One of the main aims of WCSSP Southeast Asia is to develop the capacity of institutions in Southeast Asia to issue timely, accurate warnings of high impact weather.
Despite forecasters in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia following protocol, high impact weather in the countries has often resulted in loss of life and property. After Typhoon Mangkhut in September 2018, the chief forecaster at the National Meteorological Service in the Philippines, noted that they followed all the correct procedures and issued warnings as early as they could. Despite this, some of the public did not react to the warnings. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported a total of 82 deaths, 138 injured and two missing. Most of the casualties were attributed to landslide incidences caused by prolonged heavy rain. This highlights the need for improved forecasting of high intensity rainfall, and for warnings that clearly highlight potential impacts to society and vulnerable communities.

Through WCSSP Southeast Asia, experiences in the UK of successfully implementing an impact-based forecasting system are being shared with researchers and forecasters across Southeast Asia. Some of the project’s activities include:

  • Delivering training to scientists and operational forecasters in Southeast Asia. Currently over 200 people have received training.
  • Encouraging the use of ensemble forecasting which can give the forecaster a better idea of how likely a particular weather event will be and reduces the uncertainty of a forecast.
  • Developing new tools and visualisations to aid forecasters. One called FOREST allows forecasters to visualise the forecast output together with real-time observations. The tool enables the global science community to solve new problems more quickly, for the benefit of forecasters around the world.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) who are responsible for issuing weather forecasts in the Philippines, have been piloting a web-based visualisation tool for Metro Manila.

A colour-coded map enables disaster managers and the public to visualise the specific areas that are affected by yellow, amber or red warnings.

All project partners are working collaboratively on a best practice handbook for forecasters which will bring together information from the activities and training. Each country is working on their own tailored version to represent the main weather hazards and priorities in that country.