Sophisticated strategies are required for flood warning in urban areas regarding convective heavy rainfall events. An approach is presented to improve short-term precipitation forecasts by combining ensembles of radar nowcasts with the high-resolution numerical weather predictions COSMO-DE-EPS of the German Weather Service. The combined ensemble forecasts are evaluated and compared to deterministic precipitation forecasts of COSMO-DE. The results show a significantly improved quality of the short-term precipitation forecasts and great potential to improve flood warnings for urban catchments. The combined ensemble forecasts are produced operationally every 5 min. Applications involve the Flood Warning Service Hamburg (WaBiHa) and real-time hydrological simulations with the model KalypsoHydrology.