In order to tackle the work load problem, a severe weather forecasting program has been tested at FMI since January 2005. Currently, seven Warning Weather Service forecasters are involved in the program. One extra forecaster is in duty every weekday and he or she will work in the weather room, as long as needed, up to from 9 AM to 9 PM. The main objectives of the program are to provide emergency authorities and other forecasters with information on severe weather risk 0-48 h before the event hits and to improve operational severe weather warnings. The program also aims to improve forecasting tools together with the developers and to learn more on severe weather forecasting in and around Finland. The main means of communication is a severe weather outlook issued by the preparedness forecaster. The outlook typically contains a picture of the area at risk and a written severe weather outlook.
The preparedness forecasters have acted as test users for several new nowcasting tools. During the summer 2006 they tested two Vaisala lightning tracking softwares, a hydrometeor classification algorithm and a meteorological workstation extension which makes possible to overlay real-time storm damage reports from the emergency response centers with meteorological data. Since 2005, a sounding tool with hodographs, numerous convection parameters and fully adjustable temperature and moisture profiles has also been tested.