Southwest Extreme Precipitation Symposium (SWEPSYM)

April 1, 2019

SWEPSYM is annual conference co-hosted by the Floodplain Management Association and CW3E that brings together the scientific community and water managers in the Southwest. The conference is at the interface of research and applications. In particular it has 4 main objectives:

  • Bring attention to precipitation extremes in the Southwest region of North America
  • Share technical and scientific information and knowledge about the various factors responsible for producing extreme precipitation and the hydrologic processes responsible for generating runoff in semi-arid and arid areas
  • Advance our understanding of the causes of extreme precipitation with the hope of increasing the warning time of precipitation extremes, ranging from droughts to floods
  • Exchange information on engineering, water management, flood control, agricultural, and other Southwest regional needs for information on extreme precipitation
  • The theme for the 2019 conference was “Complexities of Flood and Water Resource Predictability in the Southwest U.S”. The morning focused on new scientific results that discussed the causes and predictability of extreme precipitation, streamflow and drought. Jeanine Jones, CA Department of Water Resources, began the morning discussing the importance of subseasonal to seasonal forecasting on the Colorado River Basin to regional water management. This was followed by Marty Ralph, CW3E, presenting on CW3E research and on-going efforts related to extreme precipitation forecasting throughout the Southwest. The next four speakers focused on specific topics of extreme events, including the complexities associated with streamflow in Arizona by Katherine K. Hirschboeck, extreme summertime precipitation in the Lake Mead watershed by Mike Sierks, drivers of short duration high intensity rainfall in Southern California by Nina Oakley, and drought monitoring in Arizona by Mike Crimmins. To wrap-up the session, the speakers all participated in a panel and expanded on their presentations by discussing the difficulty in forecasting the extremes. The discussion was moderated by Julie Kalansky of CW3E.

    The afternoon focused on the application of hydrometeorology science to water management in the Southwest. The session began with Mark Forest of HDR discussing recent tools and examples of simulating extreme event behaviors and estimating risk from these events, including in future climate change scenarios. Adam Hutchinson, from Orange County Water District (OCWD), presented on how extreme event forecasting can support storm water capture for groundwater recharge – especially, as OCWD begins examining the possibility of implementing Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations at Prado Dam. Armin Munévar of Jacobs Consulting and Jeffrey Arnold of the US Army Corps of engineers presented on ways their firm/agency are building resilience to extremes (flood and drought) using information from climate projections. The afternoon session ended with Levi Brekke of the US Bureau of Reclamation presenting on the results from the S2S Rodeo which was a USBR sponsored community S2S forecasting challenge for the Western US. Similar to the morning session, the afternoon session ended with a panel discussion moderated by Dave Curtis, West Consultants.

    The event wrapped up with poster presentations and networking session where all the attendees and presenters had a chance to discuss the material presented throughout the day.

    All the presentations can be found at the SWEPSYM website: