Enhanced surface water flood forecasts

Testing the feasibility of converting the latest advances in rainfall forecasting into real-time forecasts and warnings

This project brought together a range of experts and users to understand if the latest advances in rainfall forecasting and hydrological modelling could be combined to produce useful localised forecast information.

An incident response workshop was organised by iCASP to test the enhanced forecasts to see if they helped improve decision-making. Participants included scientists, practitioners and stakeholders involved with surface water flood planning and response, including representatives from local authorities, water utilities the Environment Agency and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

There is a growing threat from surface water flooding in cities, often away from the flood plain. More localised forecast information is needed by Lead Local Flood Authorities, but it must be reliable otherwise there is a risk of raising false alarms and losing the trust of communities.

When water levels in rivers start to rise, it is easier to calculate the timing and likelihood of a flood in good time. However, more generalised surface water flooding caused by intense rainfall can strike with little warning. It is difficult with current weather forecasts to pinpoint the location for heavy rainfall precisely. This project helped in a practical way to test out what the latest science can provide.

iCASP Project Team

Dr. Ben Rabb – iCASP, University of Leeds
Dr. Steven Boeing – Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS), University of Leeds
Dr. Kay Shelton – JBA Consulting
Dr. Cathryn Birch – Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS), University of Leeds

Wider Partners/Project Team

Alan Blyth – National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds
Mark Trigg – Civil Engineering, University of Leeds
Andrea Taylor – Sustainable Research Institute, University of Leeds
Rob Lamb – JBA Trust
Neil Hunter, Murray Dale & Shelley Evans – JBA Consulting
Simon Hildon & Sue Manson – Environment Agency
Adrian Hines – UK Met Office
Charlie Pilling – Flood Forecasting Centre
Steve Wragg – City of York Council
Ian Hope & Jan Cassidy – Leeds City Council
Simon Armistead & Henry Dixon –Yorkshire Water


April 2018 – July 2019


A Final Report has been produced to summarise this project, and in particular the culmination of that project in an incident response workshop, Exercise Augustus, that drew together organisations from across Yorkshire who work on flood preparedness and response.

You can freely download the Final Report which covers all aspects of the project, the Executive Summary and a Flyer about the project.

Final Report

Executive Summary


At the Royal Society’s Discussion meeting on Intensification of short-duration rainfall extremes and implications for flash flood risks iCASP presented a poster summarising the project.

Project updates: