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WMO Stresses Need to Improve Services to Tackle Extreme Weather
Today (Tuesday) marks World Meteorological Day. As extreme weather remains a top threat to people's safety and welfare, the World Meteorological Organization, or WMO, stresses the need to help countries across the world better prepare for natural hazards.
Chen Zhe has more.
According to the latest figures released by the United Nations, more than 55 million people were affected by weather-related disasters in 2009, and over three-quarters of the people killed were due to extreme weather disasters.
Geoff Love, director of the Weather and Disaster Risk Reduction Services Department at the WMO, says the situation is challenging worldwide.
"With ever-rising population, we're finding more and more people in all countries are exposed to weather-related extreme events."
As far as preparedness is concerned, Love says it varies tremendously from country to country. While developing countries are traditionally-speaking much more vulnerable to natural hazards, Love says developed countries are not exempt from being victims of extreme weather conditions. he cites the unpreparedness of the U.S. in the face of Hurricane Katrina.
"Every disaster is unique and different. And I think that climate change issue as we find the extreme events have a different characteristic from the ones in the past. The European heat wave in 2003 was clearly an extreme event that caused 35,000 additional deaths. The communities had never experienced those high temperatures for that long in the big cities in Europe."
But he says it's always the case that developing nations suffer most in the face of natural disasters.
Love says special sessions on addressing the needs of Haiti are taking place at the ongoing Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems Workshop for Central America and the Caribbean in Costa Rica.
"Haiti is still an unfolding disaster, and with the wet season approaching, everybody is working hard to find ways to prevent further disaster. There are many lessons being learnt in China that will in fact be shared at the meeting."
Love says the world's early warning capacity is improving forecasts of major floods, tropical cyclones, blizzards and heat waves.
"But the next step is to make sure that from those good science-based forecasts, we deliver good services which help people make right decisions when they face an event. We need to improve the service delivery more than perhaps we need to improve forecast capability."
Love also notes preparedness involves all levels of governments, and coordination between these governments is vital to disaster mitigation.