Data from computer models at a European weather forecasting center would have predicted the intense rainfalls that led to last summer’s devastating floods in Pakistan 8-10 days before they occurred — if the data had been processed, according to a study recently published in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters.

The study, led by Peter Webster at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, further found that the floods themselves could have been predicted if the data had been processed and fed into a hydrological model that considered regional terrain.

Widespread flooding in Pakistan last July killed thousands of people and tens of thousands of cattle, and it displaced or disrupted the lives of 20 million people.

“People don’t understand the powers of modern environmental prediction,” Webster said in a news release by the American Geophysical Union. “This disaster could have been minimized and even the flooding could have been minimized. If we were working with Pakistan, they would have known 8 to 10 days in advance that the floods were coming.”

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