Cayman Islands to get weather radar system

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, July 31, 2009 – The Cayman Islands is to benefit from a Doppler weather radar system, part of a project which will give the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) access to US$5.5 million from the European Commission (EC).

A technical team from the Caribbean Meteorological Organisation (CMO) is visiting the Cayman Islands for discussions with Director of Meteorological Services Fred Sambula and other government officials and to explore potential sites for the early warning radar system.

“Our weather experts have done a tremendous job in warning residents as these hazards approach, but the timeliness and accuracy of warnings will be significantly improved with real-time information from a weather radar system,” said Minister for District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.

Sambula said the radar will allow easier observation and study of heavy rainfall, waterspouts and so-called ‘freak’ storms. The Doppler capabilities will enable forecasters to more accurately warn of wind shear problems which are hazardous to landing and departing aircraft.

“It has taken collective effort to reach this point, including numerous document exchanges, meetings, phone calls, presentations and discussions in Brussels, to ensure Cayman’s inclusion in the regional radar network,” said Cabinet Office Policy Analyst Christina Rowlandson.

Coordinating CMO Director Tyrone Sutherland said the radar will be linked to others in the region, including the four recently installed in Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Barbados and Guyana.

EC Head of Delegation, Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni said the project is a key component of the EU’s strategy for supporting disaster risk reduction through new programmes and projects.

“Establishing an early warning system in Grand Cayman will boost the region’s ability to prepare for natural disasters. It will save lives and property and by extension, will promote the social welfare of Caribbean people,” he said.

Once the radar project is complete, the Meteorological Services will provide radar information to the public, the media, and Hazard Management of the Cayman Islands (HMCI).

Special interest groups will also be advised via the Internet and the television media, including aviation and marine interests, water resources management and local farmers, as well as other Cayman Islands users.