UNMA to get equipment to predict water spouts

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By Andrew Kaggwa, NECJOGHA

The Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) is to acquire sophisticated equipment which will predict the occurrence of water spouts which are very dangerous to fishermen and other lake users.

“When a water sprout is about to happen the temperature of the water in the lake rises. UNMA does not have the equipment needed to detect the temperature of the water but soon they will get this equipment,” Robert Powell a communication consultant with UNMA’s HIGHWAY project told participants at a media training on dissemination of marine forecasts to fishermen and other lake users.

HIGHWAY which is an acronym for High Impact Weather lAke sYstem. The project is being delivered by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and funded by the British government through its development aid arm the DFID and is meant to improve safety on Lake Victoria by providing fishermen and other lake users with timely weather forecasts.

According to the encyclopedia of the National Geographical Society, a waterspout is a column of rotating, cloud-filled wind. A waterspout descends from a cumulus cloud to an ocean or a lake.

Powell explained that water spouts are very dangerous to lake users because it can even break up a boat. He however, said the lake users especially fishermen think the water spout is an action of the gods and usually cut themselves on the arm when it occurs so that they bleed and say that is a sacrifice to the gods.

On January 21, 2019 residents near Lake Bunyonyi in South Western Uganda were amazed when a water spout occurred on the lake.

At the time, William Omwony, a meteorologist with UNMA explained that what had happened on Lake Bunyonyi was a waterspout, and not a tornado as some members of the public were saying.

“A waterspout is a small diameter column of rapidly swirling air in contact with a water surface and are closely related to other atmospheric phenomenon such as a tornado,” he said.

Omwony said sometimes a waterspout may transcend over to land and turn into a full scale tornado that can cause damage to lives and property.

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