This paper highlights some communicative and institutional challenges to using ensemble prediction systems (EPS) in operational flood forecasting, warning, and civil protection. Focusing in particular on the Swedish experience, as part of the PREVIEW FP6 project, of applying EPS to operational flood forecasting, the paper draws on a wider set of site visits, interviews, and participant observation with flood forecasting centres and civil protection authorities (CPAs) in Sweden and 15 other European states to reflect on the comparative success of Sweden in enabling CPAs to make operational use of EPS for flood risk management. From that experience, the paper identifies four broader lessons for other countries interested in developing the operational capacity to make, communicate, and use EPS for flood forecasting and civil protection. We conclude that effective training and clear communication of EPS, while clearly necessary, are by no means sufficient to ensure effective use of EPS. Attention must also be given to overcoming the institutional obstacles to their use and to identifying operational choices for which EPS is seen to add value rather than uncertainty to operational decision making by CPAs.