Numerical reconstruction of historical extreme floods: The Guadiana event of 1876

González-Cao J., Fernández-Nóvoa D., García-Feal O., Figueira, J.R., Vaquero J.M, Trigo R.M., Gómez-Gesteira M.
Journal of Hydrology, Vol 599, 2021, 126292. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2021.126292

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In recent decades, the development of numerical tools has facilitated the ability to reproduce extreme flood events, which allows a far better understanding of their features, contributing to mitigate their negative effects in similar future scenarios. This paper analyzes the flood event that occurred in December 1876 in Badajoz (Spain-Guadiana basin), one of the most catastrophic flood events recorded in Europe, using a three-stage methodology. First, an estimation of the precipitation recorded in the Guadiana river basin during the days prior to the event was carried out starting from the precipitation data recorded in two precipitation stations located in the western part of the basin; second, Guadiana river flow in Badajoz was obtained by means of the HEC-HMS code using the precipitation estimated in the first stage. Third, the flood registered on December 1876 in Badajoz was reproduced using the numerical code Iber+. The peak flow obtained was equal to: 12,774 ± 1,360 m3s?1. This value improves the accuracy of estimated shown in previous works which, most of them, are lower limits of this value. Numerical results of the flood event in Badajoz and in areas surrounding the city show a good agreement with water marks and some descriptions of the event found in the literature. Results obtained in this work demonstrate the ability of the methodology to reproduce historical extreme flood events even when the availability of input data is relatively scarce.