During a meeting held at the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency [SLMet] on Tuesday 18th May 2021, Deputy Director, Gabriel Kpaka, explained the various seasonal changes in the country and how it affects the climate and lives of residents, suggesting ways that they could respond to them.
During his presentation, the Deputy Director explained that the seasonal outlook can be categorised into 3 sections: processes of early warning systems, Seasonal Outlook, recommendations for disaster risk reduction. He then gave a background of SLMet since its establishment in 1827. Meteorology, he said, ‘’is a study of phenomena of the atmosphere with a major focus on weather’’, adding that the essence of Meteorology is to proffer expert advice to those in the Agriculture, Transport and Commerce sectors.
Gabriel Kpaka explained that what is normally done is Seasonal Forecast, which looks at two seasons; the rainy season and dry season. These are presented and published before the start of the season for sectoral planning, as well as daily weather forecast. He also explained that the Methods of Forecasting are; Persistent and statistical methods and weather forecasting models.
He explained the various ways in which weather forecast is issued, which are; weather station in a locality, centralized server, forecasting model, climate information through radio, mobile, website, text messages and social media etc.
Kpaka said the Entry point of SLMet for DRR are; before, during and after disaster, and these are achieved through three phases; monitoring, forecasting, prediction and dissemination. Unpacking the Forecast is divided into three segments; Morning 00:00am-11:59am, afternoon 12:00pm-17:59pm and night 18:00pm-23:59pm. He explained the Weather elements in the forecast, which include; the cloud condition, rain, temperature, dew point, relative humidity, wind speed and wind direction.
Mr Kpaka also gave the different classification and categories of rain which are; torrential, intense, heavy, moderate light, trace, moderately heavy rain, heavy rain and very heavy rain etc.
He furthered that they use the WCIS for early warning and decision making in agriculture, before cropping, during cropping and maturity/end season.
On the seasonal forecast, he said that the 2021 seasonal forecast is based on: current configuration and future of ocean surface temperature (TSO), forecast of major world centres, output of statistical and dynamic models and expert knowledge of the dynamics and characteristics of the climate in the region.
Director Kpaka further explained that Sierra Leone would record rainfall amount equivalent to below average over the entire period with respect to the 1981-2010 baseline period. It should expect early rains across the country, and long dry spells at the start of he season, as well as at the end of same. He warned that there is the likelihood of flooding, adding that strong winds prevalence in September and early thunderstorms and lightening in October.
In his recommendations, he stated that to reduce disaster risk, people should avoid flood prone areas, reinforce the flood protection dykes, ensure the regular clearance of drainages, etc. In the agricultural sector, he advised that regions should strengthen surveillance of pests (army worms), provision of mosquito nets, diversify agricultural practices etc.
The meeting was climaxed with a question and answer session.