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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 9:00 AM
Georgia Ballroom 1 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Peter J. Webster, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA; and V. E. Toma and K. Shrestha

In 2010 (1), 2011 (2) and 2012 (2, 3, 4), floods ravaged large sections of Pakistan claiming thousands of lives, destroying infrastructure and reducing resiliance, especially of the poor. But, as it turns out, the rainfall of each of these flooding events were predictable with high probability 8-10 days in advance. In mid-June of 2013 extensive rainfall occurred in northwest India centered in Uttarakhand State. The subsequent flooding drowned more than 5000 people many of whom were on pilgrimage providing the greatest disaster to India since the Indian Ocean tsunami. The ECMWF and GFS exhibited an even higher probability at 10-day lead time of intense rain rate than was forecast for the 2010-1012 Pakistan floods. We will discuss the synoptic situation of the very early monsoon rainfall in NW India and compare and contrast it with the intense rainfall events in the preceding years in Pakistan.

The use of global ensemble based numerical predictions, coupled with hydrological models integrated into a hazard warning system could at least have altered the people of Pakistan and NW India to peril. As has been shown in Bangladesh (3), a society that is advised in advance of an impending catastrophe can take mitigatory actions that allow, after the hazard has passed, a return to some normality, albeit reduced, rather than complete devastation. But a pressing issue is apparent: how can the extended probabilistic ECMWF VarEPS and NOAA GFS be communicated to less-developed nations and if they are communicated how can one persuade a nation to use these forecasts?(4)

(1) Webster P. J., V. E. Toma and H. M. Kim 2011: Were the 2010 Pakistan Floods predictable? Geophys. Res. Lettrs.,38, L04806, doi: 10.1029/2010GL046346

(2) Webster P. J., K. Y. Shrestha, 2013: An Extended-Range Water Management and Flood Prediction System for the Indus River Basin Application to the 2010-2012 floods: World Bank Report.

(3) Webster, P. J., J. Jian, T. M. Hopson, C. D. Hoyos, P. Agudelo, H-R. Chang, J. A. Curry, R. L. Grossman, T. N. Palmer, A. R. Subbiah 2010: Extended-range probabilistic forecasts of Ganges and Brahmaputra floods in Bangladesh. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 91, 11, 1493-1514

(4) Webster, P. J.: Improving weather forecasts for the developing world. Nature, 2013; doi: 10.1038/493017a