Local weather guru steps up

After 30 years in the industry, local weather guru John Tibbetts has been appointed the new director general of the Cayman Islands National Weather Service. 

Mr. Tibbetts was promoted from his 14-year role as the service’s operational supervisor and more recently as chief meteorologist. He succeeds director general Fred Sambula, who retired in May after 22 years of service.  

It has not been decided who will take on the role of chief meteorologist. 

Mr. Sambula said Tuesday that the service is not only important to the Caribbean, but also to the world. 

“It’s important that whoever takes over will continue to do a good job,” Mr. Sambula said. 

“I’m glad the service is moving forward. I hope the ministry continues to look after the needs of the service. It’s a very important part of the community, and the scene both nationally and internationally.”  

Mr. Tibbetts was off island on family vacation this week and was not available for comment. 

He began his career in weather forecasting as an observer, hired to monitor and record weather patterns, before he moved on to become the Operational Weather Forecaster, responsible for producing daily forecasts, as well as weather warnings for the public and the aviation industry. 

Mr. Tibbetts was promoted to chief meteorologist of the MET office in 1999, prior to it changing to the Cayman Islands National Weather Service. 

Mr. Tibbetts lists his career highlight as working through Hurricane Ivan, where as a key member of the National Emergency Operations Committee he provided information to the government and the general public. 

He said the subsequent formation of Hazard Management Cayman Islands and the National Weather Service were important milestones in the evolution of hurricane preparedness and meteorology in the Cayman Islands. 

Chief officer Stran Bodden said succession planning, alongside a career characterized by outstanding service, resulted in the appointment which began this month. 

Mr. Tibbetts’s new role will include ensuring all meteorological equipment is properly maintained and accurate, liasing with regional weather services, as well as working with the Caribbean Meteorological Institute and the World Meteorological Organization to enable the training of local staff. 

Mr. Tibbetts earned a bachelor’s degree in science at Mississippi State University and trained as a forecaster at the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology in Barbados.  

He was off-island and unable to comment at the time of print. 

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell welcomed his appointment and said that it demonstrated a model civil service career path, as well as the government’s commitment to developing such a vital national service.  

John-Tibbetts

Mr. Tibbetts

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