Strengthening of severe weather forecasting capabilities in West and Central Africa

A two-week Training Workshop on Severe Weather and Impact-Based Forecast and Warning Services for countries in West and Central Africa was held online from 25 May to 3 June. This activity of the WMO Severe Weather Forecasting Programme (SWFP) gathered more than 45 operational forecasters from the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) of 16 countries in the sub-regions to receive training on Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) products and early warning system tools, including Impact-based Forecast and Warning Services (IBFWS).

The workshop, held with support from the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative, addressed the capacity building needs of the NMHSs of countries involved in SWFP and CREWS funded projects in West and Central Africa. It consisted of self-study modules and daily “live sessions” that were simultaneously interpreted in French and English. Experts and lecturers were provided by several World Meteorological Centres (WMCs) – ECMWF, Washington (NOAA/NCEP) and Exeter (Met Office, UK) – – and Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) and other institutions –  Meteo France, RSMC Dakar, RSMC Barcelona, RSMC Pretoria and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)’s COMET Program (MetEdu).

During the workshop, forecasters were trained to interpret NWP products, to use Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) outputs and to use satellite-based information to help with nowcasting severe and high impact weather events. They gained an understanding of the basic concept of IBFWS, its benefits to an NMHS and the steps for implementing it, including the paradigm shift necessary for an NMHS to adopt in implementing IBFWS in terms of collaboration with the Disaster Management Authorities and other stakeholders such as the media, and health sector. They were also introduced to the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) standard and the WMO Register of Alerting Authorities.

The event helped to improve the skills of the operational forecasters with tools and products for early warning services and will thereby also contribute to the effectiveness of emergency preparedness, response and recovery efforts while reducing the impacts of extreme events on vulnerable people and on their livelihoods in West and Central Africa.

The SWFP aims to provide operational support for Multi-hazard Early Warning Services (MHEWS) at sub-regional and national levels. Information on the Programme and its projects is available online.

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