April 18, 2014 15:39 UTC

Science & Technology

Experts Work to Develop Better Tools to Predict Severe Weather

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A surfer rides a wave whipped up by Tropical Storm Isaac at Haulover Beach Park in Miami Beach, Florida.A surfer rides a wave whipped up by Tropical Storm Isaac at Haulover Beach Park in Miami Beach, Florida.
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A surfer rides a wave whipped up by Tropical Storm Isaac at Haulover Beach Park in Miami Beach, Florida.
A surfer rides a wave whipped up by Tropical Storm Isaac at Haulover Beach Park in Miami Beach, Florida.

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This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.

America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is celebrating the one year anniversary of its Weather-Ready Nation project. Weather experts from across the United States have been working to improve the way the country reacts to extreme weather. They say scientific progress has made weather forecasts, or predictions, better than ever. But, they say the cost of severe weather on life and property is still too high.

NOAA says a new generation of equipment has already made its global numerical weather prediction system nearly three times faster in the past seven months. This is expected to improve NOAA’s forecast models.

Scientists and weather experts have launched a similar effort in the Philippines. It is called Project NOAH -- the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards.

Mahar Lagmay is the head of Project NOAH. He says his country needs high-resolution imaging to predict when and where natural disasters will strike.

“To be able to construct hazard maps you need very high resolution topography.  To do the simulations of floods you do need high resolution topography.” 

He also says these images will be used to create smaller area maps, which will shape how people react to natural disasters.

“By doing local scale, or community scale maps, people can relate with the problem because they see their houses, they see their neighbor’s houses, the bridge in their community, the river in their community in relation to the hazards - the flood hazards in particular.”

Geologist Carlos Primo David also works with Project NOAH. He says the group depends on satellites, Doppler radar and hundreds of rain gauges across the country. He says the resulting forecasts are very detailed, and can even predict the intensity of rainfall.

The Philippine state weather agency used rainfall information from Project NOAH when Manila flooded in August. The weather agency also re-broadcast its warnings on the social networking website Twitter. And a color coded warning system was also put in place.

Mahar Lagmay says the project passed its first test. He says the government used the information to move people to safety.

“Relatively it was successful because what we wanted to avoid was mass death.”

He says now the government has to get people to take severe weather events more seriously, and to actively prepare for the worst.
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by: banghuyen from: Vietnam
10/05/2012 9:08 AM
Natural disasters have been always the biggest concern of the society, whether they are floods, typhoons or fire because of their huge destroyability. The use of satellites, especially the polar ones, and other equipments such as Doppler radars, upper-air sounding and observation network together with super computers and numerical models has been making a big progress in warning disaster, keeping human and property save from mother nature anger. I wish we will have such systems working in Vietnam soon.


by: Erkhsoyorkhuun from: Mongolia and India
10/04/2012 4:27 PM
Thanks for VOA. I gonna try to learn english by best. I think what I should do is to write letter to others who study english language. By doing this, we will be able to improve your language. Let me leave my e-mail that is soo_ife_edu_mn@yahoo.com. if someone would add me and send letter, I'd be grateful. Please drop me line


by: Maurizio from: Italy
10/03/2012 1:58 PM
I think we are already at the good level even if everything can reach amazing features.
Spread of knowledge that we already know is mandatory : people must to know before what can happens and what they have to do in emergency situation. In 2004 Tsunami in Indian Ocean was predicted and monitored some hour before but many people died because they did not know what was a tsunami or due to an alarm and emergency procedures that do not exist.


by: TKY from: Chiba, Japan
10/02/2012 4:37 PM
After the last year's worst earthquake on 11 March, I cannot help recognizing again the importance of prepare for disaster. Starting the conducts from happenning something is even later for saving. So in these imformation network era, it can be said scientists play many parts in nation's safety.


by: Anonymous
10/02/2012 4:21 AM
In my country, weather prediction is not good enough. Many people has died because the prediction is inaccurate.


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
10/01/2012 3:47 PM
Now a days weather prediction has become a risky affair. Predicting the weather accurately has become a rough and tough job. Scientists' attempt to predict weather accurately is a good sign of progress. Thank you.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
10/01/2012 8:25 AM
I pay great respect to NOA for its continuous works functioning effectively in predicting hazards on ocean and atmosphere sinse founded by ex-president Nixon in nineteen seventy. In Japan, it is argued whether the forcast of breaking out of earthquakes and eruption of volcanos should be continued in responsible agencies because its precisness of predictrion begins to be questioned after the March 11 disaster of last year. Anyway, it seems out of question that prediction of geological and meteological hazards remains not easy even with modern advanced tools.