We examine the potential of assimilating river discharge observations into the atmosphere by strongly coupled river-atmosphere ensemble data assimilation. The Japan Meteorological Agency's Non-Hydrostatic atmospheric Model (JMA-NHM) is first coupled with a simple rainfall-runoff model. Next, the local ensemble transform Kalman filter is used for this coupled model to assimilate the observations of the rainfall-runoff model variables into the JMA-NHM model variables. This system makes it possible to do hydrometeorology backward, i.e., to inversely estimate atmospheric conditions from the information of river flows or a flood on land surfaces. We perform a proof-of-concept Observing System Simulation Experiment, which reveals that the assimilation of river discharge observations into the atmospheric model variables can improve the skill of the short-term severe rainfall forecast. ©2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.