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Disaster Management Updates in Progress Weather Radar under repair

Cayman Conversation 24 Apr, 2024 Follow News

Disaster Management Updates in Progress Weather Radar under repair

By Stuart Wilson

Disaster management is always a concern in the Caribbean and during a recent sit-down on ‘Cayman Conversations’, panelists discussed updates to Cayman’s emergency threat detection capabilities.

“We are hoping to have some good news for the public regarding our national radar system and some of the extensive work that has been done behind the scenes,” noted Chief Meteorologist, Mr. John Tibbetts.

“The National Weather Service’s radar (The Kearney Gomez Doppler Radar) has been down since October of last year and we have been working with Cabinet, as well as the Premier’s Office to try and get the radar back online. There is a robust plan to make sure it keeps functioning for time to come,” he added.

The radar is now 12 years old and has produced great results during that time, according to officials from the National Weather Service.

They explained that up until recently there were, “….. really no problems over the years.”

Mr. Tibbetts explained the importance of knowing what to expect and why such systems are important and worth investing in.

“When we had the monster norwester, it showed that we still have to be on guard even when it is to hurricane season.

“That norwester destroyed one of our sensors in the Harbour. That has now been replaced and its height increased to protect it in the future so we do not have to go through the process of replacing it again so easily.”

He noted that the Cayman Islands is also working to have a decent sized network of weather stations throughout the Islands, with sensors in schools and other key areas in Grand Cayman, the Brac and Little Cayman.

“A lot of data will come from that,” he remarked..

“With the impacts of climate change on the world, some of what is lost in the discussion are the increase of extreme events. However, when we look at what’s going on in the Middle East with so much rainfall, this is an example of that,” said Mr. Tibbetts.

Research indicates that there will be an increase of rapid intensification events and the Northwest Caribbean is hot bed for such occurrences because of climate change and the increased ‘heat energy’ that is stored in the water.

“We have all of the ingredients here for that,” said officials.

They added that, “Life will get more strenuous and much more hazardous because of these factors in the coming years.”

“If the forecast plays out, we will have back to back years with 20 or more storms.

“That increases the possibility that the Cayman Islands will get hit not just by a weak storm but by a major storm. Those are the ones that change your life and the countries in terms of where they are financially socially and everything else.,” said Mr. Tibbetts, who added that it can take up to four or five years to recover from such events.

“Calamities around the world should put us on guard and we should be aware and not put our heads in the sand. The more info we have the more empowered we are,” he said.

Cayman’s Weather Service has also added three trainee observers and one trainee forecaster to their team.

Officials said they were glad to take the extra expertise and manpower onboard, as the National Weather service is now in a better position to respond to events.

Mr. Tibbetts thanked the gov for supporting the recruitment and training process and added that he was hoping to have our national weather service building some time during the next  hurricane Season, whilst acknowledging that, “…It has been taking some time.”

Other projects being worked within the Islands’ preparedness catalog include a Flood Sensor Network,” according to Hazard Management Director, Mrs. Dani Coleman.

She explained that with the sensors, flood vulnerable areas that are low lying will have a network that feeds info into the office at the Hazard Management, so they know what the levels are.

“What’s happening around the world in terms of weather is something we have to stay on top of,” said Mrs. Coleman, who added that her office is doing a lot of work with elderly people and talking with everyone to be a ready as possible for any time of disaster.

We are open to working with schools, service clubs, businesses and anyone who wants us to come and talk about best practices to respond to events such as evacuation plans for tsunamis, earthquakes, and hurricane; all of which may differ vastly in terms of the appropriate response.

She assured the public that the government of the Cayman Island was doing everything in its power to stay ahead of concerns.

“We have exciting new technology coming, demonstrating cutting edge in the region,” she remarked.

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