WMO is to expand its acclaimed Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project to West Africa in a drive to provide reliable forecasts of hazardous weather in support of disaster risk reduction.
Representatives of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) from nine countries in West Africa met in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, from 4 to 8 September to develop a draft implementation plan, thanks to seed funding from Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA).
It is the third sub-regional project. The first SWFDP regional subproject was started in Southern Africa in 2006, while the second was initiated for Eastern Africa in 2010. The SWFDP regional subprojects also benefits developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in other regions, namely the southwest Pacific, the Bay of Bengal, Southeast and Central Asia and the Eastern Caribbean.
Since its inception, SWFDP has helped improve the lead-time and reliability of forecasts and warnings for high-impact events such as heavy rain, strong winds and high waves, thus helping to protect lives and properties while supporting vital sectors such as fishing and transportation.
Ultimately, the project will empower participating national meteorological and hydrological services to maintain effective multi-hazard early warning systems with greater accuracy, more advance notice and in a manner that is more responsive to the needs of users, including disaster management and civil protection agencies, the media and the general public.
SWFDP uses a “Cascading Forecasting Process” – moving high value information from global to regional to national levels:
- Global Centres provide Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) and Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) products, including probabilities for a specific time frame;
- Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres interpret the information received from the Global Centres and prepare daily guidance products (1–5 day) for distribution to National Meteorological Centres;
National Meteorological Centres issue alerts, advisories, and severe weather warnings; liaise with disaster management and other socioeconomic sectors for improved decision making process including in DRR activities; and contribute feedback on the project.
By making efficient use of the Global Data Processing and Forecasting System (GDPFS) centres outputs through ‘cascading forecasting process’, the SWFDP brings high value NWP and satellite information into the hands of national forecasters in developing countries, allowing them to issue more accurate forecasts and timely warnings.
The meeting in Abidjan was also attended by experts from global and regional centres including Meteo France, WMO’s Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) Dakar, the African Center of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD), and the Direction de la Météorologie Nationale (DMN) Morocco. Representatives from NMHSs of Benin, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal and Togo all attended.
RSMC Dakar will be responsible for analyses of the available products and information and the development and issuance of daily Severe Weather Forecast Guidance product for use by NMHSs of participating countries to issue alerts, advisories and weather warnings for high impact weather.
Specialized SWFDP training workshops will help develop forecasting capacity and skill and strengthen the engagement of NMHSs with users and socioeconomic sectors for better delivery of warning services. Both ACMAD and DNM- Morocco will serve as regional support centre for technical training and for provision of some additional products.