The Pacific and Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are susceptible to many hydro-meteorological and other hazards, namely tropical storms and hurricanes, thunderstorms or lightning, coastal storm surges, floods, flash floods, coastal flooding, river flooding, tsunamis, drought, strong winds, heat waves, and dust or haze. These hazards have the potential to cause coastal erosion, landslides, mudslides, epidemics, and the movement and spread of toxic substances and volcanic material.
Flash floods are among the world’s deadliest natural disasters with more than 5 000 lives lost annually. Their social, economic and environmental impacts are significant. Accounting for approximately 85% of flooding cases, flash floods also have the highest mortality rate among different classes of flooding, including riverine and coastal. Flash floods differ from river floods in their short time scales and occurrence on small spatial scales, which makes flash flood forecasting a different challenge from large-river flood forecasting.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges to human society in contemporary times. Statistics show that the last decades have already seen a sharp rise in economic, social and environmental damages due to climate and weather-related natural hazards – and scientists expect the frequency and intensity of such extreme to rise due to climate change.