The I-STORMS Guidelines for translating data and forecasts to early warning and intervention procedures are meant to be an effective tool for the improvement and efficiency of interventions in the case of coastal risk.
Operational guidelines concerning hydrogeological-hydraulic risk (and therefore, flood risk) have been defined in each partner country, although with some differences in the level of scientific-technological evolution of forecasting and observation systems, but regarding the sea storm risk no national procedures have been defined for risk and emergency management almost across all regions.
In drafting the Guidelines, risk assessment and flood risk management activities in the project partner regions were taken into account based on their European context, as well as the legislative references that represent the framework of the civil protection system.
The I-STORMS Guidelines are organised in accordance with the phases of the Floods Directive 2007/60/EC:
- “Prevention of risk due to sea storms” concerns non-structural actions, that correspond to regulatory and administrative measures envisaged for the reduction of coastal risk and which may regulate land use, but they do not involve the construction or maintenance of works or the modification of the state of these work places.
- “Protection from sea storms” refers to structural actions representing interventions that involve the construction or maintenance of works or the modification of the land cover morphology.
- “Preparation for risk due to sea storms” refers to the early warning systems (including forecasting systems and communication procedures) and the emergency management procedures (also exercises and information to the population) and represents the most significant part of the Guidelines.
- “Post-evaluation event and reconstruction” concerns procedures and tools available to estimate the impacts from sea storms events and measures adopted for restoration after a sea storm event that has caused damage.
Actions and recommendations have been included in the Guidelines for each phase, in particular with regard to communication.
Coastal risk, and in particular sea storms risk, has not been defined officially within nation specific Directives in the same way as the hydrogeological-hydraulic risk has been; but forecasts and response to coastal events are of a different kind than continental storms and flood events, for this reason specialised and specific action plans for coastal areas are needed.
The risk management strategies and plans to reduce damage due to sea storms are issues that must be managed and coordinated at a national level, even if they have local peculiarities that must be studied in depth and addressed depending on the specific situation.
In order to improve the cooperation and promote the exchange of knowledge and data, it is also important to set up a permanent Network of all relevant actors from the countries of the ADRION area exposed to sea storm risk (like the one set up in the I-STORMS project) and to establish thematic working groups focused on tools, plans and good practices for coastal risk management.
To overcome the lack of integrated data and information, it is essential to establish formats and tools for collecting data, information, damage reports that should be standardized and available before and during the events. Data sharing must be coordinated centrally and must cover all levels of the system (local, regional, national). It is important to avoid the duplication of information and to create standardized and integrated databases between the Adriatic-Ionian regions to expand the analysis and comparison of coastal events at a basin scale.
For effective Early Warning Systems for sea storms it is necessary to have online weather, marine and coastal observation networks and share real time data between the countries along the Adriatic Sea; it is also a requirement to have weather, marine and coastal forecasts available (also expressed in probability or forecast reliability) and high quality and reliable forecasts of sea level for citizens and protection services. Starting from these data and from these forecasts, early warning procedures based on thresholds and predefined scenarios are needed.
Public/Institutional bodies that issue the alerts must increase the public awareness about forecasting and alerting systems and strengthen their role as responsible for issuing alerts and for communication. Institutional sources that are recognized and perceived as reliable, in particular those closest to the local level, should give all clear and useful information to the citizens.
Information on these issues is essential and should start from schools with specific training.
Alert Messages to the public and communication among all players belonging to the alert system must be, at the same time, as quick as possible (reaching the addressee in the fastest way and avoiding bureaucratic and administrative obstacles) and “certified” in order to have a legal validity. Communication protocols have to be identified and used to satisfy these requirements.
The opportunity to involve stakeholders in the management and communication of sea storm risk is recognized as fundamental, in particular Civil Protection associations, port authorities, beach managers, cooperatives and other sea-related activities, schools and all potential stakeholders in the tourism sector.
Civil Protection volunteers are a fundamental and important resource for event monitoring and emergency management, hence they must be supported, strengthened and enlarged. Such a complex system, that implies the alerting and emergency management, needs a lot of human and instrumental resources. It is thus necessary to think about how to strengthen the system and expand the availability of volunteers.
Finally, it is important that the alert and intervention procedures for sea storms risk, once they have been defined, should be tested through exercises, that help to test in a practical way the alerting and emergency management system, highlighting criticalities and keeping people and institutional players trained and up to date.
The completed Document of the I-STORMS Guidelines is available below: