MET staff trained on new system on lightning detection: Malawi to reduce deaths

The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) has trained 14 meteorologists in lightning detection system to operate the new system the department has procured to reduce deaths caused by lightning.

MEC staff trained 14 meteorologists in lightning detection system

MET  through the Scaling up the Use of Modernized Climate Information and Early Warning systems (M-CLIMES) has installed eight lightning detection sensors across the country to detect lightning and thunder.

Speaking at the closed of the training in Lilongwe on Friday, MET  Deputy Director for Engineering and Communication, Rodrick Walusa said the sensors will help warn the general public especially in the areas where lightning is to strike to take caution.

He said the department through M-CLIMES, a project being implemented by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) with support from United Nations Development Program (UNDP) saw the need to support the government of Malawi to procure the equipment to help reduce deaths caused by lightning.

“We have had plans to procure the equipment but due to high costs of the equipment we failed to procure. With the coming in of the M-CLIMES project, funding was made available and finally we have managed to procure and install in eight centers across the country,” said Walusa.

“The idea is to monitor development of storms when they develop and track where they are originating from and how far they will go. The sensors will then send messages to our servers where controlling officers will analyze the data and notify the authorities to warn people in targeted areas,” said Walusa.

He said the installation of the sensors in the country will help other institutions that need data on lightning for different use but also will help those that want to do a research on lightning.

Walusa said the system will also help send accurate messages to aircraft operators to be able to advise pilots on weather at the station en route to their destination and avoid fatalities and shocks that are caused due to poor or failed landing as a result of weather and storms.

He added that apart from saving lives, the system will also contribute to social economic development because airlines will be paying for the information and data obtained from MET.

Walusa said the equipment has been well secured as it has been installed in centers that are secure. Adding that the department will hold sensitization campaigns on the importance of the equipment so that they are not vandalized.

“The GCF through M-CLIMES, a project aimed at saving lives and Protecting Agriculture based lives has done a good job and we want to assure them and the general public that we will secure the equipment and make sure that it saves lives as intended,” he said.

In an interview at the end of the training, Dr. Dirk Brandlein from Nowcast GmbH, a subsidiary of UBIMET GmbH, a Germany company that has won the tender of supplying the equipment and system said the system will have a high impact on Malawi.

He said the system that is being used by many countries and departments such as the armed forces, traffic control, aircraft traffic control among others has always produced good results and will benefit Malawi too.

He said countries like Colombia, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, Peru, U.S.A are some of the countries that are using the system and have benefitted a lot especially in saving lives of people through using the system.

One of the participants, Paul Mughogho a forecaster at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) said the training has been an eye opener and that they are ready to deliver their best according to what they have learnt.

Another participant, Amos Mtonya, a meteorologist in Blantyre said many have lost lives due to lightning and that it was becoming worrisome.

Mtonya said the old model was not specific on the exact places to be affected hence people continued falling victims despite being warned.

The sensors have been installed in Chitipa, Mzuzu, Bangula in Nsanje, Dwanga, Kasungu National Park, Malingunde, Chileka international Airport and Malingunde in Lilongwe  to help capture the needed information.

The six year project is also procuring lake buoys that will be installed across the country to capture data on water to help in disaster risk reduction.

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