New weather warning service on the cards for SA — here’s how it will work

South African Weather Service – Supplied

A new weather warning service is expected to be introduced across the country‚ the SA Weather Service (SAWS) said on Monday.

The system‚ known as the impact-based severe warning system‚ is expected to give a practical and easier indication of weather conditions. It was launched in collaboration with Disaster Management.

“What this means is that a meteorological threshold‚ for example 50mm of rain in 24 hours‚ is not necessarily needed to be met for a warning to be issued. If the anticipated rainfall is expected to result in an impact‚ a warning will be issued‚” SAWS said.

The service said the main aim of the new system was for weather-related warnings to be “better understood so that they reach more South Africans and the required actions can be taken well ahead of time to mitigate possible affects”.

SAWS said the warning levels would be colour-coded‚ using the robot system (yellow‚ orange and red). The colours will be dependent on the combination of the anticipated effects and the likelihood of occurring.

However‚ fire danger warnings will still be issued according to thresholds as these are governed by an act of parliament. A warning will be issued if the index is higher than 75.

In addition to weather warnings‚ SAWS said advisories would be issued for the following conditions: when the maximum temperature is expected to be at least 40˚C‚ or extremely low temperatures; when the maximum temperature is expected to be 10 ˚C or below; heatwave conditions; the maximum temperature is 5˚ C higher than the average temperature for the hottest month for three consecutive days — high discomfort is considered when the temperatures exceeds 42˚C and the relative humidity is at least at 40%; and the first frost of the season or where frost is not a common occurrence in the area.

“The purpose of issuing an advisory is just to alert the public to the possibility of unusual conditions relating to temperature. These conditions are not necessarily life threatening if prepared for accordingly‚” SAWS said.

SAWS said the following could be expected on the new warning system:

Less use of meteorological jargon and scientific wording
Warnings only issued if an impact is expected to occur
Warnings will be easier to translate
Warnings will be unique to hazard and area
Joint ownership of warnings between the SAWS and Disaster Management
Impact-based warnings will be issued for the following hazards:

Disruptive rainfall
Severe thunderstorms (heavy downpours/large hail/large amounts of small hail/damaging winds)
Damaging winds
Disruptive snowfalls
Reduced visibility
Damaging waves
Storm surges

By: Nonkululeko Njilo – TimesLIVE

Source: ARENA Holdings.

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