Early Detection and Analysis of an Unpredicted Convective Storm over the Negev Desert

Shilo Shiff, Amir Givati, Steve Brenner, Itamar M. Lensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On 15 September 2015, a convective storm yielded heavy rainfalls that caused the strongest flash flood in the last 50 years in the South Negev Desert (Israel). None of the operational forecast models predicted the event, and thus, no warning was provided. We analyzed this event using satellite, radar, and numerical weather prediction model data. We generated cloud-free climatological values on a pixel basis using Temporal Fourier Analysis on a time series of MSG geostationary satellite data. The discrepancy between the measured and climatological values was used to detect “cloud-contaminated” pixels. This simple, robust, fast, and accurate method is valuable for the early detection of convection. The first clouds were detected 30 min before they were detected by the official MSG cloud mask, 4.5 h before the radar, and 10 h before the flood reached the main road. We used the “severe storms” RGB composite and the satellite-retrieved vertical profiles of cloud top temperature–particle’s effective radius relations as indicators for the development of a severe convective storm. We also reran the model with different convective schemes, with much-improved results. Both the satellite and model-based analysis provided early warning for a very high probability of flooding a few hours before the actual flooding occurred.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5241
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


This research was funded by Israel Water Authority, grant number 4500963047, and Israel Meteorological Services.

FundersFunder number
Israel Water Authority4500963047
Israel Meteorological Service


    • cloud detection
    • convective storm
    • flash floods
    • nowcasting


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