Flood Forecasting Centre officially opened

The new Office Flood Forecasting Centre for England and Wales will be officially opened today by the Secretary of State for Environment. The Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC) has been created to forecast river and coastal flooding as well as extreme rainfall which may lead to flooding from surface water.

It will help provide earlier warnings of floods to local authorities and the emergency services, to give them more time to prepare for floods and reduce the risk of loss of life and damage to property. The new service will complement existing public flood warning arrangements from the Environment Agency and public weather warnings from the Met Office.

The creation of the centre is in response to a key recommendation of Sir Michael Pitt's Review into the summer 2007 floods. The FFC combines the Environment Agency's expertise in flood risk management and the Met Office's expertise in weather forecasting for the first time.

The Environment Agency's Chief Executive, Dr Paul Leinster, said: "The opening of the Flood Forecasting Centre marks the beginning of a new era for flood forecasting. "Using the latest technology and working with our partners from the Met Office, we will continue to improve our ability to forecast flooding as the impacts of climate change take hold. We can't stop flooding entirely, however the Flood Forecasting Centre will allow us to be even better prepared."

The Chief Executive of the Met Office, John Hirst said: "Climate change is increasingly influencing our weather. The Met Office has accelerated its programme of research and development to improve our ability to accurately forecast extreme and, quite often, localised rainfall.

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