Evaluation of the WRF model to simulate a high-intensity rainfall event over Kampala, Uganda

Y. Umer*, J. Ettema, V. Jetten, G.-J. Steeneveld, R. Ronda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
109 Downloads (Pure)


Simulating high-intensity rainfall events that trigger local floods using a Numerical Weather Prediction model is challenging as rain-bearing systems are highly complex and localized. In this study, we analyze the performance of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model’s capability in simulating a high-intensity rainfall event using a variety of parameterization combinations over the Kampala catchment, Uganda. The study uses the high-intensity rainfall event that caused the local flood hazard on 25 June 2012 as a case study. The model capability to simulate the high-intensity rainfall event is performed for 24 simulations with a different combination of eight microphysics (MP), four cumulus (CP), and three planetary boundary layer (PBL) schemes. The model results are evaluated in terms of the total 24-h rainfall amount and its temporal and spatial distributions over the Kampala catchment using the Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) analysis. Rainfall observations from two gauging stations and the CHIRPS satellite product served as benchmark. Based on the TOPSIS analysis, we find that the most successful combination consists of complex microphysics such as the Morrison 2-moment scheme combined with Grell-Freitas (GF) and ACM2 PBL with a good TOPSIS score. However, the WRF performance to simulate a high-intensity rainfall event that has triggered the local flood in parts of the catchment seems weak (i.e., 0.5, where the ideal score is 1). Although there is high spatial variability of the event with the high-intensity rainfall event triggering the localized floods simulated only in a few pockets of the catchment, it is remarkable to see that WRF is capable of producing this kind of event in the neighborhood of Kampala. This study confirms that the capability of the WRF model in producing high-intensity tropical rain events depends on the proper choice of parametrization combinations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number873
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2021


  • Deep convection
  • High-intensity rainfall event
  • Kampala
  • Parametrization combinations
  • Uganda
  • WRF model evaluation
  • Boundary layers
  • Catchments
  • Predictive analytics
  • Rain
  • Runoff
  • Weather forecasting
  • Gauging stations
  • High intensity rainfall
  • Numerical weather prediction models
  • Planetary boundary layers
  • Satellite products
  • Spatial variability
  • Temporal and spatial distribution
  • Weather research and forecasting models
  • Floods
  • Climate modeling
  • Climate prediction
  • Cumulus
  • Flood
  • Parameterization
  • Performance assessment
  • Precipitation intensity
  • Simulation


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