World Weather Forecasts Now Online

HONG KONG, China, December 13, 2002 (ENS) - The weather at the Hong Kong Observatory today is sunny and warm with the temperature at 16 degrees Celsius and 72 percent humidity. Web visitors can find this weather report and forecasts for another 680 cities in 69 countries on a new website developed by the Hong Kong Observatory under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong (Photo courtesy Damon Hart-Davis)
The online service offering access to the latest weather forecasts of the world's cities was launched this week on the World Weather Information Service site: www.worldweather.org.

From Argentina to Vanuatu, Worldweather aims at providing the media and the international community with an authoritative source of up to date weather data around the world and around the clock. Worldweather now offers weather forecasts several days ahead and monthly climatological information for 826 cities of 150 member countries.

All information is provided by the National Meteorological Services which operate collectively the official worldwide weather observing network coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Professor Godwin O.P. Obasi, WMO Secretary-General, said, "Promoting the use by the media of authoritative forecasts, warnings and information, with appropriately acknowledged sources to preserve the unique authority of National Meteorological Services has been an area which has received a great deal of attention by WMO."

Obasi expressed satisfaction that a growing number of WMO members countries are participating in the project, as "international cooperation is the key for a truly global meteorological information network at the service of the international community," he said.

The active participation of WMO members is the key to success of the world weather forcasting system says Lam Chiu-Ying, acting director of the Hong Kong Observatory, who says he has been "deeply moved by the enthusiasm of WMO members for serving the world irrespective of their means."

A flexible technical design has been adopted in order to allow countries with greatly different technological capabilities to communicate weather information to the Hong Kong Observatory. For the first time recognized weather forecasts are emanating from developing countries as well as industrialized countries.

Special efforts are needed to develop and improve the capabilities of national meteorological services in the world 49 Least Developed Countries in the light of their importance for socioeconomic development, Obasi said in October.

pollution

In early December 2002, a thick haze sat over the lowlands of northern India and Bangladesh. There is a sharp contrast between the polluted air in Bangladesh and the clean air north of the Himalayan Mountains.(Photo courtesy NASA)
Prediction and early warning with good lead time on impending weather and climate hazards will be the key to minimizing loss of life and property. Other major challenges ahead for the national meteorological services in Least Developed Countries are related to droughts and desertification, water resources assessment and management, and the impacts of climate change.

The WMO is developing a program aimed at enhancing the capabilities of national meteorological and hydrological services in the Least Developed Countries. The program will be submitted to the 14th World Meteorological Congress in May 2003. It will focus on the improvement of the basic infrastructure and the development of human resources in these 49 countries. A special trust fund is being proposed for this purpose.

The availability of world weather forecasts online represents the second phase of a WMO website pilot project. The first phase was launched in December 2001 and is aimed at delivering climatological information for the world's cities.