Natural Hazards

, Volume 75, Issue 2, pp 1389–1402 | Cite as

Determination of the distribution of flood forecasting error

  • Junhong Zhang
  • Lu Chen
  • Vijay P. Singh
  • Hongwen Cao
  • Dangwei Wang
Original Paper


Flood forecasting plays an essential role in enhancing the safety of residents downstream and preventing or reducing economic losses. One critical issue in flood risk assessment is the determination of the probability distribution of forecast errors. Several investigations, which have been carried out to analyze the influence of the uncertainty in real-time operation or water resources management, assumed that the relative forecast error was approximately normally distributed. This study investigates whether the flood forecast error follows the normal distribution. Several distributions were fitted to the flood error series, and their performances were analyzed using the data from Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) and Muma River. Then, the most appropriate distribution was selected. Results show that the assumption of normal distribution is not justified for the flood forecast error series of TGR and Muma River. The use of normal distribution for estimating flood risk may lead to incorrect results.


Flood forecasting error Probability distribution function Three Gorges Reservoir Muma River 



The project was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC Grant 51309104, 51209221), Open Research Fund of State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR-SKL-201408), Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province (No. 2013CFB184) and Wuhan Planning Project of Science and Technology (2014060101010064).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junhong Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lu Chen
    • 3
    • 4
  • Vijay P. Singh
    • 4
  • Hongwen Cao
    • 1
  • Dangwei Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of River Basin Water CycleChina Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower ResearchBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Chemistry and Materials ScienceWuhanChina
  3. 3.College of Hydropower and Information EngineeringHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina
  4. 4.Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Zachry Department of Civil EngineeringTexas A&M University (TAMU)College StationUSA

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