Grand Canyon National Park during a thunderstorm, Arizona
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Forecasting power. World Meteorological Day
Did you check the weather forecast today? Does it look like rain? Will it turn colder? What's the outlook for the weekend? These questions may seem commonplace, even mundane, but the answers can be of crucial importance. Given our reliance on weather prediction, let's tip the rain hat to the world's weather experts on World Meteorological Day, celebrated each March 23 by the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The 2022 theme for World Meteorological Day is 'Early Warning and Early Action. Hydrometeorological and Climate Information for Disaster Risk Reduction.' That's a mouthful, but it essentially boils down to the importance of predicting high-precipitation weather events and mitigating or preventing the damage caused by them.
Worldwide, floods cause more than $40 billion in damage each year. They're the most common type of natural disaster. In the United States flash floods claim more lives than tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning. But with accurate predictions and appropriate warning systems, people living in an area likely to flood can know the severity of upcoming threats and plan accordingly. Thanks to the study of hydrometeorology, forecasts can predict the impact days and even weeks in advance. Long-term projections can even give an idea of what's coming several months from now. And we thought that weather app was just to tell us whether we'll need an umbrella.