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Flood Forecasting Centre opens

May 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm

The UK’s first Flood Forecasting Centre was officially opened last month, as a result of the enquiry headed by Sir Michael Pitt into the devastation caused by the floods of summer 2007. The centre is a joint venture between the Environment Agency and the Met Office and aims to allow the two agencies to work together to provide early warnings for local authorities and the emergency services.

Prior to this new initiative, the Environment Agency was responsible for monitoring rivers at risk of flooding and the Met Office was responsible for providing information on rainfall. The new centre will have responsibility for forecasting not only river and coastal flooding but also surface flooding caused by unusually excessive rainfall.

Climate change was cited by spokesmen for both the Environment Agency and the Met Office as a leading contributor to the increased risk of flooding in the UK and, while this cannot be entirely prevented, an early warning system should minimise risk of loss of lives and damage to property. In the floods of June and July 2007 13 people died and 44,600 homes were flooded.

The centre, which has cost over £10 million, will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is situated in Farringdon in London. Twenty six people work there, including weather forecasters and hydrologists.

The Pitt Review has also been responsible for £15 million being given to local councils to fund flood management. Much of the devastation caused by the 2007 floods could have been avoided had local authorities been better prepared.

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