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Flash flood warnings unrealistic, say experts

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TECHNOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS mean homeowners are never likely to receive advance warnings of flash floods, a senior meteorologist warned this week.

The Met Office can only locate a storm within a 200km 2radius 12 hours before it hits.

Even an hour before severe weather, forecasts are restricted to a 10km 2to 20km 2accuracy, Met Office head of public service development Stewart Wass told an NCE flooding conference last week.

Wass was reflecting on the lessons learned from the flash flooding that crippled the Cornish village of Boscastle in August.

'You can predict the intensity pretty well but you can't say which town is going to be hit, ' Wass said. 'I don't think we will ever be able to provide warnings to individual occupiers of this type of rainfall event.

'We would look to be able to warn local authorities so they can come onto a heightened state of alertness, ' he added.

Environment Agency flood defence manager Richard Horrocks said the flooded area matched previously produced maps of the floodplain at Boscastle, showing that events could be anticipated.

But he pointed out the difficulty of using an acoustic alarm connected to river levels .

'It reaches that level regularly so there are going to be an awful lot of false alarms, ' he said.

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