Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A Key Point We've Learned From Germany's Flood Experience

Yet several public [agencies] are under pressure to explain why so many people remained in their homes despite the forecasts of extreme rainfall and flood alerts that pinpointed most of the crisis areas at least 36 hours before the disaster.

As indicated above, there are major political repercussions in Germany that pertain to last week's flooding. The story is here

Evidently, there weather forecasts and storm warnings were excellent. But, there is an insight as to what might have gone wrong buried in the story:

Armin Schuster, 60, president of the BBK, said the national warning systems had worked well, issuing more than 150 alerts through the agency’s apps, although they have only been downloaded by about 9 million of Germany’s 83 million people. 

What Mr. Schuster is describing is a passive warning system where warning messages have to be downloaded. That is a recipe for failure. Warnings for tornadoes, tsunamis, flash floods and other urgent life-threatening storm warnings should always be active -- an alarm of some sort gets the users attention and the warning message is right there for viewing -- without any other action by the user. 

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