With a key focus on flood, fire and tropical cyclone, this paper reviews international and national warnings policy documents and social research and explores the evidence-based evolution of warning services with respect to the total warning system concept.
The Bureau of Meteorology has a mandate to issue warnings for weather and climate events that are likely to result in harm and loss. This service has been delivered in an end-to-end (science to service) context and warnings messages have typically been crafted to describe the current and predicted future state of the environment and recommended protective actions.
However, the warnings landscape is evolving and Australian governments and emergency management agencies are adopting rapidly diversifying roles in a range of warnings processes. This evolution coincides with the shift in international strategies: from the mitigation and crisis management approach to the emphasis on building community resilience. Following a number of severe weather-related events that resulted in serious losses a series of Australian inquiries, reviews and social research investigated warnings efficacy. This included the National Review of Warnings and Information for Australia, with a recommendation suggesting that a total warning system concept be more formally considered across multiple hazards, rather than just flood, as it currently stands. Consequently, Australian warnings agencies are embracing a more people-centred approach recognising the need for messages to include detail of likely impact alongside an implied level of risk. Thus, developing capability to deliver impact forecasting and risk-based warnings services in a multi (natural) hazard context.