Nguyen Duc Cuong, Head of the Hydrometeorological Information and Natural Disaster Prevention Unit, spoke to Tai Nguyen va Moi Truong (Natural Resources and Environment) about an early warning system.

* Could you tell us about extreme weather that happens in Vietnam? Are there any regulations on warnings about extreme weather in the country?

Thunderstorms and tornados are two types of extreme disasters that are difficult to predict in advance, in Vietnam and throughout the world. Warnings on these types of natural disasters can only be issued from one to three hours before they happen.

In Vietnam, specialised equipment and technology can forecast thunderstorms and tornados in a number of large cities about one to three hours before they occur.

On June 13, the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecast released a warning about a super thunderstorm in Hanoi which killed two people at 4.15pm - about 40 minutes before it occurred. This information had been posted on the centre's website.

* How can the warnings be broadcast to residents?

Thunderstorms or tornados are dangerous since they move very fast and it is difficult to issue early forecasts or warnings. Under the Government's regulations on forecasting, warnings about natural disasters, thunderstorms and tornados can occur independently as other news or in regular weather forecasts. Warnings will also be provided to mass media agencies within 15 minutes, or as soon as the centre completes the collection of information and issuing a warning about a natural disaster.

This year, the arrival of El Nino will bring more heat waves, accompanied by thunderstorms. The centre will work closely with communication agencies to warn people about them in a timely and effective way.

Before every storm season, authorized agencies at all levels must set up prevention plans, including preventive measures to ensure the safety of the people.

Under the Law on Natural Disaster Prevention in 2013, thunderstorms and tornados are listed as among those with disaster risks. The Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention has directed local authorities to develop their own plans to cope with the different types of disasters often occurring in each locality.

From now until next year, localities should strengthen their warning systems so that people understand and have proactive measures to respond to extreme weather.

* What skills do people need to protect themselves during extreme weather, such as in thunderstorms and tornados?

It's not very complicated to avoid tornados and thunderstorms. Generally, people can reduce damages caused by natural disasters by taking the following measures:

Prior to the rainy seasons, people should upgrade their houses and build shelters. Tall trees near homes should be pruned to avoid broken branches or trees being uprooted, causing harm to people.

When thunderstorms, tornados or hail do occur, people should not walk in open fields or stand atop high areas. Also, tools made of metal, such as hoes and shovels, must be avoided during thunderstorms. Further, people are encouraged not to sit near windows with iron frames and not to use cell phones.-VNA