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The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH) says it is striving to improve its weather forecasting service in Burma.
Since 2008 the DMH has been providing one-day forecasts for 14 towns in each of Burma’s administrative regions and states. This year, the DMH is stepping up its work, hoping to provide three-day forecasts for more than 100 towns across the country.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), assisted by international meteorological experts, has pledged support for the installation of a second radar system, with installations in Rangoon, Mandalay and Kyaukphyu, Arakan State.
Despite the added range that the second radar system will bring, a general lack of scientific equipment and expertise remains a problem for the meteorologists, who are concerned about their ability to provide safety recommendations.
The DMH remains unable to accurately measure UV rays hitting Burma, as they do not have the correct equipment.
“Currently, we don’t have a device that can measure ultraviolet rays so we have to judge it by other factors such as temperature,” said Kyaw Moe Oo, deputy director of the DMH.
Kyaw Moe Oo said the department is to get assistance from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to announce warnings to the public on potentially damaging UV spikes.
Questioned on the topic of El Niño, the band of abnormally warm ocean water temperatures that causes heatwave across south Asia, Kyaw Moe Oo said it was unlikely to affect Burma this summer.
He said according to international weather monitors, the chance of Burma being hit by the full effect of El Niño’s this year is only five percent.
Temperatures are rising nevertheless as summer sets in, Dr Khin San Wai of Jivitadana Sangha Hospital in Rangoon has noted a surge in the amount of patients being admitted with heat-related conditions.
According to the doctor, the majority of patients are young children and the elderly.
Dr Khin San Wai issued advice: “The only way to deal with this is to stay out of the hot sunlight – especially the elderly and young children – if one must, then be sure to wear at least a cap.
“Also, there are cases of men drinking beer during daytime who then suffer from lethal heatstroke, so it’s best to avoid that.”