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WMO supports new initiative to build disaster resilience in South-East Europe

5 October 2016 (WMO) - A new cross-border multi-hazard early warning advisory system will be introduced in South-East Europe to increase resilience to floods, landslides, droughts and heat-waves which often hit the region.

The new system, called the South-East European Multi-Hazard Early Warning Advisory System (SEE-MHEWS-A), will provide operational forecasters with effective and tested tools for forecasting hazardous weather events and their possible impacts. On a single virtual platform, the system will support the provision of accurate forecasts and warnings for hazard-related decision-making by national authorities. It will also provide unique operational platform that enables common cross boarder standard operative procedures to support decision-making for Disaster Risk Reduction at all levels.

It will function as a cooperative platform where forecasters from up to 20 different countries can work together on the identification of potential hazards and their impacts, especially when these affect many countries.

"South-East Europe has experienced a significant number of severe meteorological and hydrological events in recent years," said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas at the launch of the new project in Zagreb, Croatia, on 5 October.

"Heavy rainfall has caused floods and landslides. Droughts have increased the incidence of forest fires. People have suffered under prolonged heat and cold waves. There have been severe thunderstorms and hailstorms. These natural hazards have had significant impacts: human lives have been lost, property and infrastructure damaged, and the functioning of key sectors impaired," said Mr Taalas.

"The South-East European Multi-Hazard Early Warning Advisory System builds on the outcomes of several recent projects in the region related to disaster risk reduction. It highlights the benefits of, and the need for, close regional cooperation because weather, climate and water respect no boundaries, " said Ivan Cacic, President of WMO's Regional Association for Europe and the Permanent Representative of Croatia to WMO.

"Frequency of weather and climate extremes is expected to rise significantly in the future. Heat waves, droughts and heavy precipitation will occur more often and become more devastating. This will increase a demand for improved early warning for communities under threat from such natural hazards as well as a need for more preparedness in those communities in order to improve their resilience," said Natasa Strelec Mahovic, Director of Croatia's Meteorological and Hydrological Service, DHMZ.

The project is funded by USAID and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and will be run with the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

The previous projects demonstrated that there is a need to strengthen regional cooperation in order to address gaps in forecasting and warning provision at the national and regional levels, particularly in trans-boundary areas.

The overall objectives of the project are:

  • Strengthened regional cooperation through leveraging of national, regional and global capacities to develop improved hydrometeorological forecasts, advisories and warnings, which will contribute to saving lives and reducing economic losses and damage
  • Strengthened national MHEWS systems by making regional and sub-regional observing, monitoring and forecasting tools and data available to the participating countries and other beneficiaries
  • To implement impact-based forecasts and risk-based warning capacities that contribute to better informed decision-making by national governments, disaster management authorities, humanitarian agencies, and NGOs
  • Harmonized forecasts and warnings among the NMHS's especially in trans-boundary areas of the region
  • Increased operational forecasting capabilities of NMHS's staff.

The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System's authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water


For further information contact:
Milan Dacic, WMO Representative for Europe. Email: mdacic@wmo.int or see-mhews-a@wmo.int
Natasa Strelec Mahovic, Director of DHMZ, Email: strelec@cirus.dhz.hr Mobile phone 385 (0) 99 2730 912.

More background available at http://public.wmo.int/en/projects/see-mhews-a