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South African law would jail meteorologists for weather forecasts

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Should weather forecasters need permission from the government?

Weather forecasts are often unreliable but would you send your local weather forecaster to jail for 10 years? A newly proposed law in South Africa would punish unauthorized weather forecasts with jail time and fines, according to the Mother Nature Network.

The law would require state-sanctioning for any weather forecasts issues outside of the government's South African Weather Service (SAWS). More from MNN:

As written, the South African Weather Service Amendment Bill would affect not just TV weathermen and online weather sites but also community-based weather services. First offenses would be punished with a fine or up to 5 million rand (about $630,000) or five years in jail. The fines and jail time would be doubled for subsequent offenses.

Previously, it was inaccurately reported by several news outlets that meteorologists would be punished for issuing inaccurate forecasts. The proposed law, if put into effect, would affect weather outlets including the SA Weather and Disaster Observation Service (SAWDOS), which relies on weather reports submitted by the public. SAWDOS was recently credited with issuing timely warnings for three storms that may have helped to mitigate property losses and damage.

"As the amendment bill now reads, nobody will be able to issue any warning of approaching severe weather," SAWDOS founder Johan said in an interview with the Daily News. "Experience has taught us that to get permission from any institution takes time — that is if you can get hold of the designated person."

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