Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS)

Release Date:

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 5.1.0 (released May 1, 2020).

Download Previous Versions of PRMS

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)


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., 2020 PRMS version 5.1.0: Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS): U.S. Geological Survey Software Release, 05/01/2020.

Software License and Purchase Information

This software is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, which is part of the U.S. Government.


This software is freely distributed. There is no fee to download and (or) use this software.


Users do not need a license or permission from the USGS to use this software. Users can download and install as many copies of the software as they need.

Public Domain

As a work of the United States Government, this USGS product is in the public domain within the United States. You can copy, modify, distribute, and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. Additionally, USGS waives copyright and related rights in the work worldwide through CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication ( ).



This software has been approved for release by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Although the software has been subjected to rigorous review, the USGS reserves the right to update the software as needed pursuant to further analysis and review. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made by the USGS or the U.S. Government as to the functionality of the software and related material nor shall the fact of release constitute any such warranty. Furthermore, the software is released on condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from its authorized or unauthorized use. Also refer to the USGS Water Resources Software User Rights Notice for complete use, copyright, and distribution information.

Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.