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Seychelles begins using Flash Flood Guidance System 

Victoria, Seychelles | July 11, 2024, Thursday @ 09:31 in National » GENERAL | By: Alisa Uzice Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 1751
Seychelles begins using Flash Flood Guidance System 

The FFGS is an important tool necessary to provide operational forecasters and disaster management agencies with real-time informational about the threat of small-scale flash flooding. (Seychelles Nation)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles has begun implementing the Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) project led by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), according to a top official.

The system addresses the issues associated with flash floods, especially the lack of capacity to develop effective flash flood warnings.

To start the implementation, a group of experts from the WMO held a week-long meeting with relevant local authorities such as the Seychelles Meteorological Authority (SMA), where they introduced the project.

The chief executive of the SMA, Vincent Amelie, told SNA, "Our previsions were traditionally based on computer models and atmospheric predictions, so we weren't sure when any floodings would happen, now this system blends atmospheric predictions with readings from the soil conditions, which is called impact-based forecasting."  

He emphasised the importance of additional stations in the country especially for data that is accurate and up to standard and that this will be another component of the FFGS project.  

"To do climate research you must have at least 30 years of data, and the one at the airport meets all standards. To be fair, we also had small stations around the island, where volunteers only recorded the daily amount of rainfall using a rain gauge. It didn't include parameters such as temperature or humidity," said Amelie. 

He added that last year, the Seychelles Meteorological Authority "installed 15 automatic stations and this year we are planning on procuring 15 more for other islands. We believe in also helping ourselves so these automatic stations are part of a project that the Seychelles Meteorological Authority is financing apart from the FFGS project component."  

The Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) was designed and developed for interactive use by meteorological and hydrologic forecasters worldwide. The World Meteorological Organisation, the United States National Weather Service, the Office of the United States Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the Hydrologic Research Centre initially developed it. The partnership was formed in 2007 to create and implement an early warning flash flood forecasting system for global application.

The FFGS has been described as an important tool necessary to provide operational forecasters and disaster management agencies with real-time informational guidance products about the threat of small-scale flash flooding.

The implementation phase of the project in Seychelles is expected to last around two years and be done in phases - deployment of equipment, installation as well as a training component for local forecasters.

A project management officer from the WMO, Fatih Kaya, said this training provided by the WMO will be a comprehensive one comprising different levels over two years.

"After the first introductions and online training programmes, they will also go through an extensive training programme that takes around one month to graduate, receiving a certificate from the Hydrological Resource Centre in San Diego. After this training is finalised, people come to a level that they can operate, and then design the system for the country based on the needs and resources of the country, meaning the system is flexible, and tailored by local forecasters," she explained.

"We understand what is available in the country if, let's say, internet bandwidth or storage facilities for purpose, together with countries involved. But we either go for Institute hardware, additional servers, which is creating this product, or we go for cloud-based solutions to have reliable solutions," added Kaya.

She said the last component is to ensure that Seychelles responds to the results given by the system, especially in ensuring that the Disaster Risk Management Division (DRMD) has procedures in place for any eventual flash floods that may occur.

The FFGS participated in a side event at the fourth small island developing state conference held in Antigua and Barbuda in May. The benefits of properly using this system were discussed and two case studies were presented.

The chief of Hydrological Forecasting and Water Resources Division at WMO, Dr Hwirin Kim, highlighted certain challenges that they face especially when implementing this project.

"The members' honesty is so important, and maybe some countries feel that this project is not that important to do it before they experience difficulties. I mentioned during the session, that there are a lot of issues with data sharing and cooperation between the stakeholders in the country. In the beginning, it is important that they by themselves are engaged," she told SNA.

"In the case of Seychelles, even if it is not a poor country it became one of the 30 top priorities under the early warning for all initiative. The project is still at the beginning, we first started with small online meetings, with Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius, those are our target small islands in the SWIO (south western Indian Ocean). During the first in-person meeting we will now see the priorities of the country," she added.  

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Tags: World Meteorological Organisation, Flash Flood Guidance System, Disaster Risk Management Division, Seychelles Meteorological Authority

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