Severe Weather Nowcasting based on Total Lightning Detection in Africa’s Lake Victoria Region

Severe Weather Nowcasting based on Total Lightning Detection in Africa’s Lake Victoria Region

  • Overview

    Summary

    To bring advanced weather nowcasting and alerting to Africa’s Lake Victoria Basin, with the goal of saving potentially thousands of lives annually in an area known for its severe, dangerous thunderstorms that strike with little warning.

    Commitment Target(s)
    • 2015 – Sensor site selection and set-up (Earth Networks)

    • 2015 – Training of in-country meteorology staff on weather forecasting and alerting technology (Earth Networks and meteorological agencies of participating countries)

    • 2015 – Utilization of live data for forecasting & alerting by in-country meteorological operations (meteorological agencies of participating countries)

    • Details

      An economic center, Lake Victoria supplies millions of people with fresh water and abundant fish. The lake’s equatorial, tropical location and daily convective patterns bring frequent and often severe thunderstorms with lightning, high winds, hail and heavy rain throughout the year. Up to 5,000 deaths each year are caused by these violent, fast-moving storms, which often strike fishermen on the water with little or no warning. While initiatives to bring advanced forecasting and warning to the Lake Victoria Basin have been proposed, no real-time severe weather tracking and alerting system is in place – a common challenge in developing regions with limited funding and inadequate radar, which are expensive to install and maintain.

      The goal of this public-private project is to bring advanced weather nowcasting and alerting to the Lake Victoria Basin for the first time, with the goal of saving potentially thousands of lives each year in an area known for its severe, dangerous thunderstorms that strike with little warning.

      The initiative involves several groups, including the East African Community Secretariat, the African Centers for Lightning and Electromagnetics (ACLE), and Earth Networks, a private U.S.-based company.

      Supporting resources

      Earth Networks, a private U.S.-based company specializing in weather and lighting sensor networks and technology is funding the deployment of the sensors and technology.

      The project involves placing an early warning sensor network within the five countries bordering Lake Victoria – Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. This network monitors “total lightning.” Total lightning includes lightning that strikes the ground and, importantly, in-cloud lightning — which is the vast majority of lightning that remains in the sky and often indicates that extreme weather is near. The real-time data from this sensor network, combined with advanced visualization and alerting technology, detects and analyzes the onset of severe storm cells – enabling highly targeted and timely severe weather alerts that can save lives and property.

      Earth Networks will also provide automated weather tools and training for the meteorological agency officials at the participating organizations.

      Sustainable Development Goals
      7. Affordable and clean energy; 11. Sustainable cities and communities; 12. Responsible consumption and production; 13. Climate action; 14. Life below water; 15. Life on land
      Issue areas
      Biodiversity; Climate Change; Energy; Principle 7; Principle 8; Principle 9
      Industry sector(s) that apply to this commitment
      Technology hardware & equipment
      Country(s) where this commitment will be implemented
      MULTIPLE

      Partners

      Names of committing organisations Names of additional partners

      East African Community (EAC) Secretariat
      African Centers for Lightning and Electromagnetics (ACLE)

      Note: All organisations listed above are accountable for the commitment made. These organisations are required to complete an annual communication on progress for the duration of the commitment, either jointly or individually, as laid out in the accountability section of the submission form.