WMO | Public Weather Services (PWS)
Applications of PWS
PWS in support of safety of life and property
Weather elements pose a threat to life, property and the environment when they are severely intense or persist for abnormal periods of time. Hazardous and extreme weather exist on a widely varying temporal and spatial scale: local severe events such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms cause sudden threats to a relatively small number of people, while persisting phenomena such as flood-producing rain or drought often occur on a wider basis. Even more severe than the direct damages of severe and extreme weather are the indirect effects on food security and spreading of diseases. Often continuous weather effects lead to sustained problems of desertification, famine and mass emigration.
Public weather services (PWS) make substantial contributions to disaster preparedness and response through the application of meteorological information and forecasts in the different stages of disaster management including: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. To prevent and mitigate the effects of severe weather phenomena, PWS support all stages of disaster management:
Agriculture is a dominant activity in many countries. Consequently, the provision of services to agriculture to provide day-to-day guidance in scheduling farming operations such as planting, irrigation, spraying and harvesting as well as other activities such as food storage and transportation is a very high priority of NMHSs.
Water resource management:
Water resource projects, involving construction of dams, wells, water and sewage treatment plants, are designed on the basis of knowledge of a region's climate. Their efficient operation relies on up-to-date information on temperature, rainfall and humidity. To assure continuously sufficient supply of water for farming, industry and households, close links should be maintained between public weather services and the authorities that manage water resource projects.
The correlation between the use of energy and the variations of daily weather is well known: heating and cooling requirements strongly depend on cool or hot weather conditions. PWS assist in the operational planning to meet the expected demand for electric power, heating fuel and gasoline.
Air pollution and environmental quality:
Inclusion of air quality information in public weather bulletins in response to the public requests, is becoming increasingly popular among NMHSs. Timely information enables the public to take actions to reduce air pollution levels and to avoid polluted areas. Such actions include using public transportation or simply staying indoors. Meteorological knowledge and information also have applications for sustaining and improving environmental quality. Applications include the warnings in emergency cases of oil spill, toxic gas releases or nuclear accidents and the continuous monitoring, assessment and prevention of air pollution from traffic and industries using dispersion models. Weather forecasts also predict the onset of the monsoon and so prevent wide-spread bush and forest fires.
There is a growing public awareness of the linkages between human health and weather and climate which could be responded to through the inclusion of advice on risks caused by changing weather conditions, UV radiation (skin cancer), spread of pollens, dusts etc. (allergies, attacks of bronchial asthma) or ozone concentrations. They also help to prepare for conditions favoring the spread of diseases as typhoid, malaria or cholera.
The traveling public and the transportation industry are two distinct client groups being served by PWS. Most people obtain information on hazardous weather conditions from public forecasts which in turn helps them to plan their trip and decide on the modes of transport. Road and rail traffic operations too require information on ice, snow, winds, temperature and floods.
Recreation and Tourism:
As recreation and tourism are becoming an increasingly important economic sector around the globe, weather forecasts are not only used by visitors to schedule their activities, but also by the tourism industry to contribute to the safety and security of tourists and to promote specific countries and regions as attractive destinations.
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