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2 December 2013

 

Typhoon Committee Workshop Focuses on Haiyan

The impact and implications of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) will be reviewed at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) / World Meteorological Organization Typhoon Committee Integrated Workshop on “Forecasting, Warning and Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies in the Mitigation of Tropical Cyclone Impact in a Multi-Hazard Environment” from 2 to 6 December 2013.

“This workshop is taking place at a time when the world’s attention has been drawn to the severe disasters brought about by the very strong typhoon Haiyan, which passed across the centre of The Philippines with an impact that was unprecedented in the history of that country, “ said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a message to the workshop.

“Typhoon Haiyan is the fifth named tropical cyclone that has made landfall in The Philippines this year. It crossed an area already devastated by a strong earthquake about one month before. It created a tsunami-like storm surge that the people of The Philippines had never encountered before,” he said.

The typhoon was the strongest of the year and one of most intense on record when it hit the Philippines 8 November before weakening slightly as it approached Viet Nam.

More than 5,000 people were killed. But the loss of life would have been even greater without an extraordinary mobilization of the meteorological and disaster risk reduction community.

The Philippines national meteorological service, PAGASA, issued regular wind speed and storm-surge warnings about the typhoon. For its part, Viet Nam appealed to WMO for technical assistance. WMO’s emergency response team in coordination  with the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre Tokyo Typhoon Centre, the China Meteorological Administration, the Hong Kong Observatory, and the National Hydrometeorological Service of Viet Nam  was very effective in supporting targeted mitigation and preparedness actions by the Government of Viet Nam. 

“As a result, the losses and damages suffered by Viet Nam due to Typhoon Haiyan were minimal and this should be credited to the accurate forecasts, early warnings and early warning systems of the Members, as well as to the excellent synergy among all the actors involved,” said Mr Jarraud.

Model for Action

Mr Jarraud said this special emergency response could provide a model for future actions and also demonstrated that solidarity within the WMO community can make a major difference when it comes to protecting people and property in the face of tropical cyclones and other natural disasters.

“Despite this successful experience, there are lessons to learn for ensuring a faster response to requests for special technical assistance from Members.  In the future, these may become more frequent, as climate change is expected to cause extreme weather events to occur with increased frequency and intensity,” said Mr Jarraud. 

An initial analysis of the experiences from emergency response efforts shows the need for a standard operating procedure to be established in the WMO Secretariat, in cooperation with Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres and Members.  There is also a need to develop a clear, concise and comprehensive checklist of guidelines for inclusion in the standard operating procedures as recommendations to Members for urgent action, said Mr Jarraud.

Two projects, the Severe Weather Forecasting Demonstration Project and the Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project, are being implemented in this region.  They aim to meet the need for improved forecasts and warnings of severe weather and coastal inundations, including those associated with tropical cyclones.  All of these mechanisms and projects serve to enhance the capabilities and capacities of WMO Members to minimize losses and damages caused by severe weather systems.

The Typhoon Committee workshop in Macau will also consider how to transition advances in tropical cyclone research into operational services; and to develop a standard procedure of synergy among meteorological, hydrological and disaster risk reduction communities to work together against disasters associated with tropical cyclones with multi-hazard approaches. Its recommendations from the workshop will inform deliberations at the next Typhoon Committee session scheduled in February 2014.

The Western North Pacific basin has had an active tropical cyclone season this year, The total number of named tropical cyclones so far in this year is 31, above the annual average of 25.6 (1981 – 2010 base period).

 

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