Radar to put Cayman on map

| 29/07/2009

(CNS): What has been described as a weather black hole round the Cayman Islands will be a thing of the past by the end of 2011 with the installation of a Doppler weather radar system on Grand Cayman. Part of a project that offers the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) access to US$5.5 million (€4.16 million) from the European Commission (EC) to establish an early warning radar system in the Cayman Islands, the radar will give Cayman its own severe weather warning system and enable us to track dangerous weather systems, such as hurricanes, ourselves.

Speaking at a specially convened conference on Wednesday morning, to announce the project, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush explained that the system will cover a range of 400km (250 miles), providing weather surveillance over all three islands, as well as surrounding maritime areas. It will also be linked to a regional radar network, including in Trinidadand Tobago, Barbados, Belize and Guyana.

The LoGB said that while the EU is funding the bulk of the project the Cayman Islands government will commit €500,000 in kind directed towards land acquisition, the provision of services and local technical support. Through the CIAA, Cayman will also assume responsibility for co-ordinating the technical aspects of the project and for operating and maintaining the radar once it is installed.

“When it comes to disaster management, it is particularly true that strength is to be found in numbers. And while the establishment of this radar system will no doubt strengthen our local disaster management capability, it will even more importantly enable us to better contribute towards regional disaster management and mitigation efforts,” Bush added.

A technical team from the Caribbean Meteorological Organisation (CMO) is currently in Cayman for discussions with Director of Meteorological Services Fred Sambula and other government officials and to explore potential sites for locating the weather radar, after which its specifications and the types of structure to accommodate the system will be decided.

Coordinating CMO Director Tyrone Sutherland said that the radar would be installed on Grand Cayman, and although a location has not yet been identified, he said the eastern end of the island would be the most likely choice. It will beinstalled in as remote a location as possible away from residential areas but it also it had to be easily accessible and on as high ground as possible. The CIAA will tender for the supply and installation of the tower through an open works tender.

Sambula said the system would be a powerful, high-precision Doppler radar, which is particularly suited to the extremely heavy rainfall and thunderstorm activity experienced in tropical oceanic regions. He explained that it would allow easier observation and study of heavy rainfall, waterspouts and so-called ’freak’ storms. “The Doppler capabilities will enable forecasters to more accurately warn of wind shear problems which are hazardous to landing and departing aircraft,” he added  

The system is expected to boost the wider region’s ability to prepare for natural disasters, and once complete the Meteorological Services will provide radar information to the public, the media, and Hazard Management of the Cayman Islands (HMCI).

Minister for District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said recent history has shown how vulnerable Cayman is to hurricanes and other severe weather hazards. “Our weather experts have done a tremendous job in warning residents as these hazards approach but the timeliness and accuracy of warnings will be significantly improved with real-time information from a weather radar system,” she said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Mike Hennessy says:

    "Better late than never" has never been more true.  This is good news for Cayman and the Caribbean.  It also could be good news for everyone living along the U.S. Gulf Coast.  I know that forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center are frustrated by the lack of radar coverage in the Caribbean.  The more information USNHC and all forecasters have, the more accurate their predictions will be.  As those of us who survived Ivan and other nasty storms can testify that hurricane forecasting is a life or death matter.

    I asked Dr. Jeff Masters of the popular Weather Underground website for his reaction.  Here it is "Hey, that’s great news! Though 2011 is a bit of a long wait. Will the radar images be made available for free on the Internet?

    Interesting to hear about the radars on Barbados and Trinidad as well, I checked to see if they were available on the Internet, but couldn’t find them. Looks like the Barbados radar is still being tested:
    The Belize radar is available now http://www.hydromet.gov.bz/Latest_Radar_Image.htm"

    Just how available, to whom and by what means that information will be is an interesting question.  Hopefully it will be available to everyone or at least to forecasters who need it.  I really fail to see any reason why such important information wouldn’t be publicly available.  

    While the USNHC is the gold standard for hurricane forecasting, many private firms in the U.S. such as the Weather Channel and a number of TV stations along the U.S. Gulf Coast have equipment and forecasters every bit as good, if not better, than the mechanical andhuman resources available at the Hurricane Center.  Just as Cayman depends on its Met Office to provide specific forecasts to supplement the broad overviews provided by the USNHC so do the TV stations in hurricane prone zone of the U.S. Gulf Coast.  It would be a shame if they were deprived of information that could quite possibly save lives and protect property because of keeping vital radar information under cover.

    As a footnote, during my brief tenure as News Director at Rooster 101 I along with then Program Director Keith Michaels made a serious effort to bring a privately funded doppler radar to Grand Cayman that conceivably could have been functioning in time for the 2008 storm season.  Nothing came of it, but hopefully that effort helped in some small way to bring about or at least speed up the creation of the Caribbean radar network.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yes this is extra spending but it is something we have needed for a while although I would’ve preferred if they got a normal radar rather than a weather radar so we could try track down more of the drug-trafficking and make our airways safer.  As far as the jobs go, you do realise that this will also be creating jobs for civil servants as someone is going to have run it and do maintenance etc. on it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Headline: Civil Servants FightFor Jobs

    Headline right above: Radar to put Cayman on map

    It seems to me the first thing the government needs to stop doing is SPENDING MONEY THEY DON’T have in the bank!

    You are going to be (yes.. I am sure this will happen) cutting Civil Servant jobs and then in the same breath you are spending 3/4 of a million dollars on doppler radar?  Come on, give me a break.  This is robbing from Peter to give to Paul.

  4. job says:

    Enough with all the PPM and UDP Bull s**t already!

    These people are politicians, it is their job, it doesn’t matter who coloured in the particular piece of paper.

    It’s what they are for, all they have to do is sit down, shut up, and make life better for the country. Stop making them more important than they are.  

    Politicians? Don’t vote, it just encourages them!

  5. Anonymous says:

    It doesn’t really matter whose "project" it is.  This is something that will be very beneficial to the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean as a whole so let’s just be thankful for it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you Jedi Dread…….but u know it should be pointed out that this project was started by Minister Clifford last year under the PPM Government. Yes there is nothing wrong with giving credit where credit is due without arguing and being confrontational. I’m sure the UDP will have their projects to take credit for in due course but this isn’t one of them

  7. Jedi Dread says:

    Nice and much needed!

    Folks, this is something positive for Cayman, so please don’t UDP/PPM this thing… enough is enough already.

    Can’t we all just get along?


    – Jedi Dread –