HRC Participates in Flash Flood Guidance System Global Workshop

The first Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) Global Workshop was held in Antalya, Turkey from 4-8 Nov 2019.  The workshop was sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the U.S. Agency for International Development/ Office of the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), and was hosted by the Turkish State Meteorological Service (TSMS).  The workshop brought together operational users and managers of the FFG systems from National Meteorological and Hydrologic Services and Regional Centers, researchers, FFGS developers, and funding entities, with a total of more than 170 participants from 60+ countries.  The workshop provided a unique opportunity for operational users, developers, stakeholders, and researchers of the Global Flash Flood Guidance Program to discuss their experiences, operational protocols, successes and lessons learned on a truly global scale and to examine the issue of operational sustainability.

Drs. Zhengyang Cheng, Theresa Modrick Hansen, Konstantine Georgakakos, and Eylon Shamir of HRC attended the week-long workshop.  They contributed to the discussions representing the technical implementation partner for the Program.  As noted in Dr. Georgakakos’ welcoming speech, the workshop represented the culmination of 15 years of implementation work at HRC, and more than 25 years of research and development activities by the HRC Staff.  The first regional flash flood guidance system was implemented by HRC for the Central America Region (CAFFGS) and encompasses the 7 countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.  CAFFG has been operational since 2003.  Under the Global Flash Flood Guidance Program, HRC has partnered with WMO, USAID/OFDA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to implement 13 regional FFGSs as of the time of the Workshop, covering more than 65 countries and servicing 3 billion people.

During the first two days of the workshop, HRC representatives gave presentations on several advances in modeling and capabilities of the FFGS.  Dr. Georgakakos provided an overview presentation on several advanced capabilities of FFGS, including landslide risk assessment, riverine routing, urban flash flood modeling, and seasonal ensemble prediction.  Dr. Cheng described the development of riverine routing and urban modeling, using detailed examples from the operational Jakarta and Istanbul Urban Flash Flood warning systems.  Both presentations sparked many comments of interest and expressed the need to develop such enhancements in other regions.  Dr. Modrick Hansen gave a live demonstration of the MAPSERVER Interface of the FFGS, utilizing examples from FijiFFGS, Southeastern Europe (SEEFFGS), and the Black Sea Middle East (BSMEFFGS).  Many of the operational forecasters stated their enthusiasm over the new Interface.  HRC representatives arranged for side meetings to provide training and answer questions on the MAPSERVER interface with individuals or small groups of operational forecasters.

The Workshop format involved poster sessions where the primary exchange of ideas and discussions happened, with plenary sessions to assemble and further discuss common observations from the poster sessions.  There were sessions on input data and forecasts, FFGS product use and utility, products operational use and utility, product and flash flood warning validation, interaction and support for disaster management agencies, system and operations sustainability.  HRC Staff contributed to various poster sessions throughout the workshop, including poster presentations on the MWGHE satellite precipitation estimation methodology and validation, FFGS verification methods, urban flash flood modeling with routing, and impact-based forecasting.  During these poster sessions, we had the chance to discuss methods, results, and questions with many individual forecasters and researchers.  The final day of the workshop was dedicated to break-out sessions on FFGS needs and operational sustainability.  It was informative and productive to hear the interests, concerns, needs and ideas for sustainability put forth by the workshop attendees.  HRC Staff served as rapporteurs during these sessions, taking notes to support the generation of the overall workshop report, and to report to the full workshop assembly after several sessions.

The overall conclusions of the workshop were that (a) the FFGS has been a very positive advance in the support of forecasters in their difficult task of operational flash flood prediction and warning in diverse climates and settings, and (b) it is important to take steps to assure sustainability of FFGS operations worldwide while expanding to flash flood prone areas that do not as yet have system support.

More information about the workshop can be found in the WMO news release, in the January 2020 Flash Flood Guidance Gazette, or at the workshop website.

Testimonies on the use of the FFGS system from various countries can be seen on the WMO website here.

More information on the global Flash Flood Guidance System program can be found here or on the WMO Website