FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Curtis Carey
NOAA's National Weather Service today agreed to work with the weather agency for Vietnam to provide advanced weather models and other scientific expertise to help strengthen its ability to predict, warn and manage river and coastal floods caused by tropical storms.
After a signing ceremony in Washington to announce the agreement, the National Weather Service and Vietnam's Hydro-Meteorological Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Technical Cooperation in Meteorology and Hydrology, which allows the two nations to exchange scientific resources, technical knowledge and weather forecast services.
Under the agreement, the United States and Vietnam expect to:
Today's signing follows a November 2000 White House announcement outlining U.S. support for disaster preparedness and prevention in Vietnam. The investment includes $1.4 million to help create a coastal warning system to alert fishing boats at sea and a radio-based system that will use U.S. technology to broadcast weather information to boaters listening on low-cost radios.
Vietnam's Red River Delta region is vulnerable to river flooding, tidal effects and storm surges from tropical systems moving across the South China Sea. The current warning system in Hanoi provides an average of 12 hours notice of a threatening flood event. However, once Vietnamese forecasters incorporate the U.S. river forecast models, the warning lead time is expected to increase to 36 hours.
"The last El Niño event [1997-98] impacted a broad cross-section of the South East Asian economy," said Department of Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. "Improved climate forecasting will help reduce some of the impacts Vietnam faces from floods and drought."
Each year, Vietnam, a nation of 74 million, endures an average of five tropical storms, bringing torrential rains and floods. In November 1999, a tropical depression swelled the nation's Central Vietnam river, causing widespread flooding in seven provinces, and in November 1997, a tropical storm pushed sea water into the Mekong Delta, resulting in severe flooding.
"Vietnam's location along the South China Sea offers the U.S. scientific community a unique vantage point to study monsoon activity and help find answers to other weather/climatic questions." said NOAA Administrator D. James Baker.
Retired Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of the National Weather Service, said, "Both countries have much to offer each other about the understanding of weather, water and climate. This agreement will benefit both parties and help save more lives from the deadly consequences of flooding."
NOTE TO MEDIA: For more on the National Weather Service's international activities, visit http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ia/home.htm