Friday, November 19, 2010

South African Weather Service (SAWS) Celebrates 150th Anniversary

Image: Margate courtosy of GLOBOsapiens.net

The first South African Meteorology Commission was established on 26 October 1860 in the former Cape Colony and its current successor SAWS is regarded as one of the oldest and leading weather services in the world. The first Commission was a modest affair with a few staff and basic instruments such as a standard barometer, a maximum and minimum thermometer and a rain water measuring gauge.

Buyelwe Sonjica, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, at a function held at Kempton Park to celebrate this important milestone, said the South African Weather Service provided a valuable service for a century and a half. As the premier provider of weather reports, warnings and information about the climate to the country’s citizens, police, defence, business, sporting codes and agriculture, it has consistently provided a quality service.

The South African Weather Service, in addition to complying with all national legislation, is governed by the South African Weather Service Act, Act no 8 of 2001. SAWS is headquartered in Pretoria and boasts 23 regional offices in the country and 3 manned weather stations on Marion- and Gough Islands and in Antarctica.

SAWS have kept abreast of the science of weather studies which technologically progressed with leaps and bounds during the last three decades. Some 30 years ago, accurate weather predictions for one day ahead were the norm. Currently, seven day weather forecasts are as reliable as three day forecasts of thirty years ago.

The Minister said SAWS provides a wide range of important services to all South Africans.

Pieter Rautenbach

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