Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter
Government is in the process of acquiring equipment and software for tracking and monitoring tropical cyclones and storms to improve the accuracy of weather information and avoid a devastating impacts such as those witnessed during the March Cyclone Idai.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, together with the Meteorological Services Department (MSD), has already signed a contract with a company that will supply a network of five radars, which will see the country being able to provide information on tropical cyclones and storms as it happens, as opposed to forecasting.
MSD deputy director for engineering and ICT Engineer Pomokai Mazhara said the department signed the contract on August 13 and has since submitted its application for funds through the parent ministry to Treasury and is awaiting release of funds.
He said US$6,5 million was required for a network of five radars.
“The radars will enable the department to give people appropriate and more accurate information,” said Eng Mazhara. “The first two radars will be stationed at Bulawayo and Buffalo Range because the southern parts of the country are more prone to cyclones and storms.
“By using radars, we can downscale information to four kilometres resolution and we will also be able to have sector specific forecasts which are more accurate. The software will be able to give us the approximate amount of rain from a cloud or cyclone. This is a very helpful tool in forecasting.
“Besides providing information on cyclones and storms, the software can also be used for television weather presentations and can also be used in aviation.”
Eng Mazhara said the process of procuring and installing the software took about eight months.
“Once the money has been released, the supplier will start manufacturing. This is a three-year contract and the signing is the first step towards procurement,” he said.
There were concerns by the general public over how weather experts handled the Cyclone Idai disaster which killed about 350 people and destroyed infrastructure, mainly in Chimanimani and Chipinge.
People felt there was need to shift to latest technology and carrying out more awareness campaigns in areas in the path of the cyclone.
The MSD said Cyclone Idai was an eye opener and there was need for stakeholders to work together and invest in disaster preparedness and management.