Advanced Technology Makes Extended Weather Forecasts Easier


Predicting Jamaica’s weather over a five-day period has become easier as a result of the use of advanced technology by the National Meteorological Service. The equipment has also facilitated high levels of accuracy in the forecasts.
“Weather prediction has become increasingly more accurate for the Meteorological Service. It is such that the Service is now able to have accurate five-day forecasts rather than being limited to 24-hour predictions,” Evan Thompson, Head of the Weather Branch said while addressing the weekly JIS Think Tank session on Wednesday, March 17.
The use of advanced technology by the National Meteorological Service has specific significance ahead of Jamaica’s participation in World Meteorological Day on Tuesday, March 23, which is being observed under the theme ‘Weather, Climate and Water in the Information Age’.
Dispelling doubts that Jamaica’s Meteorological Service could be lagging behind its first world counterparts, he said, “the Meteorological Service in Jamaica is actually at the forefront like many other developed nations across the world” adding that we are right up there with the state-of-the-art equipment that we use.
“The numerical prediction model that is being developed internationally enables longer forecast predictions,” he said, noting that “we are moving to longer term forecasting” and this is further evidence of Jamaica’s state-of-the-art system.
Pointing to specific technologies used by the National Meteorological Service, Mr. Thompson highlighted the Doppler radar, which is the only fully functional one of its type in the English-speaking Caribbean. The Doppler radar, he explained, was able to detect wind movement and revolution and thus was able to show tornadoes and whirlwinds.
In addition, he spoke of automatic weather stations. “There are automatic weather stations in several places in the island including one almost a hundred miles offshore on the Pedro Bank.” He noted that not many countries have meteorological equipment offshore and here Jamaica should be commended.
“Automatic data loggers for recording rainfall and other satellite interface equipment are also being used by the Meteorological Service, ” Mr. Thompson said.
Commenting on the observance of World Meteorological Day, Mr. Thompson explained, “we are trying to draw attention to the work of meteorologists, the work of the meteorological service in Jamaica and we also draw attention to the World Meteorological Organization”. Outlining some of the plans the organization has for World Meteorological Day, he revealed that public awareness would be high on the agenda this year with the National Meteorological Service positioning itself to become more visible as it sought to showcase the services it offered.
He said that there would be an exhibition in Montego Bay. “While we tend to focus most of our activities in Kingston, this year we have decided to host our activities at the Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay”. There will be a display of traditional weather observing instruments juxtaposed with some of the more advanced instruments that are being used by the National Meteorological Service.
Elaborating on some of the instruments that will be on display, the Weather Branch Head said, there would be “instruments like the digital barometer.we may also be able to set up a replica of the automatic weather station so that persons in the airport can see what it looks like. Miniature models and powerpoint displays will also be there for information.”
The National Meteorological Service is a part of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which coordinates weather information worldwide. As a member country of the WMO, Jamaica benefits by gaining access to advanced technology. The WMO is an agency of the United Nations.
World Meteorological Day commemorates the signing of the convention, which established the WMO, previously known as the International Meteorological Organization.Underscoring the need for the public to appreciate the work of the Meteorological Service, Mr. Thompson stated that the weather and meteorology services were a key part of the lives of people the world over.
This, he said, was “probably less evident in countries like Jamaica but for specialized groups such as fishermen, marine forecasts are essential to their livelihood and their security.”
Continuing, he said, “Other groups that use the National Meteorological Service include the tourism sector as well as insurance companies. However, for the general public, weather awareness tends to be seasonal.dependent on impending dangers such as storms or cold fronts.”
He concluded that with the use of technology, the National Meteorological Service would continue to get even better as it strove to provide the highest quality of service to the Jamaican public.

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