(Flash) Floods on 27 Augustus 2010 in lowland catchments in The Netherlands and Germany

Brauer, C.C.; Teuling, A.J.; Overeem, A.; Velde, Y. van der; Hazenberg, P.; Warmerdam, P.M.M.; Uijlenhoet, R.; Hobbelt, L.G.


On 26 August 2010 the eastern part of The Netherlands and the bordering part of Germany were struck by a series of rainfall events. Over an area of 740 km2 more than 120 mm of rainfall were observed in 24 h. This extreme event resulted in local flooding of city centres, highways and agricultural fields, and considerable financial loss. We investigated the unprecedented flash flood triggered by this exceptionally heavy rainfall event in the 6.5 km2 Hupsel Brook catchment, which has been the experimental watershed employed by Wageningen University since the 1960s. This study aims to improve our understanding of the dynamics of such lowland flash floods. We present a detailed hydrometeorological analysis of this extreme event, focusing on its synoptic meteorological characteristics, its space-time rainfall dynamics as observed with rain gauges, weather radar and a microwave link, as well as the measured soil moisture, groundwater and discharge response of the catchment. We found that the response of the Hupsel Brook catchment can be divided into four phases: (1) soil moisture reservoir filling, (2) groundwater response, (3) surface depression filling and surface runoff and (4) backwater feedback. During this extreme event some thresholds became apparent that do not play a role during average conditions and are not incorporated in rainfall-runoff models. Because of the large spatial extent of the rainfall event, many brooks and rivers in the Netherlands and Germany flooded. With data from several catchments we investigated the influence of rainfall and catchment characteristics (such as slope, size and land use) on the reaction of discharge to rainfall.