Guyana commissions $700M Doppler system
… No more inaccurate weather reports
A $700M state-of-the-art weather station has been launched and authorities say that Guyana will soon be able to go online on the internet and check real-time weather.
In fact, Guyana and a number of other Caribbean countries will be linked as the region develops an early warning system.
The National Weather Watch Centre, located at Hyde Park, Timehri, has been dogged by delays from the onset. Several months ago, construction started but stopped after experts said it was too close to the air traffic controllers’ tower at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and that the new radar would have interfered with equipment there, endangering flights.
Over $50M was spent to abandon that site and relocate to Hyde Park, officials said yesterday.
The European Union/Government of Guyana project saw this country plugging around $100M.
Yesterday’s event also marked the official launch of this year’s Agriculture Month which is being celebrated under the theme of “Building a New Agricultural Sector Along a Low Carbon Path”.
Tyron Sutherland, Co-ordinating Director of Caribbean Meteorological Organisation, speaking to a packed gathering which included Acting President, Prime Minister Sam Hinds, Ministers and members of the Diplomatic Corps, admitted that the road to yesterday was long and difficult.
With the old radar in Guyana installed over 30 years old and obsolete, a $13.2M euros agreement was signed to install four new ones in a number of countries including Guyana, Belize, Barbados and Trinidad.
The radar, built in Germany, is housed in a 20-meter high tower that will clear trees in the vicinity and have a 400-kilometer range that will be linked digitally to other radar stations in the region. Information will be exchanged with other weather stations giving the forecasters real-time information to work with.
Sutherland explained that there will be real time images of current weather patterns that will allow forecasters to more accurately predict possible severe weather.
However, he warned the personnel to not misuse the system as it was no ordinary “car” but a Rolls Royce.
Explaining further, he said that analyzing the information come from an area that has a lot not written about it.
Darren Nurse of Courtney Benn Construction Company acknowledged that Guyana was at one time “behind” in the radar technology but is now ahead of the field with the commissioning the Doppler Radar. He echoed Sutherland’s warnings that the equipment should not be misused since it “is our baby too”.
EU’s Ambassador to Guyana, Geert Heikens, while bemoaning the delays caused by the relocation, lauded the government for taking the initiative to move it when the project was threatened.
The EU is pleased with Guyana now having the possibility of an early detection weather system. He pointed that Doppler Project gains new meaning when taken against the talks of climate change and President Bharrat Jagdeo’s bid to have Guyana rewarded for preserving its forests.
The EU was also playing its role in the whole project as was evidenced by a current $4M Euros programme to replace mangrove trees and other agriculture projects.
Secretary General of CARICOM, Edwin Carrington, disclosed that in 2003, the EU and CARICOM signed a $13M Euros agreement for four weather stations in the Caribbean area.
Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, noted that Guyana is celebrating its progress in agriculture at a time when the world is witnessing major crises: financial, food, and more recently, the effects of climate change.
“Whilst Guyana has done fairly well with regards to the financial crisis and the food crisis due to our diligence and sound macroeconomic policies and the success of the Grow More Food Campaign, Climate change represents a different challenge.”
He noted that for the agriculture sector, favourable weather conditions are critical.
“We may have the best planting material, best technologies and may have invested a significant financing and our time, yet extreme weather events, such as typhoon Ketsana that struck the Philippines and surrounding countries can devastate all of that in a matter of hours. Climate change and global warming will mean even more severe weather conditions, not only in Guyana, but around the world.”
While the Doppler Weather Radar may not be able to prevent a drought or a flood, it can provide Guyana with improved forecasting accuracies, strengthen early warning systems and as such mitigate and even prevent losses from happening, the Minister stressed.
“The Doppler Weather Radar is a crucial milestone in the modernisation of the Hydrometeorological Service, whose 44th Birthday we are also celebrating today.” As part of the wider modernisation programme, our Ministry is envisaging that as the Hydromet Service expands we will one day in the near future centralise its entire operations to Hyde Park Timehri.”
All Guyanese should be proud of the new technology, Persaud said.
The facility, which boasts a tower, and other buildings, will be on 24 hours basis and run by a 12-man crew.
Prime Minister Hinds acknowledged that the old system had placed the Hydromet Office in a spot quite a few times in the past because of faulty information. It will no longer be the case as farmers, miners and even party-goers can benefit from up to date information.
Chief Hydromet Officer, Bhaleka Seulall, noted that the outcome was a realisation of how important the project is to Guyana and timely since resources have been made available to her department for work to continue.
Meanwhile, St Joseph’s High School student, Joshua Hammichand, has won the Caribbean Agricultural Reseach and Development Institute’s (CARDI) for the best CXC Agricultural Student in the region. He was presented with cash prizes and a certificate by Minister Persaud and CARDI’s Executive Director, Arlington Chesney.
Unveiling the plaque to commission the station was wife of Minister Persaud, Kamini Persaud.