Flash floods cause more than 5,000 deaths worldwide annually, exceeding any other flood-related event. As the global population increases, especially in urban areas, and societies continue to encroach upon floodplains, the need for flash flood early warning systems becomes more paramount.
In response to this need, the WMO, the US National Weather Service, the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the Hydrologic Research Center formed a partnership in 2007 to develop and implement an early warning flash flood forecasting system (Flash Flood Guidance System – FFGS) for global application.
By 2019, over 3 billion people in 67 countries are being provided early warnings of potential flash flooding through their national meteorological and hydrological services working in concert with their national disaster management agencies.
At an international workshop in Antalya, Turkey held in early November 2019, 170 experts representing 60 countries and seven organizations noted that the application of the Flash Flood Guidance System over the past decade has led to a significant reduction in the loss of life and property in those countries where it is being used.
However, further investments are needed to strengthen the FFGS, take advantage of emerging science and technology and maximize the potential benefits.
Participants of the workshop stated that a number of efforts were required to improve governance, better address technical issues (for example, adopting a research-to-operations process), improve training and capabilities, increase visibility, and mobilize additional resources to help ensure sustainability.
They also issued a call to national governments encouraging them to recognize that the Flash Flood Guidance System is an efficacious means of reducing the loss of lives and property in their countries.
In this video, countries from around the world provide testimonies of how the FFGS has benefited them.