A first-of-its-kind system for South Asian countries that will provide alerts for flash floods 6-24 hours in advance was launched at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Friday. The World Meteorological Department (WMO) has entrusted India with the responsibility of the Regional Centre of South Asia Flash Flood Guidance System for coordination, development and its implementation. India also shares cyclone warning alerts with neighbouring countries.
The system will enable the member countries -- India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan -- issue impact-based forecasting of floods which are very sudden and of short duration at watershed and also city level, IMD director general Mrutunjay Mohapatra said at the online launch. Representatives of the member countries attended the event.
Flash floods are highly localised events of short duration with a very high peak and usually have less than six hours between the occurrence of the rainfall and peak flood. There is a general lack of flash flood warning capabilities and capacities among countries across the world.
Recognising that flash floods have a particularly disastrous impact on lives and properties of the affected populations, the 15th WMO Congress had approved the implementation of a Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) project with global coverage.
The system has been developed by the WMO Commission for Hydrology, jointly with the WMO Commission for Basic Systems and in collaboration with the US National Weather Service, the US Hydrologic Research Centre (HRC).
The IMD has highly advanced capabilities with respect to computing power, numerical weather prediction, vast observational network (ground, air and space based), and an internationally acclaimed weather forecasting system.
It has tested the performance of the system during recent monsoon seasons in the pre-operational mode and the flash flood bulletins were issued to national hydrological and meteorological services in the region for its validation, said B P Yadav, a senior scientist at the IMD.
The system has in-depth science, dynamics and diagnostics to provide guidance for the possible occurrences of flash floods at local level, Yadav added.
"The guidance for flash floods in the form of Threats (6 hours in advance) and Risks (24 hours in advance) will be provided by Regional Centre to National Meteorological & Hydrological Services, National and State Disaster Management Authorities and all other stakeholders for taking necessary mitigation measures to reduce the loss of life and property in the South Asian region countries of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka,” Mohapatra said.
M Rajeevan, the secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, stressed the need for enhancing the observational network for rainfall and soil moisture to improvise the performance of the system.