The Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project Gains Ground

From just five participating countries in Southeastern Africa in 2006, the Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project (SWFDP) now counts 22 participating countries in Southern and Eastern Africa.

It also covers 19 countries in the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and the Bay of Bengal regions. Within the next one to two years, the Project is expected to expand to Western Africa, the Caribbean and Central Asia.

The participants are from NMHSs of developing and least developed countries as well as small island developing states (SIDSs). Ultimately, the Project will empower their NMHSs to maintain effective multi-hazard warning systems with greater accuracy, more advance notice and in a manner that is more responsive to the needs of the main users, including disaster management and civil protection agencies, the media and the general public.

SWFDP uses a cascading forecasting process: Global Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) Centres provide their products to Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) which interpret the information to prepare daily guidance products (1-5 day) for distribution to National Meteorological Centres (NMCs) which in turn issue alerts, advisories, severe weather warnings; liaise with disaster management and other economic sectors; and sends feedback to SWFDP. SWFDP has improved the lead-time and reliability of alerts and warnings for high-impact events such as heavy rains, severe winds and high waves, helping to protect lives and property and supporting vital sectors such as farming, fishing and transportation.

Specialized SWFDP training is tailored to the participating NMHSs, based on regional and national needs. The focus is mainly on Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP), including Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) products and satellite information. Such training improves severe weather forecasting skills, and the engagement of NMHSs with the user sectors. In 2014, SWFDP workshops were organized for Southeast Asia in the Philippines, for Southern Africa in South Africa and for Eastern Africa in Rwanda. Together, they attracted 103 participants. The Pretoria workshop was preceded by a session on the Southern Africa Flash Flood Guidance System (SAFFGS), which was also attended by hydrologists from seven countries.

Norway provides the funding for SWFDP activities in Africa.

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