster's understanding of unfolding extreme scenarios in the medium-range. We close by discussing the broader implications and operational potential of dynamically-rooted metrics for understanding and predicting extreme events, both in retrospect and in real-time.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Joshua Dorrington, Marta Wenta, Federico Grazzini, Linus Magnusson, Frederic Vitart, and Christian Grams

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-415', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Mar 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Joshua Dorrington, 03 May 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-415', Anonymous Referee #2, 10 Apr 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Joshua Dorrington, 03 May 2024

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-415', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Mar 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Joshua Dorrington, 03 May 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-415', Anonymous Referee #2, 10 Apr 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Joshua Dorrington, 03 May 2024
Joshua Dorrington, Marta Wenta, Federico Grazzini, Linus Magnusson, Frederic Vitart, and Christian Grams
Joshua Dorrington, Marta Wenta, Federico Grazzini, Linus Magnusson, Frederic Vitart, and Christian Grams

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The paper provides a detailed analysis of the causes and predictability of the May 2023 floods in Emiglia Romagna (Italy), which received considerable media coverage due to the extensive damage and loss of life associated.
Short summary
Extreme rainfall is the leading weather-related source of damages in Europe, but is still difficult to predict on long time scales. A recent example of this were the devastating floods in the Italian region of Emiglia Romagna in May 2023. We present perspectives based on large-scale dynamical information that allow us to better understand and predict such events.