Severe weather outlooks and their use for damage prevention and civil protection in Finland
Ari-Juhani Punkka, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland; and J. Rauhala
A severe weather forecasting program was established in 2005 at the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). One of the goals of this program is to enhance co-operation with other authorities and offer them detailed information on coming severe weather events. Therefore, since the beginning of the program the FMI has started issuing severe weather outlooks for rescue authorities.
During the five-year period 2005–2009, a yearly average of 76 outlooks were issued for 38 different weather situations. The most common reasons to issue outlooks were downbursts, heavy snowfalls, severe synoptic-scale winds and heavy rain. The frequency of outlooks has been the highest during late summer, early fall and early winter. These peaks correspond well with times when rescue services have had the majority of their annual weather-related rescue missions.
In order to shed light on the use of severe weather outlooks and outlook user satisfaction, a user survey was performed in March 2010. According to the survey results, the majority of the respondents (74%) were satisfied with the outlook lead times. The first outlook was on average issued with a 16 h lead time. Most of the outlook users were able to react to the outlooks within a few hours and for three fourths of the respondents even a one-hour lead time is enough for implementing certain measures.
The most common performed actions based on the outlooks were checking the state of equipment, re-scheduling work shifts, calling in extra personnel and informing colleagues on the expected severe weather. A clear majority (75%) of the respondents assessed that the outlooks eased to cope with difficult weather situations. The main reason for this improvement was the longer preparation time, which offered the possibility to re-arrange work shifts and allowed better internal communication within rescue organizations. Two thirds of the respondents reported that the outlooks improved the quality of their services, which has had a positive effect on society's ability to recover from harsh weather conditions. Moreover, many respondents told that the availability of severe weather outlooks likely shortened disruption times in electricity supply and road traffic and probably decreased the amount of material damage and injuries.
Extended Abstract (116K)
Session 4B, Forecasting Techniques and Warning Decision Making: Short-Range Forecasting I
Monday, 11 October 2010, 4:30 PM-6:00 PM, Grand Mesa Ballroom D
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