Flood Hazard Management: British and International Perspectives

By John Handmer | Go to book overview

11

FLOOD WARNING DISSEMINATION: THE BRITISH EXPERIENCE

Dennis J. Parker

Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex Polytechnic


ABSTRACT

This paper discusses the development of flood forecasting and warning services in Britain where warning lead times are short. Despite the progressive improvement of forecasting capability flood warning 'failures' continue, largely because of weaknesses in the dissemination phase of the warning process which is briefly analysed using the Williams and Foster models. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons which are discussed, flood warning dissemination receives less attention than desirable. An evaluation of the flood warning dissemination practices in the Severn Trent Water Authority area is explained. This evaluation led to nine sets of recommendations for improving the Authority's flood warning dissemination practices.

Flood warning dissemination problems arise from institutional weaknesses as much as from technical obstacles. The reasons for flood warning 'failures' requires research in Britain perhaps focussing initially on consumer perceptions. Research is also required here into warning message wording and the effect of pre-flood publicity.


INTRODUCTION

Flood forecasting and warning services are well established in Britain even though warning lead times here are short. The rationale for public investment in flood forecasting and warning technology rests on the life-saving and damage-saving potential of warning services. Despite the progressive improvement of forecasting capability flood warning failures continue, often due to weaknesses in the dissemination phase of the warning process upon which rests the efficacy of the entire forecasting and warning system. However, for a variety of reasons, flood warning dissemination receives

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