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Abstract

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) operates a radar station network, providing data continuity back to 1994, which is unique for southern Africa. The Geographical Resources Analysis Support System (GRASS) GIS was introduced to the SAWS “Meteorological Systems and Technology” (METSYS) radar research center in 1999 where it is still used for meteorologic research. The predominantly convective nature of precipitation in southern Africa creates a public demand for severe weather information systems for convective cells. Such a system was set up in GRASS GIS, using rule-based expert systems to classify convective clouds. It isolates storm cells from stacks of reflectivity fields and derives information about their development stages. This data is both archived and also used to send out customised messages to target groups in specific areas of interest. Further, nationwide HTML-maps can be created, serving as an interactive front-end for a web-based weather information system. This service can also be made accessible from remote locations by broad-casting it as a datastream from satellite through the Worldspace digital radio system.