Mobile News In Africa: #71

Kenyans hook up to storm forecast app

Imagine you could tell when a storm was coming and prepare ahead of it? That’s a luxury Kenyans are enjoying right now.

Kenyans can see real-time locations of where extreme stormy weathers are heading, a few hours before it gets to them, and on their mobile phones, thanks to a new app, Fasta (Forecasting African Storms Application).

Launched on January 31 in conjunction with the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), the free-to-use app will offer real-time locations of ongoing storm activity in Kenya, and will also alert users to any storms predicted to reach their location, beforehand.

The app was developed by scientists at the University of Leeds and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, working in partnership with the KMD.

The app draws on the techniques of nowcasting, which enables meteorologists to provide accurate forecasts of stormy weather that’s developing over the next couple of hours.

Due to climatic change, intense rainfall events and their recurrence are predicted to increase in frequency, further heightening the threat to African communities. Yet, nowcasting which has been widely used in the US, Europe, and Asia, has not been available in much of Africa due to a lack of coverage of rainfall radar that nowcasting systems rely upon. But scientists are now able to predict the behaviour of storms using satellite data.

Across the world, intense rainfall events can be deadly, especially in East Africa on Lake Victoria. Hundreds of people drown every year when their boats capsize in severe storms.

Fortunately, with the new Fasta app, we can prepare ahead of weather conditions and reduce the occurrence of accidents caused by poor weather conditions. MORE…

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