The choice of model for operational flood forecasting is not simple because of different process representations, data scarcity issues, and propagation of errors and uncertainty down the modeling chain. An objective decision needs to be made for the choice of the modeling tools. However, this decision is complex because all parts of the process have inherent uncertainty. This paper provides a model selection with a filter sequence for flood forecasting applications in data scarce regions, using Kenya as an example building on the existing literature, concentrating on six aspects: (i) process representation, (ii) model applicability to different climatic and physiographic settings, (iii) data requirements and model resolution, (iv) ability to be downscaled to smaller scales, (v) availability of model code, and (vi) possibility of adoption of the model into an operation flood forecasting system. In addition, we review potential models based on the proposed criteria and apply a decision tree as a filter sequence to provide insights on the possibility of model applicability. We summarize and tabulate an evaluation of the reviewed models based on the proposed criteria and propose the potential model candidates for flood applications in Kenya. This evaluation serves as an objective model preselection criterion to propose a modeling tool that can be adopted in development and operational flood forecasting to the end‐users of an early warning system that can help mitigate the effects of floods in data scarce regions such as Kenya.