Early warning system in the Azerbaijan Republic

Sakhib Khalilov
State Committee for Hydrometeorology, Resul-Rza, 3, Baku, Azerbaijan.
Tel. : +994-12-93-45-32, Fax: +994-12-93-69-37

Early warning systems for natural hazards of every country depend on its economical and social development. With respect to its hydrometeorological situation the Republic of Azerbaijan is characterised by complex conditions. Terrestrial height above sea level varies from 26 to +4466 metres. 9 of 11 types of climate according to the Keppen classification are found here. The quantity of annual precipitation in central-steppe areas changes from 200 to 400 millimetres and in subtropical zones it is less than 1200 millimetres. Maximum daily precipitation may amount from 100 to 300 millimetres. Moreover, the geographical peculiarity of Absheron peninsula, where the capital of the Republic Baku city is situated, and of the adjoining Caspian Sea aquatory, called Absheron Sea, with its rich oil deposits, is characterised by frequent storm winds called "Kharri" (old name of the Caspian Sea). In other case it is Baku North relating to wind speed (3540 m/sec) and wave height (812 m) in Oil Rocs area.

Heavy showers on the territory of Azerbaijan Republic often lead to floods with damages and human casualties. Moreover, hail fall is observed on the territory during warm periods. They cause damage to agriculture. Hail diameters sometimes are about 3050 millimetres which results in total destruction.

Azerbaijan is a country with an economy in transition. Financial provisions for hydrometeorology cover only 30% of the total needs of the Hydrometeorological Service and those transferred for the protection of life and property in the event of natural hazards are nearly scanty. Damage as a result of elemental hydrometeorological occurrences in summer 1997, connected with heavy showers, hail fall and flood, were estimated at 50 Mio US$ and 15 lives were lost. During these events, nearly one third of the land area of the Republic was flooded as a result of heavy showers with maximum daily of which precipitation of 194 millimetres. In Mingechaur town, the Principal Hydroenergetical Centre of the Republic, the water level was 50130 cm. The machine room of the Mingechaur Electrostation was flooded and agricultural crops such as wheat and cotton were damaged and cotton picking reduced to 50%.

For 90% of the natural events with disaster potential the National Hydrometeorological Service of the country issued warnings. Though this helped to reduced the damage to some degree the losses still turned out to be enormous.

There is a structure in the Republic called Commission on Extreme Occurrences. It is headed by the Deputy Prime-Minister and is responsible for arrangements to prevent and minimise damage and the loss of human life in the event of natural hazards. Unfortunately, this agency is, as the Hydrometeorological Service too, not provided with sufficient technical and financial resources for making the necessary arrangements to prevent damages and human losses. Undoubtedly, this is a common problem for developing countries and countries with economies in transition.