The World Meteorological Organisation is dedicating this year’s World Meteorological Day, which has been celebrated on 23 March for the past 61 years, to raising awareness about the importance of issuing early warnings which enable the public, organisations and authorities to be prepared for and respond to certain weather and climate events.

Throughout 2021, the Meteorological Office in Ħal Luqa, which is the Maltese Islands’ official weather service provider, issued 256 weather warnings with the aim of helping members of the general public, mariners and entities protect themselves and dependents from the impact of high temperatures, strong winds, rain, thundery activity and coastal waves.

The severity of each warning is indicated through one of the three colours used, with yellow (be aware) signalling that the weather could have some low-level impacts on everyday activities; orange (be prepared) indicating an increased likelihood that bad weather could cause disruptions; and red (take action) indicating that extreme weather, which requires the public to take action and avoid dangerous areas, is expected.

“Out of all 256 warnings issued by the Met Office last year, only one was red, and this was valid between 9 and 12 August as the daily maximum temperatures were expected to exceed the monthly climate norm significantly, soaring to range between 38°C and 41°C. The Meteorological Office takes its responsibility of forewarning the public of bad or extreme weather events very seriously, issuing colour-coded warnings only once certain established criteria are met so as not to raise unnecessary alarm,” said forecaster Martina Gatt.

Forecaster Martina Gatt whose quote appears in the text

Forecaster Martina Gatt is one of 12 forecasters, observers and administrators working at the Meteorological Office

Throughout the past years, huge technological advancements and a continued investment in the latest forecasting instruments and models, have made the weather slightly more predictable than its proverbial reputation, enabling the Meteorological Office to start publishing longer term weather forecasts. While state-of-the art weather instruments have contributed to reducing human error and increasing accuracy, the input of human observers and forecasters is essential in the translation of weather data into forecasts which the general public can understand, as well as the adaptation of forecasts for the different sectors whose operation depends on accurate meteorological information.

The Meteorological Office, through its membership of the EUMETNET network, shares weather data with other national meteorological and hydrological service providers, with this cooperation being fundamental to preparedness and response to weather events across Europe. One of the most successful projects of the EUMETNET network is Meteoalarm, which is the website that provides advice on exceptional weather across the continent. Another collaborative project that was launched more recently, in September 2021, is the data-sharing project in relation to storms and storm-naming with the aim of better streamlining the communication of such weather events.

Published on: 23.03.2022