Flood warnings

I’ve argued that flood warnings help to mitigate flood damage. I’ve also worried that nothing much has changed since last year. One thing did change, though: We’ve signed up to the European flood warning system (see Examiner). Progress! But why weren’t we last year?

15 replies on “Flood warnings”

@Richard – is there any evidence that there’s more frequent flooding ‘events’ in the world today (or is it a simply a case of we get to hear about it more these days thanks to the power of the interweb thing)?

… and if there is more, what’s thought to be the cause of that?

But why weren’t we last year?

The direct answer that I have from someone who knows such things is that it takes quite some time to get into that scheme, due to excessive bureaucracy. Given that serious flooding prevention efforts in this country have just been starting up in the past couple of years…

Rainfall over most of Ireland to date for 2010 is running at half the level of 2009. But last year we were warned that the November floods were due to climate change and a taste of worse to come.

Yes, why not last year? If my understanding is correct, the data they had available would have allowed ample time to act, warnings could have been much more efficient and the total cost and suffering reduced.

Why we did not sign up… Ignorance perhaps?

I think so.

@Antoin – presumably you only get a phone call if you pay your membership fee.

In any case there is an EU-Floods Directive that requires Member States to “assess if all water courses and coast lines are at risk from flooding, to map the flood extent and assets and humans at risk in these areas and to take adequate and coordinated measures to reduce this flood risk.” see
Of course as with all these Directives it takes some time to get action – preliminary work must be carried out by 2011.

EFAS is paid by DG Research. The costs of such projects are always shared between the Commission and the Member States. Some information is public (http://floods.jrc.ec.europa.eu/efas-flood-forecasts — no flood risk on the Suir for the next 4 days, less than 10% thereafter), some information is only available to people who contributed.

That may be a bit harsh in this case, but it is the only way to prevent free-riding.

Ireland’s contribution to DG Research is coordinated by Enterprise Ireland (Imelda Lambkin). This research theme has been delegated to the EPA (Brian Donlon).

The buck does not stop with Drs Donlon and Lambkin, but it does start there: It’s their job to know about this project.


A bit harsh? This was the technological sales/fundraising opportunity of the decade and they blew it.

I am beginning to understand why they say that Europe finds it so difficult to turn scientific research into commercial projects.

Not alone did they not warn of flooding, they did not warn of a clear credit bubble!

Why withhold information that can literally save lives? Who took these decisions to suppress findings?

Does the EU and ECB consider the spirit of FOI to be governed by the letter?

Protection rackets become more easy to sell to those who pay, if the consequences are so clearly set out as eg predictions. How do we know just how true this report is?

I can’t understand why the EU has any relevance in our case.
No significant N.I river runs into the RoI except for the Erne.
As so often we are the masters of our own incompetence.

Of course it is unbelievable that flood prediction in Ireland is so underdeveloped. Prof. Jim Dooge, who died recently, was a world wide pioneer in flood routing (which he always pronounced in the American fashion which suggested a military triumph over the natural event) and lectured to approximately 30 years of civil engineers on the topic.

I can’t be the only person who understood the techniques.

@Maurice O’Leary:
“No significant N.I river runs into the RoI except for the Erne.”

You forget the Shannon, which (for the Water Framework Directive) is in an International River Basin District.


@Brian J Goggin
One might be forgiven for overlooking a a small portion of County Fermanagh that drains underground to the Shannon Pot.

I did however forget the Foyle for which I apologise wholeheartedly to the good people of Donegal.

@Maurice O’Leary:
“One might be forgiven for overlooking a a small portion of County Fermanagh […].”

Not when JtO’s around, you won’t be, but I’ll hold your coat.


It is indeed hard to fathom that a generic, pan-European model run near Milan could beat a bespoke model for the island of Ireland run in Belfast, Cork or Dublin — but it is the case.

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