[SDI-AsiaPacific] Myanmar: Forecasting worked; mitigation/response failed again
klance_remote at yahoo.com
Thu May 8 11:11:14 EDT 2008
Myanmar: Forecasting worked; mitigation/response failed again
By Vector One, May 8, 2008
"The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) supplied the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH) of Myanmar with information about cyclone Nargis as early as April 27. The WMO reported that “The New Delhi Office of the India Meteorological Department started to issue RSMC advisories at 00 UTC every 3 hours on 27 April, which continued until 06 UTC on 3 May. The last advisory said “the status of Nargis is a Severe Cyclonic Storm (50 knots) about 90 km south-west of Yangon”. The first forecast of landfall was issued at 06UTC on 1 May (36 hours in advance of landfall), which said that “Nargis will cross the Myanmar coast between 16 to 18 degrees north by the night of 2 May”. At 21 UTC of 1 May, it was forecast that “the maximum wind speed at landfall is expected to be 90 knots”. At 09 UTC on 2 May, the forecast was that “Nargis will cross near 16 degree North by 12 UTC with 90 knots wind speed”.
The question that needs to be addressed is, “if all of our spatial information systems are capable of forecasting, and for all intents and purposes are quite accurate, why is there still so much death and destruction?” Does this bode well for any other place on the planet in the future?
The WMO says,
“Effective early warning systems involve: (i) observing, monitoring and forecasting the hazards; (ii) development of authoritative and understandable warning messages that include hazard and risk information; (iii) timely dissemination of warnings to authorities and those at risk; and (iv) emergency preparedness and response measures at community level based on warning information. These capacities must be supported by clear national and local emergency plans and legislation which clearly lay out the roles and responsibilities of the different agencies in the operational warning system. “
Clearly (i)-(iii) were happening. Much more work needs to be done on (iv). Other communities should take note."
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