NOAA 99-080
Contact: Susan Weaver


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's FY 2000 budget includes $1 million for implementation of the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, an advanced river forecast initiative that will help protect lives and property, as well as contribute to the nation's economy, the Commerce Department agency said today.

"AHPS is an essential component of the National Weather Service's suite of weather, water and climate services," said John J. Kelly Jr., director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "National implementation of AHPS will save lives and an estimated $200 million per year in flood losses and an additional $400 million per year in economic benefits to water resource users."

AHPS will significantly improve river forecasts and management in the United States by providing new information, including visual displays, which will assist local managers in making decisions on water management. New products will depict the magnitude and uncertainty of river flow events forecasted from days to weeks in the future. The system includes a combination of software and hardware tools used for analyzing data and creating graphical displays of probability forecasts. AHPS builds upon NOAA's other modern technologies, such as Doppler weather radars, satellites, supercomputers, weather observation stations, and the new interactive weather computer and communications system known as the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System.

Following the Great Flood of 1993 in the Midwest, the Des Moines River Basin was selected as the initial AHPS demonstration site, which proved to be a significant
benefit to local water resource and emergency managers. During FY 2000, the agency
will begin to implement AHPS in the upper Midwest, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and portions of Iowa, Missouri and North Dakota, and tributaries within the Ohio River basin, including Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

"River forecasting is critical to public safety," declared Kelly. "In an average year, more than 130 people are killed by flooding and flash flooding, and flood-related damages exceed $3.5 billion. AHPS provides more information than current forecasts; as a result, people will have more time to plan to protect themselves and their property."

Agency officials said the system can also be of tremendous value to water managers in planning for possible droughts. Users will obtain graphical products for forecast periods several months in the future, and will be better able to make informed decisions.