Permanent Monitoring Panel -
Floods and Extreme Weather Events
Members of the Panel:
Robert Clark (USA)
Arnaldo Longhetto (Italy)
Summary of the Emergency
More deaths, property damage, and human misery are caused by droughts than any other
extreme weather event; however, floods, windstorms and other weather-related disasters
impact nearly as many people (700’000 annually, versus 960’000 annually from droughts).
Their impact often is significantly greater than droughts since they are suddenly
occurring events that require almost immediate mobilization of resources to combat
their severe effects. This places a severe strain on developing countries.
Levee systems to alleviate floods have existed in Europe and Asia for more than
2’000 years; but scientific knowledge to operate such systems successfully has been
developed only in the last 100 years. Fortunately, major improvements in flood prediction
have occurred through advances in meteorology and hydrology, coupled with a better
understanding of hydraulics.
The USA alone has sustained 44 weather-related disasters over the 20-year period
1980-1999 in which overall damages and costs each year exceeded $1 billion. The
midwest flooding alone during the summer of 1993 produced approximately $21 billion
damage/costs, although only 48 deaths were associated with the flooding as a result
of the excellent flood forecasts.
Unfortunately, 96 percent of all deaths from natural disasters occur in developing
countries. Recently, in February 2000, approximately 250’000 people were affected
by heavy rains and floods in the southern Mozambique provinces and at least 300’000
people on the island of Madagascar. Because both these countries are not well-developed
economically, while dollar damages and number and number of deaths were not large,
the number of refugees and costs to support them were monumental.
Click here for a more complete definition of this Emergency.
Priorities in dealing with the Emergency
The Permanent Monitoring Panel (PMP) on Floods and Extreme Weather Conditions will
monitor the following conditions:
Developing countries - no networks
Commercialization of networks in developed countries
Developing countries - computer technology not available
Training needed for maintenance of equipment and model use
Natural and/or man-made (anthropogenic) problems.
The PMP will also provide assistance to developing in the preparation of efficient
forecasting and warning systems, which are critical to protecting lives, property,
and environmental resources. The primary steps for disaster reduction are:
Assessing the risks
Reducing the losses
Workshop and Meeting Reports
A PMP Seminar was held in Geneva from 19-20 November 1998. Five on-going tasks important
for future activities of the PMP were proposed and discussed. These tasks included:
A second meeting of the PMP was held in Erice on 19 and 24 August, 1999. A number
of specific topics were discussed, including:
Activities of the USA National Weather Service.
Forecasting dust storms in Africa and the Middle East.
Climate forecasting in Africa.
Training for dust forecasting.
Seasonal rainfall in Sudan.
The PMP, in the Erice meetings of 19 and 24 August 1999, listed several goals and
subtopics for this panel. A proposed activity is the development of a web-site with
general information on specific topics related to floods and extreme weather events
with answers to most frequently asked questions: e.g., available training, predictive
techniques, and data access. Subtopics include:
Available case studies.
These topics will be the subject of future meetings with emphasis on specific subjects.