10A.3 Malawi Weather Chasers: Using Social Media to Jumpstart Dissemination, Event Reporting, and Preparedness

Thursday, 26 January 2017: 9:00 AM
612 (Washington State Convention Center )
James K. Purpura, WeatherExtreme, Ltd., Incline Village, NV; and Y. E. Kachiwanda and R. Jubach

A Flash Flood Warning System, originally used in South Africa, was expanded in 2015 to become a severe weather warning system including both South Africa and 8 of its neighboring nations in the region. A meeting in Pretoria was convened by the WMO for each participating country to develop a Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and a roadmap to implementation.

At the meeting it was acknowledged that this was a significant effort that would require years of planning and implementation. It was also acknowledged that overcoming communications challenges in much of southern Africa was a major issue. Social Media was discussed as one way to “jumpstart” the communication process.

A group of Meteorologists at the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) in Malawi have developed a unique approach to the communication challenge. Through the use of WhatsApp, a social media communication tool, they have developed a weather spotter network, and communicate forecasts, warnings, observations and storm reports to remote villages, Disaster Risk Managers, media, and local, regional, and national government officials.

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