This paper describes Rainwatch, a stand-alone, prototype Geographic Information System (GIS) application that automates and streamlines key aspects of rainfall data management, processing, and visualization for West Africa. Rainwatch is an interactive Map Objects Visual Basic application that permits the tracking of critical rainfall attributes beneficial to farmers. Using the simple-to-understand concept of cumulative rainfall plots, the program allows users to compare rainfall for any year against six percentile thresholds for a historical reference period (1965-2000). These thresholds separate dry, normal, and wet conditions. Users also can compare rainfall data between stations for a given season or between seasons for a particular station, and spatially interpolate rainfall for a single event, defined period, or an entire season. The system is dynamic and automatically updates all charts and tables as new data are added to the database. Thus, for this poor and drought-prone region, Rainwatch can help reduce delay in rainfall data processing, facilitate communication between data collection agencies, and generally make rainfall data more accessible and meaningful.

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Department of Geography, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

CIMMS and School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma