Weather service gets new tools for 2021 hurricane season

With the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season officially underway, Cayman’s forecasters are making final preparations in anticipation of what is expected to be a busy season.

“One of the shortcomings of the national weather service was our website … because when hurricane season hits, we get so many hits on our website that it shuts down computer services’ website,” said John Tibbetts the director general of the Cayman Islands National Weather Service, speaking on Cayman Crosstalk on Tuesday.

The new website is expected to be up and running in mid-July and, when it does come online, Tibbetts said it will be hosted on servers located off-island.

Another new addition to the NWS weather monitoring tools is automatic weather observation stations, the first of which is expected to come online in by the end of the week.

An automatic weather observation tower. Photo Taneos Ramsay

“They are going to start to put up the instruments up on it [on Tuesday], so we are going to have it up and running by the end of the week or into early next week,” said Tibbetts.

The automatic weather station is currently located on the NWS’ Agnes Way site. It is the first tower of a series of automatic weather observation stations which will be rolled out across the islands. Tibbetts said each station is designed to withstand a category 5 hurricane.

“When we had Ivan go through, nothing stood up,” said Tibbetts. “We didn’t have any equipment that could properly measure the winds in Hurricane Ivan.

The automatic weather observation station is currently located on the site of where the national weather service intends to build its multi-million-dollar weather facility. Construction on the facility is expected to begin later this year.

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