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Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS)

February 10, 2022

Overview of PRMS

Diagram of Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System Soil Zone.
Details of the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System Soil Zone.

The Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) is a deterministic, distributed-parameter, physical process based modeling system developed to evaluate the response of various combinations of climate and land use on streamflow and general watershed hydrology. The primary objectives are:

  1. simulate hydrologic processes including evaporation, transpiration, runoff, infiltration, and interflow as determined by the energy and water budgets of the plant canopy, snowpack, and soil zone on the basis of distributed climate information (temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation);
  2. simulate hydrologic water budgets at the watershed scale for temporal scales ranging from days to centuries;
  3. integrate PRMS with other models used for natural-resource management or with models from other scientific disciplines; 
  4. provide a modular design that allows for selection of alternative hydrologic-process algorithms from the standard PRMS module library.


Download Current Version of PRMS

The current release is PRMS 5.2.1 (released February 10, 2022).

Download Previous Versions of PRMS

PRMS 5.2.0 (released January 20, 2021).

PRMS 5.1.0 (released May 31, 2020).

PRMS 5.0.0 (released May 30, 2019).

PRMS 4.0.3 (released May 5, 2017)

PRMS 4.0.2 (released August 17, 2016)

PRMS 4.0.1 (released March 15, 2015)

PRMS 4.0.0 (released March 15, 2015)

PRMS 3.0.5 (released April 24, 2013)

PRMS 3.0.4 (released January 15, 2013)

PRMS 3.0.3 was never publicly released

PRMS 3.0.2 (released September 29. 2012)

PRMS 3.0.1 (released February 6, 2012)

PRMS 3.0.0 (released November 15, 2011)


Training Videos

Training Videos for PRMS


Support for PRMS

Support is provided for correcting bugs and clarification of how the code is intended to work. Only limited assistance can be provided for applying PRMS in specific studies.

Before contacting us for support, please:

  1. Make sure that you have downloaded the most current version of PRMS (available above).
  2. Run the model in "command line mode" (see the example problems included in the download on how to do this) and correct any issues that are identified by either error or warning messages.
  3. If you were unable to get rid of any messages, capture (screen grabs are best) them in their entirety.
  4. Describe the action that seems to have triggered the problem (ie "started crashing when I try to load a new data file").


Documentation for PRMS

The following report documents the use of PRMS, including the structure, input and output files, and most of the hydrological process modules:

Markstrom, S.L., Regan, R.S., Hay, L.E., Viger, R.J., Webb, R.M.T., Payn, R.A., and LaFontaine, J.H., 2015, PRMS-IV, the precipitation-runoff modeling system, version 4: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 6, chap. B7, 158 p.,

Regan, R.S., and LaFontaine, J.H., 2017, Documentation of the dynamic parameter, water-use, stream and lake flow routing, and two summary output modules and updates to surface-depression storage simulation and initial conditions specification options with the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS): U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 6, chap. B8, 60 p.,

Regan, R.S., Markstrom, S.L., Hay, L.E., Viger, R.J., Norton, P.A., Driscoll, J.M., LaFontaine, J.H., 2018, Description of the National Hydrologic Model for use with the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS): U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 6, chap B9, 38 p.,

Note:  updates to tables 2, 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, and 1-5 in the above User's Manual are available for download:  PRMS_tables_5.1.0.pdf [1.3 MB PDF]

A bibliography for PRMS [197 KB PDF} is also available.


How to Cite PRMS

This USGS software has two citations associated with it.

  1. The report citation is for the original report or article documenting the underlying theory, methods, instructions, and (or) applications at the time the initial version of the software was released. This digital object identifier (DOI) is for the report.
  2. The software release citation is for the software/code itself (now referred to by USGS as a "Software Release") and references a specific version of the code and associated release date. This DOI links to the code.

In instances where an author is citing use of this software, it would be appropriate to cite both the report documenting the code and the specific software release version that was used.

Report Citation for PRMS Shown Above

Software/Code Citation for GSFLOW

Regan, R.S., Markstrom, S.L., LaFontaine, J.H., 2022, PRMS version 5.2.1: Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS): U.S. Geological Survey Software Release, 02/10/2022.


Related Software

Luca (Let us calibrate)

Luca is a wizard-style graphical user interface (GUI) for building and performing systematic multi-objective, step-wise calibration of hydrologic models.

Publication Year 2022
Title Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS)
Product Type Software Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog