The National Water Model (NWM) is a hydrologic model that simulates observed and forecast streamflow over the entire continental United States (CONUS). The NWM simulates the water cycle with mathematical representations of the different processes and how they fit together. This complex representation of physical processes such as snowmelt and infiltration and movement of water through the soil layers varies significantly with changing elevations, soils, vegetation types and a host of other variables. Additionally, extreme variability in precipitation over short distances and times can cause the response on rivers and streams to change very quickly. Overall, the process is so complex that to simulate it with a mathematical model means that it needs a very high powered computer or super computer in order to run in the time frame needed to support decision makers when flooding is threatened.
Organization: National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration
Learn more: National Water Model