BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Brunei Darussalam Meteorological Department (BDMD) is jumping on the social media bandwagon to disseminate verified information and quell misleading or fake news regarding weather.

The department is determined to build its engagement with the public in order to foster a society more knowledgable about weather and climate issues.

Weather forecaster and officer in charge of Climate Services, Harnina Morani, said that this initiative began a few of years ago to capitalise on the rising popularity of social media in the sultanate.

“We want the public to be more familiar with the common weather patterns in our country. If they are more knowledgable in these areas, they are less likely to believe and spread panic-inducing viral messages [on] social media,” she said on the sidelines of the Third National Weather Briefing on Monday.

The meteorologist added that by raising awareness through social media platforms, the department hopes to curb the spread of false information pertaining to weather that has been spread online.

According to Harnina, the BDMD received numerous calls through its 114 Weather Line last month when a viral message regarding Brunei weather being affected by Typhoon Mangkhut was spread on social media.

Harnina Morani, Weather Forecaster at the Brunei Darussalam Meteorological Department speaking during the Third National Weather Briefing held on October 9, 2018. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

“Generally the calls that we get in a day are mostly from fishermen and individuals who intend to set out to sea, but when this viral message came out, it incited panic causing an influx of calls.”

She called for the public to make sure that messages received regarding extreme weather anomalies or natural disasters are legitimately issued by the relevant authorities, and to verify the messages with the department through its 114 Weather Line.

This year, through its social media accounts, the department has issued a total of 216 weather warnings, with 81 warnings issued between the months of July and September during the south west monsoon.

Weather warnings are issued to warn the public of hazardous weather which may cause property damage as well as major disruption to daily activities.

Last year there were 272 weather warnings issued.

The Third National Weather Briefing was held to inform the public including private stakeholders of the upcoming Inter-Monsoon season which will last from this month until the end of November.

Forecast by the department showed that this will be a regular inter-monsoon season, therefore, the public is reminded to prepare for multiple thunderstorms, as there may be instances of flash floods.

According to rainfall data by the department, the inter-monsoon season typically brings the second highest amount of seasonal rainfall, with 649mm accumulated through the months of October and November.