25 Nov Seattle’s Collaboration for Rain Watch Agenda
In Seattle, frequent, severe storms stress the city’s drainage, causing flooding in the streets and sewer backups — a condition that promises to be magnified by climate change. But an innovative collaboration driven by the city’s water, sewer, and drainage agency has resulted in the Seattle Rain Watch initiative, an emergency-management and climatology tool whose purpose is to enable the city to respond to major weather events as they occur. It is a real-time weather system that provides rain accumulation totals for the past 1- to 48-hours and forecasts rain accumulation for the next hour for the Seattle metropolitan region. It uses rainfall estimates derived from radar data that are calibrated with local rain gauge networks to improve accuracy over other radar only indicated precipitation estimate products.
The forecasts are made using radar echo motion vectors over the past hour and are extrapolated outward temporally and spatially. Traditional rainfall estimates calculated by radar reflectivity are prone to a number of problems that can create incorrect rainfall accumulation estimates. Without calibration from on-the-ground rain gauges these errors can spread and intensify as successive rainfall estimates are combined to calculate accumulations over longer time-scales. Seattle’s Rain Watch program came about through the long-term commitment of Seattle Public Utilities.
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Seattle’s Collaboration for Rain Watch Agenda