Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment

Department of Climate Change and  Meteorological Services

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Towards Reliable, Responsive and High Quality Weather and Climate Services in Malawi

  BE WISE, BE WEATHERWISE  

Meteorological Station Network

1. Introduction

Meteorological data collection in Malawi dates way back to the early 1890s when the country became a British Protectorate. Data then were recorded by administrators at the BOMAs, missionaries, farmers and a few interested individuals. Thus the station network then merely reflected the logistics of the recorders or owners of the stations rather than technical aspects. A good number of stations were sited along the Shire River and a concentration existed over the Shire Highlands in the tea estates.

Records at these stations were taken once or twice a day but at no-fixed hours. Observers were mostly untrained volunteers and as such stations did not operate consistently. For example, of the 102 stations which operated in the 1930s and 1940, only a handful were still operating by the mid 1940s, most of them only recording rainfall.

The building of a systematic network of stations under a meteorological authority begun in the mid 1940s. It was the need for aviation weather services that prompted the opening of the first few stations but soon other needs came in. Since then the logistics for sitting a station have changed and several technical aspects are considered. Apart from trying to build a homogeneous network, the Meteorological Department considers the opening of new stations for specified user parties. During the past few years stations have been opened to cater for the needs of development projects in agriculture, forestry, water resources, fisheries, wildlife, education, etc.

2. Present Network

The present network of meteorological stations comprises 22 full meteorological stations, 21 subsidiary agrometeorological stations, strategically located in the eight ADDs, and over 400 rainfall stations.

The types of data recorded at these station are as follows:

STATION

NUMBER S

Rainfall

761

Air temperature

81

Atmospheric pressure

13

Upper winds

  7

Upper Air

  1

Wind at 2 metres

39

Wind at 10 metres

  5

Weather (clouds, visibility etc)

25

Sunshine duration

30

Global Solar radiation

  9

Diffuse Solar Radiation

  3 (1987)

Evaporation

28

Soil temperature

10

Soil Moisture

  5

Phenological Observations

  5

Seismic data

  2

Main Meteorological Stations
 

Of the 761 rainfall stations,

328 stations have less than 10 years of data
206 stations have less than 10 years of data
99 stations have less than 20 years of data
64 stations have less than 30 years of data
26 stations have less than 40 years of data
16 stations have less than 50 years of data
9 stations have less than 60 years of data
11 stations have less than 70 years of data
2 stations have less than 80 years of data

Subsidiary Stations 
1) Chelinda
2) Kaperekezi
3) Vinthukutu Agric
4) Ntchena-chena Agric
5) Lunyangwa Agric
6) Mzuzu University
7) Chikangawa
8) Emfeni Agric
9) Dwangwa
10) Lifuwu Agric
11) Chitala Agric
12) Ntchisi Agric
13) Natural Resources College
14) Neno Agric
15) Chancellor College
16) Mikonga
17) Chipale
18) Alumenda
19) Kasinthula Agric
20) Nchalo
21) Nsanje Agric

3. OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES AND STATUS OF DATA

At the 22 full meteorological stations, observations are done regularly at 0500, 0600, 0800, 0900, 1100, 1400 and 1700 local times. The minimum number of observations per station is two at one-man stations and only on Saturdays and Sundays. Currently, two stations are doing observations 24 hours a day.

Observations at these stations are done by fully trained Meteorological Assistants who initially undergo a six month training course.

Comments / suggestions
@2006 Copyright Malawi Meteorological Services