The climate observations of Lesotho started as far back as the 1890s. The early observations were carried out by missionaries at few trade and administrative settlements areas around the country. These early climate observations signalled the start of national climate observation network. At a later stage climate observations and monitoring activities became part of the institutionalised public service responsibility of the then Department of Works and Hydrological Services. In 1973 the Lesotho Meteorological Services was established as a Division under the Department of Water Affairs to oversee weather and climate monitoring activities in the country. With the establishment of LMS, dedicated budgetary provisions were made available by Government to, among other activities, develop national climate record and this necessitated the expansion of weather and climate station network to cover the various climatic zones of the country.
LMS mans a network of meteorological stations across the country for weather and climate monitoring. The stations undertake routine meteorological observations of weather elements at internationally agreed time frames. The stations are divided into four categories, namely; synoptic, rainfall, climate and agrometeorological stations.
These are weather stations fully equipped with various sensors and equipment for various weather elements. The stations form part of the global observational system of the World Meteorological Organization and hence they routinely report complete observations of weather elements. There are a total of four synoptic stations in the country. Out of these, three of them, Maseru, Mokhotlong and Qacha’s Nek are registered with WMO. Plans are underway to upgrade some of the stations so that they can be registered with WMO. Although these stations are required to report on a 24-hour basis they operate only day time due to staff constraints of meteorological observers.
These are equipped with rain gauges for recording daily rainfall amounts. There are a total of 53 rainfall stations across the country.
The main purpose of the stations is to carry out temperature and precipitation observations. These are a total of 37 climate stations across the country.
These stations make meteorological observations for application primarily for farming activities. They undertake observations of meteorological elements which include air temperature, soil temperature, precipitation, evaporation and sunshine duration. The network is mainly confined to the lowlands areas where most of the farming activities take place. It is planned that the network should be expanded to cover the mountain areas to support winter crops farming practices. Of the 37 climate stations, 8 serve for agrometeorological purposes.
Click here to view the map of network of LMS stations.