August 16, 2016 – NOAA and its partners have developed a new forecasting tool to simulate how water moves throughout the nation’s rivers and streams, paving the way for the biggest improvement in flood forecasting the country has ever seen.
NOAA took a giant leap forward in its ability to forecast the flow of rivers and streams throughout the entire continental United States with the launch of the new high-resolution National Water Model (NWM).
The NWM represents NOAA’s first foray into high performance computing for water prediction and will expand NOAA’s current water quantity forecasts, at approximately 4000 U.S. Geological Survey stream gage sites across the country, to forecasts of flow and other parameters for 2.7 million stream reaches, providing predictive water information for many locations where none previously existed.
The development and implementation of the NWM is the result of strong collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences, Inc., the National Science Foundation, and Federal Integrated Water Resources Science and Services partners.
The new NWM improves the National Weather Service’s ability to deliver impact-based decision support services nationwide by providing “street level” water forecasts and warnings, and will serve as the foundation for additional private sector water services.
The model also improves NOAA’s ability to meet the needs of its stakeholders — such as emergency managers, reservoir operators, first responders, recreationists, farmers, barge operators, and ecosystem and floodplain managers — with more accurate, detailed, frequent and expanded water information.