Severe weather, blackout compromised national weather watch centre – Dr. Cummings


Severe weather conditions and unstable utilities have constrained the work of the National Weather Watch Centre at Hyde Park, Timehri, East Bank Demerara (EBD), according to National Weather Service Director Dr. Garvin Cummings.

Dr. Cummings said this on Wednesday, during a virtual stakeholder meeting facilitated by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) to fully activate the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) in light of the nationwide flooding.

The Director related that on May 25, there was significant rainfall across Guyana.

Importantly, on that particular date, accompanying the rainfall was “a significant electrical issue” at the weather watch centre. This, Dr. Cummings related, rendered the doppler weather radar dysfunctional and it has remained dysfunctional since.

“Therefore, it means that our nowcasting weather forecasting has been severely restricted because we cannot observe the weather in near real time,” he highlighted.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, nowcasting is weather forecasting on a very short term period of up to two hours.  The doppler weather radar is a type of radar used to locate precipitation (such as rainfall), calculate its motion, and estimate its type.

Not only was the radar affected but Dr. Cummings also related that a power outage caused the centre’s telephone line and internet to shut down. These, he said, were only restored on June 4.

National Weather Service Director Dr. Garvin Cummings (Photo: DPI)

In May, on his Facebook page, Dr. Cummings wrote that the rains affected the utilities at the centre and encouraged individual’s desirous of engaging the forecast desk to contact them via the mobile number 624-0308.

“So we had a 10-day period where all of our utilities at the national weather watch centre would have been compromised,” he lamented on Wednesday.

Later, he added: “The need to move the national weather watch centre from that location for this reason is really underscored by the last month that the facility is often compromised when we have severe weather.”

To support the CDC’s National Emergency Operating Centre (NEOC) and flood mitigation efforts, the Director emphasised that this main forecasting centre should have access to stable utilities.

He reminded the audience that the Weather Service has asked to move the weather observatory to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), where there are more reliable utilities. Additionally, he related that this would allow the main weather forecasting office to move to Georgetown.

Earlier this year, the Department of Public Information (DPI) reported that Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, during a recent tour of the National Weather Watch Centre, said: “I have received a number of complaints. First of all, the suitability of the people who are here, they prefer to be at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), and I am exploring the possibility of acquiring a space at that airport for the office to be housed to accommodate more persons.”

Though the operations of the weather centre have been impacted, Dr Cummings, nevertheless, said that there will be a high risk of flooding up until July or mid-August, as excessively wet conditions may prevail.


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