Mariners make contributions to Cayman weather

From years of pursuing a personal
hobby, a few mariners have made significant contributions to Cayman weather
broadcasting.

Their curiosity started with
involvement with amateur radio and evolved into a broader interest in amateur
weather. Today Roger Corbin and Andrew Eden operate the web site
weatherincayman.com.

The site provides live weather from
a number of locations on Grand Cayman. Up-to-date weather information is
available online on Cayman Retreat, Crewe Road, Jackson Point, Savannah, Bosun
Bay Sand Bluff. Gun Bay, airport, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The information
includes local tide tables, forecasts, severe weather advisories, and regional
earthquakes. among other data.

“We do not try and compete with the
professionals,” said Mr. Corbin. “We just put out there what the professionals’
state. All of the weather sources we use are reliable in that they come from
weather stations on the island or official sources in the United States.”

For years Andrew Eden was reporting
by ham radio to the National Hurricane Center when there was bad weather in the
Cayman area. Mr. Corbin, himself a ham operator, also had an interest in
computers. Combined with Mr. Eden’s expertise in radio operations, they started
sending weather information directly to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
which feeds it to the US National Hurricane Center.

Gradually they found out that there
were other people on the island operating personal weather stations. They
agreed to share the weather information using their system, which enabled them
to post weather forecasts from the different locations.

According to Mr. Corbin, the
station is fully computerised and does not have to be manned constantly. The
computer sends the data, and his programme puts it together.

Rather than having to hunt down the
weather on the web from different channels, Mr. Corbin said they have put it
all together in one place for easier access.

“Whatever the government weather
site puts out, we put it on the weather site. We do not edit. If they publish
George Town is under 25 feet of water, we put it out there as is. But we are
very careful to say, this comes from Government Information Services.

“If my station shuts down, all the
other local personal weather operators would keep reporting the weather in
specific areas,” said Mr. Corbin. He added that the web site is hosted in New
York, and if his Cayman service were to go down completely — as was the case
after Hurricane Ivan — updates would still be available from links to a number
of other official sites.

He also said the ground stations
are very important because there can be some discrepancies from satellite
readings. “I am not saying they cannot be accurate,” he said, but Cayman is but
a small dot on the map, and a satellite reading can be off by a couple of
miles, whereas a ground station can give more accurate readings and up-to-date
information on weather in the surrounding area.

Ham radio operators also assist
with the weather, he said. “If the weather instruments stop working, a radio
operator can talk directly to the hurricane center and relay the conditions
they are experiencing over the last couple of hours.”

According to Mr Corbin, “every
mariner that has gone to sea knows you need nothing else to tell the weather
but a barometer.” 

“The reading tells us exactly what
is happening when a hurricane is approaching or leaving …”, said Mr. Eden.

The weather site has functioned
well over the years except for the few times the equipment was blown away by
hurricanes.

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