No individuals or organizations are allowed to publish weather forecasts to the public starting from May 1, according to a new regulation.
The regulation, issued by the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), states that only meteorological authorities are eligible to release public weather forecasts and alerts of extreme weather and disasters.
Violators can be fined up to 50,000 yuan ($8,062) for releasing unofficial forecasts and alerts or spreading false information, and could face criminal charges should casualties or property loss result from such announcements, read the regulation.
Several popular independent meteorology enthusiasts, who have been posting predictions and weather analysis online based on their own research and observations, said the ban would not have much of an effect on their activities.
However, they said they would refrain from "making forecasts" and focus instead on educating the public on meteorology and avoid publishing information that may disrupt the social order, the Shanghai Morning Post reported. The ban aims to prevent public panic caused by inaccurate weather information disseminated through private channels, the CMA explained earlier.
In March, a false alert about the approach of a Category 17 super typhoon to East China's Fujian Province went viral on local social media, leading some residents to cancel their travel plans for the approaching Tomb Sweeping Day holidays.
However, the regulation failed to define the boundaries for releasing meteorological information to the public, or how information published by commercial weather-related smartphone apps would be regulated.