World News – US – Why impacts should be the focus of dangerous weather warnings

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November 12 marks the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Bhola, the most dangerous weather event on record

When this storm made landfall over Bangladesh, coinciding with the high tide, the subsequent storm killed at least 300,000 people

This month also marks the start of hurricane season in the Pacific. Projections indicate that New Caledonia must prepare for stronger hurricane activity. New Zealand also faces a greater risk of being hit by extratropical cyclones

In the 50 years since Hurricane Pula, the accuracy of weather forecasts has improved dramatically. Five-day hurricane forecasts today are just as good as the three-day forecast 20 years ago, but the way we communicate their risks and impacts is overdue.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is working with its member states to change that by shifting to impact-based forecasting – moving from reporting what the weather will be like, to what the weather will do

Storms caused by tropical cyclones are among the most deadly and destructive natural hazards in the world and have killed up to 26 million people around the world over the past two centuries

The warming of the oceans means that the world is experiencing more intense hurricanes compared to the year 2000, and the sea level is expected to rise by 20-30 cm by 2050, leaving many coastal communities, especially those in small island states, vulnerable Increased storm surge caused by hurricanes

The traditional hazard-based warnings are based on criteria such as wind speed or precipitation intensity, but impact-based forecasts focus on the level of damage expected from an impending storm

When Hurricane Winston struck Fiji on February 20, 2016, it was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere

In 2017, an unprecedented hurricane season in the Caribbean unleashed major hurricanes Irma and Maria devastating many small island countries

The premise of impact-based forecasting is that good communication warning will enable people to make decisions and take action to reduce their exposure to life-threatening risks

But while such warnings may be more effective in raising awareness of the potential effects, my previous research indicates that this does not necessarily translate into further actions.

Preparedness is also an essential part of the equation, and it can only be achieved by working with communities and emergency services ahead of extreme events. Impact based forecasting will only be effective if it helps at-risk communities take action before these impacts

The State of Climate Services 2020 report, published by WMO and 15 other agencies last month, indicates that impact-based forecasting could be a game-changer for small island states in the Pacific and Caribbean regions

Since 1970, SIDS has lost US $ 153 billion due to weather, climate and water-related hazards. Nearly 90% of SIDS identified early warning systems as a top priority in their pledges under the Paris Climate Agreement.

These pledges, known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, are known as the efforts made by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change

While knowledge of hurricane risks is high in SIDS, their ability to report impacts and publish warnings is below the global average In an interview, WMO Chief of Early Warning Services (WMO) Cyrille Honoré told us that the move towards Impact based forecasting should improve the way different agencies can work together to protect vulnerable communities:

The reason we provide a forecast based on the impact on small island states is that it will help save more lives and protect assets, infrastructure and better livelihoods in the context of small island states, these impacts may be large enough to wipe out years of development efforts. So this is really a contribution to enhancing the resilience of these countries

Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama told us that he hopes the impact-based forecast will help Fijians prepare to deal with the new normal of « extreme weather patterns fueled by the climate »:

This work to improve hurricane forecasting is vital because it gives us a life-saving opportunity to prepare for the arrival of the storm, allowing relevant authorities to make accurate and timely forecasts to make better-informed decisions.

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Tropical Cyclone, Weather Warning, Forecasting, Storm Burst

World News – United States – Why impacts should be the focus of dangerous weather warnings
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New hurricane forecasts: Why impacts should be the focus of dangerous weather warnings



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