WMO: COVID-19 is affecting weather observations

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The COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on the quality and quantity of observations and forecasts, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned.

Measurements taken from aircraft have plummeted by an average of 75-80%, with the southern hemisphere falling by nearer to 90%.

Surface-based observations have declined, especially in Africa and parts of Central and South America where many stations are manual rather than automatic.

WMO’s Global Observing System provides observations on the atmosphere and ocean surface, with the data being used to prepare weather analyses, forecasts, advisories and warnings.

The organization warns that the pandemic is having a negative impact on the quality and quantity of weather observations and forecasts, and atmospheric and climate monitoring.

Petteri Taalas, secretary general of WMO, thanked national meteorological and hydrological services for their work but expressed concerns about the strains on capacity and resources.

“As we approach the Atlantic hurricane season, the COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional challenge, and may exacerbate multi-hazard risks at a single country level. Therefore, it is essential that governments pay attention to their national early warning and weather observing capacities,” Taalas said.

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