Strengthening of Severe Weather and Impact-based Forecasting capabilities in South and Southeast Asia

Hail Arunachal Pradesh.jpegHail Arunachal Pradesh

The WMO online Training Workshop on Severe Weather and Impact-based Warning Services for the South and Southeast Asia sub-regions from 28 February to 10 March addressed capacity needs for operational forecasters. It aimed to enhance their skills in nowcasting, in the use of Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) and ensemble predictions systems (EPS), and in impact-based forecasting and warnings services (IBFWS). The training also included consideration of the status of implementation of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) standard in the region (see CAP item in this issue of MeteoWorld).

The two sub-regions experience a plethora of hydrometeorological hazards, including tropical cyclones (also called typhoons), monsoons, severe convective storms, strong winds and heat waves. The WMO Severe Weather Forecasting Programme (SWFP) Southeast Asia and South Asia launched in 2010 and 2012 respectively as demonstration projects with contributions from WMO Global Data-processing and Forecasting System centres. SWFP, through the GDPFS, makes use of a cascading forecasting process to enable Members to deliver improved forecasts and warnings of severe and high impact weather. The Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) in New Delhi and the Regional Forecast Support Centre (RFSC) in Ha Noi, who collaborated with WMO on the Workshop, provide daily severe weather forecast guidance products to the NMHSs of the countries participating in the projects.

Further collaboration on the Workshop came from the Asia Regional Resilience to a Changing Climate (ARRCC) programme and the RSMC in Hong Kong. Experts from the Met Office (United Kingdom), the RSMCs, RFSC and the WMO Secretariat led the training, which included self-study modules and synchronous live sessions to encourage learner engagement. The lessons learned and experiences from the on-going pilot projects in India and Nepal were an important part of the Workshop. The operational forecasters were successfully trained:

  • On the interpretation and use of NWP, including EPS outputs, in medium-range forecasting
  • On IBFWS, including through case studies and experiences from the sub-regions
  • To use nowcasting tools and techniques, including use of satellite-based information and radar products to monitor high impact weather events and issuance of warnings
  • To communicate forecasts effectively, including impact-based forecasts and warning services, to the general public, key stakeholders and primary users such as disaster managers and media.
Hail Mausam_Bhavan_Delhi.jpegHail Mausam Bhavan, Delhi

The workshop’s participants were encouraged to make use of the SWFP web portals, including of the Global NWP Centres, RSMCs and RFSC and WMO Guidelines on Multi-hazard Impact-based Forecast and Warning Services (WMO-No. 1150), (Part I and Part II). They recognized that implementation of IBFWS would require strong collaboration and engagement between NMHSs and stakeholders/users. In addition, the role of operational forecasters would have to be revised in order to communicate “what the weather will DO” rather than simply providing information on what the weather will BE. The outcomes of this SWFP training workshop are expected to help improve the effectiveness of emergency preparedness and response efforts, minimizing the impacts of severe weather on vulnerable people and their livelihoods, thus contributing to building climate resilience in participating countries.

The Workshop was partially funded through ARRCC by the Met Office in partnership with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the World Bank. Thirty-eight operational forecasters – 14 of them women – from the NMHSs of 12 WMO Members were trained. The forecaster represented Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The implementation of SWFP-Southeast Asia has been supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada though CREWS initiative during 2017-2021 and by CREWS-Cambodia and Lao PDR since late 2021. SWFP-South Asia has been supported by ARRCC since 2019.

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