The Finnish Meteorological Institute has relaunched the development of its LUOVA early-warning system for natural disasters. The project was first mooted in late 2004 in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami, but owing to problems with funding its implementation has been delayed.
The emphasis differs somewhat from the original plan in that the weight is on the prediction of natural hazards and disasters within Finland. Initially it had been intended as a tool concentrating more on matters outside this country.
The work would focus on developing the ability to predict such things as urban flash floods, for example like those that hit Pori in August 2007.
In practice the warning centre would work such that the FMI’s own 24/7 weather service would also monitor other natural phenomena and hazards.
The development work on an early-warning centre would be directed via several ministries, and the actual implementation would be in the hands of the FMI, the Finnish Environment Institute, the Finnish Institute of Marine Research, and the University of Helsinki.
The aim is that all the new services would be in use by 2010.
Shortly after the tsunami struck the countries of the Indian Ocean and the Andaman Sea on December 26th 2004, a working party led by former President Martti Ahtisaari proposed a warning system that would supply information rapidly to the authorities and the public in the case of natural catastrophes.
Many Finnish holidaymakers died in Thailand, and there was a good deal of debate over the tardiness of the government response to the disaster.
No funding was found for the venture in the budget proposals for 2006. This year the Ministry of Transport and Communications has agreed to invest EUR 40,000 in reviving the project, though future funding remains open.