EFAS issues timely warning of Po river flood
On Friday, 24 April, a flood warning for the river Po in northern Italy was issued by the European Flood Alert System (EFAS). EFAS, which is currently under development and hosted by the JRC's Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES), sent the flood alert to the regional water authorities (ARPA-SIM, Emilia-Romana), national partner organisations and the Italian Environment and Protection Institute (Instituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale). The system forecasted a high probability of flooding for the Po from 27 April onwards with a peak of the flood wave between the 28th and 29th. The EFAS alert was thus sent 4-5 days in advance, which confirms the system's potential as and effective early warning system.
From 24 April onwards, the Italian partners were able to follow the forecasts, which are updated every 12 hours, on the EFAS password-protected website.
EFAS has been undergoing development and testing at JRC-IES in Ispra since 2003 and has been running pre-operationally for the whole of Europe since 2005. The aim of EFAS is to inform the national hydrological services and the European Commission of the probabilities of flood occurrences more than 3 days in advance.
In order to do this, twice daily the system receives and processes 120 meteorological forecasts which are used to produce flood probability maps on a European scale. The National hydrological services can log on to the EFAS webpage at any time, but also receive alert messages if the river basin for which they are responsible is judged to be at risk of flooding. The EFAS partner network now comprises 24 actors, each of whom have confirmed the benefits of receiving information from a different source in addition to their own local monitoring and forecasting systems when faced with decisions on potential flood warnings.
For the ongoing Po flood, the first EFAS forecast indicating a high risk of flooding in the Po was seen as early as 22 April. However, EFAS typically sends out an alert only if forecasts are consistent for at least 1-2 days.