, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 471–481

Estimation of rainfall thresholds triggering shallow landslides for an operational warning system implementation

Technical Note


The Piemonte regional warning system service, managed by the Environmental Protection Agency of Piemonte (“ARPA Piemonte” as official Italian acronym), is based on an advanced meteo-hydrological automatic monitoring system, and it is integrated with forecasting activities of severe weather-related natural hazards. At present, a meteo-hydrological chain is operated to provide flood forecasting on the main river pattern. The development of a forecasting tool for shallow landslides triggered by heavy rainfall is presented. Due to the difficulties in modelling shallow landslides triggering in a large and complex area like the Piemonte region, an empirical model is developed on the basis of the correlation between rainfall and previous landslides in historical documents. The research focuses on establishing rainfall thresholds for landslides triggering, differentiating the critical rainfall values through a geological characterisation of the different territories. The period from 1990 to 2002 is considered. A total number of 160 landslides with hourly information and time of triggering are used to calibrate the system. As a first outcome, two different zones have been identified: (1) zones in alpine environments, principally characterised by a bedrock composed of metamorphic rocks, igneous rocks, dolostones or limestones that require high values of critical rainfall and (2) zones in hilly environments, principally characterised by sedimentary bedrock that require low values of critical rainfall. Verification has been performed on a total number of 429 landslides with known date of occurrence. The results show a good agreement with the model with no missed alarms and a very low number of false alarms, thus suggesting an effective operational implementation.


Early warning Intense rainfall North-western Italy Piemonte 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARPA Piemonte—Sistemi PrevisionaliTurinItaly

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