Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Forecasting Malaysia's merry weather

As you can see, I'm still complaining about the heat during this Chinese New Year. On returning from my obligatory visits to my friends and relatives on Sunday, I could feel my arms tingling with a strange sensation. Apart from my crown, they were the most exposed parts of my body to the relentless rays of the sun. And yesterday when my sisters-in-law and their families came to see us, well, the glare from the hot afternoon sun was almost unbearable. 

Are we going to get a respite from this exceptionally good weather anytime soon? According to and the Weather Underground websites, there are good chances of thunderstorms in the area soon. (In this type of weather, a 30 percent chance of precipitation is good by my standard.) These websites are predicting rain until the weekend. Good news. I can only hope that their predictions will be correct.

But these are foreign websites. Why would a foreign website be able to predict weather conditions better than a local, hands-on expert, right? After all, we have our Malaysian Meteorological Department here on our shores and they have been watching our weather long? More than 50 or 60 years?

Oops, I was wrong. I've just gone over to the MMD website and it's shown there that they began observing the weather conditions in Penang and Malacca since 1883. That's 127 years already! That's an incredible achievement by anyone's standards. Something to be proud of, actually.

They even have a Vision and a Mission. Again, from the MMD website, their Vision is "to be a world-class meteorological center providing excellent services nationally and internationally" while their Mission is to be "committed to providing effective meteorological and seismological services for improved protection of life, property and the environment, increased safety on land, at sea and in the air, enhanced quality of life and sustainable economic growth".

Unfortunately, stating a Vision and a Mission is one thing; putting them into practice is quite another. And these lofty aspirations of the MMD do not extend or translate easily to the services they tout on their own website.

True, anyone wanting to know how the local weather conditions are like can always find a general weather forecast for the whole country from the MMD website. But unfortunately, that's all. I hit a blank wall today when I attempted to find the specific forecast for the major towns and tourist destinations in the country. I was surprised and disappointed. This service used to work marvellously several months ago but now, it's a completely different story. If the MMD knows about it, they are not even reacting to it. It leaves a sad impression on visitors to their website. A really frustrating impression. Notch one negative point for the Malaysia Boleh hype.

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