Design and evaluation of a community and impact-based site-specific early warning system

The recent extreme rain events in Spain, such as the Gloria storm, have highlighted the gaps in emergency communication, especially the disconnection between the available impact-based early warning systems (IBEWS) and the measures carried out by communities during emergencies.

This article presents a community-centered framework called a "site-specific early warning system" (SS-EWS) to jointly design and co-evaluate with communities an IBEWS for vulnerable locations within high-risk areas.

The components of the framework guide communities to identify and evaluate local impacts; establish impact and assessment tables; derivation of rain thresholds based on the impact and alert levels; and the SS-EWS configuration with radar-based numerical weather prediction (NWP) models.

A first implementation and evaluation of the SS-EWS has been carried out in a public school, two fords and in the city of Terrassa, Barcelona, ​​Spain. The SS-EWS shows promising results in triggering location-based or site-specific warnings compatible with reported impacts and proposing actions to reduce local risk. In addition, the combination of the NWP and the immediate radar-based prediction improved the ability of the SS-EWS to monitor the evolution of precipitation and capture intense rains. SS-EWS can be a simple and profitable complement to the regional EWS to increase the preparedness of the communities.