Lao weathermen seek funding to improve forecasts

By Vientiane Times | Source: ANN

The Meteorology and Hydrology Department needs more funding to develop an IT system that will enable accurate weather reports and timely forecasts for Laos.

The department, specifically the Weather Forecasting and Aeronautical Meteorology Division, is behind the times in the way it sends weather forecasts out to local areas.

The meteorology and hydrology offices in some provinces write and then fax forecasts to each district office or relevant government agency, division Head Vandy Douangmala told the Vientiane Times on Monday.

“People can get a weather forecast from the department’s website but the information is only posted once a day and not at weekends so very often the information shown is not up to date,” he said.

“To issue weather forecasts quickly and efficiently we should be updating the information every hour, even every minute if we can, but this would require the installation of an expensive system for which we currently have no budget.”

Staff from meteorology and hydrology offices in provinces around the country are gathering at the department in Vientiane this week to learn more about information analysis and new systems so they can report on weather events faster and more accurately.

A training course from March 25-29 aims to increase the skill levels of staff in the meteorology and hydrology sector both in central and local areas. They will gain a better understanding of analysing and using information provided by flood warning systems as well as share experiences on delivering more accurate weather forecasts and warnings.

Each year, Laos suffers severe weather conditions, mainly in the form of flooding, landslides and storms, which destroy a lot of personal and public property, Acting Director General of the Meteorology and Hydrology Department, Sithanh Southichack, said at the opening of the course.

“This is a constant hindrance to socio-economic development,” he said.

“Over the past five years, Laos has suffered from a number of different and severe weather events.”

“In 2008, we experienced flooding in the central and northern areas, then in 2010 tropical storm Ketsana struck the south. In 2011 we were hit by five tropical storms, the most serious of which were Haima and Nock-ten and in 2012 we again were affected by flooding in the northern and central provinces,” he said.

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