An accurate and real-time flood forecast is a crucial nonstructural step to flood mitigation. A support vector machine (SVM) is based on the principle of structural risk minimization and has a good generalization capability. The ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) is a proven method with the capability of handling nonlinearity in a computationally efficient manner. In this paper, a type of SVM model is established to simulate the rainfall–runoff (RR) process. Then, a coupling model of SVM and EnKF (SVM + EnKF) is used for RR simulation. The impact of the assimilation time scale on the SVM + EnKF model is also studied. A total of four different combinations of the SVM and EnKF models are studied in the paper. The Xinanjiang RR model is employed to evaluate the SVM and the SVM + EnKF models. The study area is located in the Luo River Basin, Guangdong Province, China, during a nine-year period from 1994 to 2002. Compared to SVM, the SVM + EnKF model substantially improves the accuracy of flood prediction, and the Xinanjiang RR model also performs better than the SVM model. The simulated result for the assimilation time scale of 5 days is better than the results for the other cases.

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