Flood Guidance Statement

Flood Forecasting Centre Web, Mapping

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The Flood Guidance Statement (FGS) is produced by the Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC), a joint initiative between the Environment Agency (EA) and Met Office. The FFC was set up following the Pitt Review into the flooding that hit the UK in 2007. One of the Pitt Review’s 92 recommendations was that ‘the EA and Met Office should work together, through a joint centre, to improve their technical capability to forecast, model and warn against all sources of flooding’.

The FGS is a document that details the flood risk for a variety of sources of flooding and is issued on a daily basis to Civil Contingency Act (CCA) Category 1 and 2 emergency responders. The system first came online in early 2009 and has proved itself to be a robust and reliable tool, most recently handling the creation of multiple FGSs throughout the flooding that affected England and Wales in early 2014.

The FFC required a website-based solution to enable them to set flood risk levels at county level across several days and for additional textual information to accompany these.

Users of the website are able to create the entire FGS document for dissemination. The document consists of thematic mapping of England and Wales, textual description of the flood risk forecast, an optional uploaded image detailing areas of particular concern and data collated from various online resources. These data include severe weather alerts and warnings from the Met Office Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed and flood warnings and alerts from the EA Flood Warning ‘widget’.

Mapping controls enable users to attribute any given county with a variety of information simply by drawing a polygon on screen. Counties can be attributed with an overall flood risk, source(s) of flood risk as well as values relating to the likelihood and impact level of the flooding forecast for the county. In creating the FGS, an eXtended Markup Language (XML) file is also created and transmitted to the EA where the contents are displayed on their website as the three day flood forecast.

With the system we’ve created, the FFC is able to produce its Flood Guidance Statement on a daily, or even more frequent, basis from any location. Each day’s FGS ‘remembers’ the previous day’s and so the production time is reduced where text or selections have not changed from one forecast to the next. All forecasts are recorded and kept so that forecast performance can be assessed and accuracy increased through regular review.

For information on this project, contact Roger Winterbottom on 01756 699500.