SA Weather Service requires R30 million to improve infrastructure

Service says it needs to implement plans before the end of summer

The SA Weather Service (Saws) says it urgently needs R30 million, following a severe storm which hits parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu- Natal.

Briefing the Media on Thursday, the service’s CEO, Jerry Lengoasa, said that the storms had provided an opportunity for Saws to review strategic intent and action plans to help build a smart weather service.

Lengoasa said that they’d issued warnings in time, but their critical infrastructure for disaster risk reduction and improved analysis of storms had failed them.

READ MORE: Severe storms leave at least 3 dead, 18 injured

Saws sends out weather watch and severe weather warnings, but they are directed at primary first-level users, such as the National Disaster Management Centre, he said, explaining that the vast majority of ordinary citizens did not receive this critical life- and livelihood-saving information.

He said that they did send out weather watch and severe weather warnings, but these were directed at primary first-level users such as the National Disaster Management Centre and the vast majority of ordinary citizens did not receive this critical life and livelihood-saving information.

Lengoasa said that the most important storm-monitoring tools, especially Durban Radar, was not operational at the time of need, due to system breakdowns.

Severe thunderstorms with heavy downpours, strong, damaging winds and large hail hit parts of the eastern parts of North West, Gauteng, Eastern Free State, KwaZulu-Natal Mpumalanga and Limpopo between 9 and 10 October.

READ MORE: [VIDEOS] Durban torn apart by storm

“Investments in infrastructure enhancement are urgently required,” he said. “We require increased investments in the capability to forecast severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, and further investments are required in Impact Based Warnings to scale-up the pilot project started in the Western and Eastern Cape to all parts of South Africa.”

Lengoasa said that Saws urgently needs R30 million in order to achieve its goals before the end of summer, noting that up to 80% of disaster risk-management financing and expenditure is often focused on response and recovery and not on early-warning systems.