Station Network

Background

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.

Network Distribution

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. There are two types of observations; namely

  1. Manual Observation Stations (MOS), which has four categories
    1. Synoptic
    2. Rainfall
    3. Climate
    4. Agrometeorological stations
  2. Automatic Observation Stations (AOS), which has three categories
    1. Automatic Weather Station (AWS)
    2. Solar Radiation stations
    3. Wind stations

 

Synoptic 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.

Rainfall Stations

These are equipped with rain gauges for recording daily rainfall amounts. There are a total of 53 rainfall stations across the country.

Climate Stations

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.

Agrometeorological Stations

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.

AUTOMATIC OBSERVATION STATIONS (AOS)

An automatic observation station (AOS) is an automated version of the manual observation station to enable measurements all the time of the day for a particular place, including remote areas.

AWS

Getting more information on the atmosphere, more frequently and from more and remote locations was determined to be one of the key elements to improving forecasts and warnings. Thus, Automatic Weather Stations were installed across the country in 21 locations (see map) from 2013. AWS information helps LMS increase the accuracy and timeliness of its forecasts and warnings, which is one of the overriding goal of LMS.

Automatic weather stations are used for increasing the number and reliability of surface observations. They do this by:

 

  • Increasing the density of an existing network by providing data from new sites and from sites which are difficult to access and are inhospitable;
  • Supplying, for manned stations, data outside the normal working hours;
  • Increasing the reliability of the measurements by using sophisticated technology and modern, digital measurement techniques;
  • Ensuring homogeneity of networks by standardizing the measuring techniques;
  • Satisfying new observational needs and requirements;
  • Etc.

        

The weather elements measured by the AWS are:

  • Air Temperature
  • emperature
  • Wind Speed and Direction
  • Pressure
  • Radiation
  • Relative Humidity
  • Rainfall
  • Visibility
  • Sunshine duration
  • Cloud height and type
  • Soil thermometers
  • Snow depth

      

     

SOLAR RADIATION

There are three solar radiation station measuring Global irradiance, direct irradiance and diffused irradiance at intervals of 1 minute, hourly and daily.

PICTURE

WIND STATIONS

There are 6 wind stations, measuring Wind Speed and Wind Directions at heights 50m, 40m and 30m, as well as temperature and humidity.

WIND STATIONS

There are 6 wind stations, measuring Wind Speed and Wind Directions at heights 50m, 40m and 30m, as well as temperature and humidity.

LINK TO MAP and PICTURES

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