Oman – New Flash Flood Alert System to Launch

A new flash flood alert system is set to launch in Oman in July this year.

The Oman flash flood guidance system will assist forecasters in their efforts to provide reliable and timely flash flood watches and warnings in order to help save lives and reduce economic losses.

It has been specifically designed to accommodate the unique characteristics of flash floods, notably the short time scales and small spatial scales.

A spokesperson from Oman’s National Meteorological Service, Directorate General of Meteorology (DGMet) said:

“Flash floods are among the most devastating of natural disasters. It is essential that flash flood warnings be formulated quickly, with as much detail regarding timing and location as possible.

“As significant rainfall events may cover large areas, this information may be needed for multiple basins at once. This is a very challenging situation for forecasters and some type of guidance is necessary to organize the real-time data and information from multiple sources into easily usable and interpretable products, which are amenable to operational modification in a timely manner.”

Many areas of Oman are prone to flash flooding, especially in the wadis or seasonal rivers. Short bursts of heavy rain falling on dry, hard ground often runs quickly to fill the wadis. Wadis are often used as roads during dry periods, making flash floods a particular danger for motorists.

In October 2015, at least 7 people died in flash floods in northern areas of Oman.

In order to better warn the country’s population, the new system aims to make the most of all available data.

“The system will integrate the latest developments in monitoring capabilities, such as satellite derived precipitation, radar technology, ground-station data, with the most recent advances in numerical weather prediction modeling. It will use all of the different data sources to predict what will happen on landscape with respect to soil moisture and other important features that generate flash floods.”

The system is still under trial, but progress has been pleasing and feedback positive.

“So far the preliminary tests show promising results for the stakeholders and the general community,” DGMet said.