domingo, 18 de outubro de 2009

O meteorologista amador de Macau

Macau's amateur weatherman warned off

Fox Yi Hu
South China Morning Post
October 18, 2009

A popular amateur weatherman in Macau known for his accurate typhoon forecasts has run into a spot of turbulence.

Towin Mak, a singer-songwriter and self-confessed meteorology addict, has been monitoring Macau's weather for more than two decades. His typhoon forecasts on the internet often came earlier than the meteorological bureau's and have helped hundreds of residents plan their outdoor activities around the weather.

But the internet account with which he made forecasts in a popular online forum has been banned. In July, he was invited to the Judiciary Police bureau for a "chat", where an officer told Mak that while it was not against the law to post weather forecasts, he should avoid causing a public disturbance with his forecasts.

A police bureau spokesman said it would not take action against unofficial weather forecasts on the internet unless someone claimed to be a victim of such forecasts.

Despite the ban, it would be difficult to prise Mak away from his favourite obsession.

"I am addicted to it. In the past 28 years, I've been trying to follow almost every storm." He depends on the constantly updated meteorological graphs from Taiwan's observatory website to analyse typhoons, often staying up late to study the latest graphs. "When Typhoon Koppu came, I stayed up until 7am."

Mak began posting forecasts online in 2006 - and found fans in residents who relied on travel on the cross-harbour bridges, casino workers who were contract-bound to go to work in all weather, and parents ferrying their children around.

Before he went online, friends, relatives and even shipping firms that had heard of him would call him with inquiries during the windy season.

Mak admitted that his forecasts sometimes differed from those by the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau, but he stood by the accuracy of most of his forecasts. For instance, when Typhoon Morakot was near in early August, Mak issued typhoon signal No 8 but the observatory hoisted only signal No 3. Mak defended his prediction, saying the wind speeds at the three cross-harbour bridges were 85km/h to 90km/h - higher than the 63km/h mark used to justify a signal No 8.

In Hong Kong, a private weather-forecasting website, known as the "underground observatory", has been running since 1995.

The Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau of Macau did not respond to an inquiry.

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