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CR 21:239-258 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/cr021239

Weather, climate, and hydrologic forecasting for the US Southwest: a survey

Holly C. Hartmann*, Roger Bales, Soroosh Sorooshian

Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA

ABSTRACT: As part of a regional integrated assessment of climate vulnerability, a survey was conducted from June 1998 to May 2000 of weather, climate, and hydrologic forecasts with coverage of the US Southwest and an emphasis on the Colorado River Basin. The survey addresses the types of forecasts that were issued, the organizations that provided them, and techniques used in their generation. It reflects discussions with key personnel from organizations involved in producing or issuing forecasts, providing data for making forecasts, or serving as a link for communicating forecasts. During the survey period, users faced a complex and constantly changing mix of forecast products available from a variety of sources. The abundance of forecasts was not matched in the provision of corresponding interpretive materials, documentation about how the forecasts were generated, or reviews of past performance. Potential existed for confusing experimental and research products with others that had undergone a thorough review process, including official products issued by the National Weather Service. Contrasts between the state of meteorologic and hydrologic forecasting were notable, especially in the former¹s greater operational flexibility and more rapid incorporation of new observations and research products. Greater attention should be given to forecast content and communication, including visualization, expression of probabilistic forecasts and presentation of ancillary information. Regional climate models and use of climate forecasts in water supply forecasting offer rapid improvements in predictive capabilities for the Southwest. Forecasts and production details should be archived, and publicly available forecasts should be accompanied by performance evaluations that are relevant to users.

KEY WORDS: Weather forecasts · Climate forecasts · Hydrologic forecasts · US Southwest · Hydro-meteorology · Hydroclimatology

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