The development of the European Flood Alert System (EFAS) was initiated by the European Commission (EC) in 2003 as a response to the Elbe and Danube floods of 2002. Since 2005, it has been working on an experimental basis with the plan to be fully operational in 2012. The system covers many European countries and has a network of more than 20 flood forecasting centers in Europe.
EFAS is operated on a 24/7 basis at the Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) in Ispra (Italy), which is part of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the EC. Its purpose is to increase the preparedness for major floods in Europe and to improve crisis management efforts to mitigate the flood impact. EFAS provides flood warning information up to 10 days in advance including maps.
The information provided consists of the following data: Location, date, time and severity of ongoing floods, forecasted maximum discharge in reporting points, alert level, flood probability, forecasted threshold exceedance (high/severe flood), snow coverage, forecasted accumulated precipitation, and probability of exceeding 150/50 mm of accumulated rainfall.
EFAS uses data from 120 European weather forecasts, 1,000 ground stations, and satellites. In case of a forecasted flood within 3-10 days, EFAS informs the respective partner organizations.
The system’s main users are the national members and the European Commission. The general public also has access to flood maps online, but only regarding ongoing and past flood events. The forecast products are restricted to the EFAS members and the EC.