CI National Weather Service launched

The
Cayman Islands National Weather Service was launched as a stand-alone
department last week with an all-day event appropriately called National
Weather Service Day.

Although
it was actually established in the early 1980s, the National Weather Service
was previously operated by the Civil Aviation Authority and later the Cayman Islands
Airports Authority.

Fred
Sambula, who now has the title director general in the newly formed entity, said
the new standing for the National Weather Service would mean it takes on more responsibilities.

“In
the past, what we did was to satisfy the [Cayman Islands Airport Authority],
but now we will focus more on satisfying decisions on a policy level,” he said.
“We will focus more on disaster risk reduction through providing timely and
sound scientific information.”

Mr.
Sambula said the Service’s ambit had now become much wider.  Some of its responsibilities, as listed in
the National Weather Service Bill, 2010, include: establishing and maintaining
a national network of meteorological and seismic stations; issuing tsunami
warnings; forecasting the weather conditions and state of the atmosphere;
providing information and advice to the Governor in Cabinet of severe weather
conditions likely to affect the safety of human life or property in the
Islands; collecting, collating, compiling, recording, archiving and making
available meteorological reports and information; and promoting the advancement
of meteorological science by means of meteorological research and investigation
or otherwise.

Regardless
of its new responsibilities, Mr. Sambula said giving forecast advice for
aviation and marine interests would remain a primary task.

Mr.
Sambula said the National Weather Service had 10 staff members on Grand Cayman,
but none in Cayman Brac at the current time. 

“We’ll
have to expand at some point,” he said, not only referring to the Brac, but the
whole Weather Service as it begins to address its many new responsibilities.
“We will continue to evolve.”

Chief
Meteorologist John Tibbetts said creating the National Weather Service as a
stand-alone entity and giving it new responsibilities allows the Cayman Islands
to catch-up and in some cases surpass other government meteorological
structures in the region.

“It’s
a very critical step in the development of the National Weather Service,” he
said.

Minister
of Works and Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly gave the keynote address
during the National Weather Service Day opening ceremony, which was held under
tents on the lawn of the Glass House government administration building. 

“It
is in the interest of every government… to support and strengthen their
national weather service to ensure that adequate capacity and resources are
mobilised to provide effective monitoring and data collection on natural hazards,”
she said.

During
the ceremony, the National Weather Service’s new logo was unveiled.  The logo shows the sun, clouds and water over
a field of green, with three stars – representing the three Cayman Islands –
overhead.

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