A tornado that hit Mpolweni near Wartburg in Pietermaritzburg, west of Durban left a few people dead, scores injured, homes destroyed and some homeless. File Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA).
A tornado that hit Mpolweni near Wartburg in Pietermaritzburg, west of Durban left a few people dead, scores injured, homes destroyed and some homeless. File Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA).

Impact-based forecasting in the pipeline for SA Weather Service

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Oct 21, 2021

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DURBAN - AN Impact-Based Forecasting (IBF) approach is in the pipeline for the South African Weather Service (Saws).

That was according to Saws forecaster Wisani Maluleke.

Maluleke said the service was in the process of creating a database for South Africa to monitor extreme weather events such as flooding, severe thunderstorms and heavy rains.

He said, for instance, if strong winds were expected in an area, they would look at whether the structures would be able to withstand the strength of the winds.

“We don’t have a database but it’s in the pipeline. It’ll look at impacts on people, transporting. It would also look at the vulnerability of certain areas,” Maluleke said.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), IBF aims to enable individuals and communities to prepare accordingly while providing emergency responders with important information to respond to threats posed by severe weather events.

Last November, the eThekwini Municipality launched and started using the Forecast Early Warning System, which was expected to enable the city to better manage and mitigate the effects of flood-related disasters by simulating flood scenarios, environmental water quality, coastal erosion and wave behaviour.

Meanwhile, a report by the WMO on the state of the climate in Africa in 2020 said dry conditions persisted over large areas in the west of South Africa. In some parts, the dry conditions have continued for approximately seven years, but it should be noted that some regions received good rains at the beginning of the 2020/2021 summer rainfall season.

“KwaZulu-Natal province was also hit hard by a shorter-term drought, accompanied by very high temperatures, which affected 256 towns and surrounding communities. The identified hot-spot areas include the districts of uThukela, uMzinyathi, Amajuba, Zululand, King Cetshwayo and uMgungundlovu.

The report added that long-term drought persisted in parts of southern Africa, particularly the Northern and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. However, heavy rains in winter saw water storages reach full capacity in Cape Town, aiding the recovery from the extreme drought situation which peaked in 2018.

Daily News

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