28 luglio 2016

The National warning system

The operating scheme of the network of Functional Centres

1. The network of Functional Centres performs forecasting, monitoring, and surveillance activities through the integration of available meteorological and hydrological modeling with advanced technological tools such as the National radar network, satellite images, quantitative data from sensors spread across the country (e.g., rain gauges measuring the actual amount of rainfall on land, hydrometers to monitor river levels, anemometers for wind speed etc.) and other more qualitative information (such as direct observation following a site visit).  

2. About ground effects, this information is divided by homogeneous territorial areas belonging to the same river basin and named Alert Zones. This is because weather events and the consequent ground effects vary significantly from place to place. The same phenomenon (for example, heavy rain) will tend to have different ground effects depending on the area's specific characteristics. 

3. According to forecasts, monitoring, and surveillance activities, the network of Functional Centres assesses the expected risk scenarios for each Alert Zone. The evaluation is based on comparing the predicted phenomena and a set of reference thresholds. Thresholds are nothing more than a system of values (e.g., millimeters of rain expected in a given period) that, based on the specifics of each Alert Zone, make it possible to forecast the possible consequences on the territory and the related impact on the population. The danger to people or property of these possible consequences is expressed by the level of criticality, which can be divided into ordinary, moderate, and high criticality. It is worth mentioning that the same expected weather phenomenon may correspond to different levels of criticality depending on the Alert Zone affected. For example, the forecast of heavy rainfall over an area at risk of landslides or flooding will correspond to a high criticality level. At the same time, this may not necessarily happen in an area not involved in the same type of risk. 

4. As a result of the criticality evaluations issued by the network of Functional Centres ( in specific, the evaluation is carried out by the decentralized Functional Centres when activated or present and only otherwise by the Central Functional Centre), the Region is responsible for matching an anticipated level of criticality with an appropriate level of alert. The warning of the civil protection system is the duty of the President of the Region or his delegated person according to procedures defined independently and, for this reason, different from Region to Region. Warning activates the civil protection structures both before the event and during and can vary from a simple availability of staff to implementing an emergency plan. Then, it is the mayor, alerted by the Region, who, based on the peculiarities of his territory (presence of areas at risk), activates the measures foreseen in his plan and informs the population (including, for example, on the measures he intends to implement, such as banning the passage of bridges or closing schools).