Heavy rains and flash floods in the Sinai (Egypt) have left at least seven people dead. The flood has damaged houses, roads, electricity lines, several harbours and the airport of Sharm-El-Sheikh. It has been the worst flash flood since 1994.
A positive element though is that the flash flood has been predicted two days in advance, by a computer-based flash flood early warning system. The early warning resulted in extra time to take action an spread the news for the competent authorities. Consequently, in the pilot test area around Nuweiba city (Wadi Watier, about 10.000 km²), no casualties have been reported. The early warning system allows to forecast the amount, timing and location of rainfall. Based on this simulation, the risk for flash floods is calculated and if needed, a warning is send to the competent Crisis and Disaster Management Centre.
The early warning system has been developed under the FlaFloM project by a Belgian-Egyptian team. The team consists of the Egyptian Water Resources Research Insititute (WRRI), the Belgian consultancy company SORESMA and the Free University of Brussels. The project has been developed in close collaboration with Prof. Dr. Gamal Salah El-Afandi (Al Azhar University, Cairo), the South Sinai Crisis and Disaster Management Centre and the municipality of Nuweiba City. The contract for the pilot area around Nuweiba City has a value of 800,000 Euro. 70% is financed by the European Commission (LIFE Fund) and 30% by Egypt.
The early warning system has been in operation for only one month. In December 2009, the technology was presented in the presence of Dr. Mohamed Nasr el-din Allam, the Minister of Water and Irrigation and General Mohamed Hany Metwally, the Governor of South Sinai. In order to protect the whole Sinai and the Red Sea Coast, they expressed their interest to extend the current early warning system beyond the pilot region. The Sultanate of Oman also expressed interest for the technology.