Sunday, 17 February 2013

HAMNET Weekly report 17 Feb. 2013.

Weather around the world is undergoing change and there is no longer any doubt about it. Lately we have seen heat waves in Australia, unprecedented snow falls on the American East Coast, typhoons, tornados and cyclones all over the place and also drought in many parts of the world.

Up to about 18 months ago, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) had an ‘open’ website whereby the man in the street could access and download or view various bits of interesting information.

What was particularly of value to Hamnet was to view Radar images to track weather moving in on any particular area as a precaution should we get a particularly heavy downpour and flooding be possible. The man in the street was denied access to almost all features of SAWS and all our approaches to them was totally ignored. We did not even get a ‘thanks but no thanks’ response from them.

At that stage the South African Weather and Disaster Observation Service, SAWDOS, on Facebook, was already in full swing and with the addition to Twitter, these sites in conjunction with the Hamnet Facebook site, has developed a following across South Africa as well as members of SAWS as they interact with us on Facebook! Yet, they come up with all sorts of excuses not to allow us access to the Radar sites.

It has now been decided that as we are getting nowhere with SAWS, we are going to develop a system on Facebook, Twitter and the all our already developed sites whereby we aim to become a more effective way of not necessarily forecasting weather, but to develop a more efficient ‘real time’ reporting system which SAWS do not offer.

The benefit is that we will, via all our national observers, be able to track developing storms and report very accurately on Twitter, Facebook, SAWDOS and the Hamnet sites what is happening weather wise around our country. This information can be shared, pictures can be taken and posted on our various sites and we will be in a good position to warn towns and regions of developing storms.

This system works fabulously well in the USA where severe storms are almost an everyday occurrence. We did in fact approach SAWS for a closer working relationship with this project in mind but as I said, they did not even bother to reply to us.

So, now we are going to do it on our own and over the next few weeks develop a ‘real time’ reporting system, to try and match the successful USA modules for the benefit of all of us.

Reporting for Hamnet, this is Francois Botha – ZS6BUU.

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