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September 12, 2023

What is a Hydrologic Outlook?

A hydrologic outlook is a weather warning about potential floods and other water-related disasters that could affect your area within the next several days. It is issued by meteorologists to help communities and government agencies prepare for flood risks. The term hydrologic comes from the scientific study of water, or hydrology.

Hydrologic outlooks are based on current regional weather conditions and predicted rainfall, as well as river flow data and other relevant information. They provide estimates of expected water levels, flow rates and flood risk. This type of forecast is different from river and coastal flood warnings, which are more urgent and should be heeded immediately.

The National Weather Service issues Hydrologic Outlooks on a weekly basis as part of the River Forecast Program. They are usually published on Thursdays for the week ahead.

Hydrologic Outlooks are based on local and regional weather conditions, including current and forecasted precipitation, snow pack analysis, river flows, soil moisture, and reservoir levels. They also take into account climate change projections and other relevant information.

Hydrologic Outlooks are crucial for reducing the vulnerability of human communities and critical infrastructure to water-related events. They can help stakeholders understand long-term changes in precipitation patterns and amplitudes of extreme events, as well as shifts in hydrological regimes. Effectively communicating these findings can encourage a proactive response to floods and other water-related events, as well as promote climate change resilience strategies.