Severe Weather and Forecasting in the Czech Republic
Thunderstorms over the weekend left two people dead in Moravia, and many more injured. Severe weather has been occurring with some frequency in the Czech Republic this season, turning national attention to the accuracy of weather forecasts and the need to be able to alert residents of potentially dangerous weather. Helen Belmont has more.
Severe thunderstorms coupled with a tornado caused the two deaths and an estimated 1 million Czech crowns in property damage, the latest catastrophe in what has turned out to be an unusually violent summer. The two people were killed by falling trees, as winds of over 100 km per hour battered the southern Moravian area. Many people in the region were without electricity over the weekend as the winds destroyed power lines. This severe thunderstorm can hardly be regarded as an isolated case, as severe flooding has also plagued the eastern half of the Czech Republic in recent weeks.
There is some relief in sight, however. The Czech Republic has just completed negotiations with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, giving it access to the international organisations' super-computer weather database. The Centre was created by the European Economic Community to foster co-operation in areas of science and technology. It now consists of twenty-one European states which share information about weather forecasts derived from satellites, commercial aircraft, and weather balloons. I asked the Assistant Director, Dr. Austin Woods, what this would mean for the Czech Republic:
"We are now busily working to complete our high-speed telecommunications link from the computer system here in Reading into the computer system of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. This is the result of the co-operation agreement that came into force just on the first of August, a few days ago. And when this high-speed telecommunications link is established, then the Czech Republic will be able to receive absolutely all of the same forecast information that is available to now the other 21 European states that support us."
This forecast information would enable meteorologists in the Czech Republic to predict storms up to eight days ahead of time and with more accuracy than ever before. While the technology to be able to predict seasonal events, such as flooding, is still in experimental stages, this newest database will hopefully help to warn residents of impending severe weather.