Notes to broadcasters
Farmers’ success depends on being well-prepared for whatever weather may come their way. And radio broadcasters are well-positioned to help farmers prepare for upcoming weather, especially when they work closely with national or sub-national meteorological services.
This document was designed with support from the Ghana Meteorological Service to help Ghanaian broadcasters provide weather services to the farmers they serve. Broadcasters in other countries can best adapt the document to their listeners’ needs by contacting and working closely with their own national meteorological services.
The Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) issues a variety of weather forecasts, including daily, weekly, and seasonal forecasts. GMet also issues weather updates and weather warnings. These are your best source for creating your own weather forecasts.
In your daily weather forecasts, there are a number of elements that must be included. There are other elements that are included only under specific conditions.
The elements that must be included are the following:
- General weather (for example, rain, thunderstorm with rain, sunny, cloudy, partly cloudy, mist, etc.)
- Probability of precipitation (in percentage)
This information should be given for the weather in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Thus, there is a separate forecast that indicates the expected temperature, general weather, and probability of precipitation for the morning, afternoon, and evening.
The elements that should be included only under specific conditions include those weather issues that are covered in weather updates and weather warnings (see below). These include changes in the weather forecast and storm warnings.
Three times a week, the GMet issues weather updates in the Weekly Outlook, which is distributed at the beginning of the week, middle of the week, and on the weekend.
It’s important for broadcasters to pass along weather updates from GMet during their weather forecast immediately after they are received.
GMet also issues occasional weather warnings. Weather warnings can be issued if, for example, there are strong winds associated with a storm, in which case, the warning would include the wind speed and direction.
GMet issues these warnings whenever there are unusual weather events, for example, storms.
Weather warnings from the Agency should be broadcast as special bulletins as soon as possible after they are received.
Weather warnings should also be included in all regular weather forecasts until they are no longer relevant.
The Ghana Meteorological Agency also provides weekly forecasts. A summary of the weekly forecast can be read during the farmer program, and also shared Mondays and Thursdays.
Weather advisories for drivers and food vendors
- During heavy rains and the harmattan season, weather forecasts should include a warning to drivers to proceed with caution in order to reduce road accidents.
- Advise drivers whose vehicles have worn tires not to drive on rainy days.
- During light rains, roads may be particularly slippery. At these times, remind drivers to reduce speed.
For food vendors:
- Remind food vendors that they should always cover their food, but especially during harmattan season to avoid dust settling on the food, causing contamination.
For farmers and hunters:
- During harmattan especially, avoid setting bushes and other vegetation on fire.
Other guidance on daily weather forecasts
Length of forecast: The morning weather forecast should aim to be approximately two minutes. If there is a farmer program in the evening, the weather forecast can be broadcast during the program, and the forecast should aim to be 30-60 seconds in length. However, if the forecast is severe, it may take longer to announce all the necessary information and to explain it so that all your listeners can understand. Note that every forecast is actually an update of the previous forecast since it overrides the previous one. Thus, afternoon forecasts are updates of morning forecasts and evening forecasts are update of afternoon forecasts.
Frequency of daily forecasts: Once in the morning before farmers go to the field as part of the news broadcast, and once in the evening when there is a farmer program.
Technical level of language in forecast: Weather forecasts should use simple and clear language understandable by ALL listeners. Announcers should avoid using technical terms about the weather to ensure that all listeners understand this important information.