Sierra Leone: Meteorological Department Faces Logistical Constraints

By Stephen V. Lansana

Meteorological Department is one of the neglected government institutions in the country which is faced with numerous challenges.

The Acting Director of Meteorological Department, Ibrahim S. Kamara said the department needs Medical Weather Production models, radar and human resource to enhance efficiency.

Kamara disclosed to Premier News on Tuesday May 9th, 2017 that there are three main important things in doing weather forecast which are universal: The place; intensity like heavy, moderate and light; and the time of a particular weather occur. “We can able to provide a weather forecast of a particular place and time, but we cannot tell the intensity of which it will happen because we don’t have the required instrument.” He added that radar will help to provide the intensity.

He explained that Sierra Leone, together with other African countries usually hold a regional conference on weather forecast where they will discuss thoroughly on the subject and bring out a seasonal forecast for each country, adding that this year’s regional conference is going to hold in Ghana on May 15th this year.

He added that he will bring out the outlook of the weather for this year after the conference in Ghana because it involves expert knowledge.

He said a seasonal forecast involves a lot of things, which includes but not limited to ocean buoys, radar and many others.

“As a country, we are not matured up to the level of making a seasonal forecast because we don’t have the kind instruments that we need,” he said, he stated for instance that in developed countries like Europe, they have well developed systems like Medical Weather Production (MWP) model, adding that Europe has many other models. He added that Europe has users need which will modify the service based on what the user wants. He said for the Agriculturist need to know the weather condition that is favorable for planting.

He said that they need the support of international partners to providing information about the global weather, adding that the regional model is only limited to that region. But a forecast should go beyond a particular region.

He disclosed that they presently have eight automatic weather stations across the country which is used online, adding that an authorized user will be in any part of the world and access the information provided by automatic stations in the country. He added that as the system collects the information, it will send it directly online.

Kamara pointed out that the need staff in each of the weather stations in the country, adding that the department is highly technical, so it needs staffs that have expertise.

He added that there are a lot of instruments that are used in other countries. He stated that other countries used to launch balloon to sound the profile of the atmosphere, adding that it has a tracking station rise up, it measures the parameters and send it to the tracking stations which is used to analyzed the weather. “But it is very expensive.” He said according to source, each time the balloon is launched, it will cost 200 pound, adding that it is usually launched two times per day, which is 400 pounds per day.

He said the department is not just limited to providing weather forecast in the country. But it also deals with other issues that contribute to national development, adding that they also provide data for the road construction companies because the temperature in the country is different from those in other part of the world.