Ailing radar hobbles weather warnings
THE SA Weather Service needed to improve its infrastructure and communication outreach if it was to provide satisfactory information to save life and limb, its chief executive, Jerry Lengoasa, said yesterday.
Lengoasa was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria following extreme weather conditions experienced in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal earlier this week, in which at least 14 people lost their lives.
Among them was a toddler who was swept away from a flooded daycare facility.
Lengoasa said globally, 80% to 90% of disasters were caused by hydro-meteorological weather, water and climate or were exacerbated by such hazards.
“South Africa is not exempt from such extremes. In the face of a changing climate due to global warming, these extremes are expected to increase… Some in frequency and intensity,” Lengoasa pointed out.
He said although some of these hazards could be predicted well in advance, such as Cyclone Dineo, others came with limited time for warnings to be issued because of their rapid development.
Lengoasa and his team said four of their radars in Durban, North West, Mthatha and Ermelo had failed to work properly. Of the five radars the SA Weather Service needed, only two were operational, he said.
He revealed that SAWS sent out weather watch and severe weather warnings, but these were directed at primary first-level users such as the National Disaster Management Centre, the media and private sector clients and partners, which included the insurance sector. But the majority of citizens did not receive the critical life- and livelihood-saving information, he added.