Thursday 5th April, 2018 – The Government of the Virgin Islands is installing twenty-four (24) new weather stations as it moves to re-establish a Territory wide multi hazard monitoring network.
The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is charged with the installation of the stations and is receiving support from regional and international partners.
The first station installed under the DDM network was completed last week in Capoon’s Bay, Tortola and was donated by the Caribbean Institute for Hydrology and Meteorology (CIMH). CIMH’s Technical Officer, Damien Prescod spent two weeks in the BVI supporting the re-establishment of stations at the T. Lettsome International Airport and at the Capoon’s Bay site.
Emergency Communications Manager, Mr. Jasen Penn said that the DDM is pleased to get the support of CIMH.
He said, “We have worked to establish a good relationship with CIMH and to support the establishment of the DEWETRA platform used by the Italian Civil Protection Department and designed by CIMA Research Foundation to support multi-risk mapping, forecasting and monitoring activities. Through this initiative we have been able to gain support from CIMH in enhancing the local networks and we are now in discussions with them about securing training in instrumentation maintenance and calibration practices.”
Mr. Penn further explained that the stations being installed will complement the other stations that are operated by the BVI Airports Authority and will be outfitted with the capability to transmit real time data to the hub housed at the DDM’s office.
“We are upgrading the stations to those that are World Meteorological Organization (WMO) compliant,” he said, adding, “The data collection systems and weather forecasting mechanisms that are being re-established form an important part of our hydro meteorological hazard monitoring networks. We use the data to support more credible forecasting for the Territory, guide the issuance of watches and warnings, support planning practices and improve climate resilient programmes and projects.”
Installation of two additional stations will be completed this week. These stations were donated by the Government of Italy through the CIMA Research Foundation as part of an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CIMA and the DDM.
Professor Luca Ferraris, President of the CIMA Research Foundation spoke about working in the region with CIMH.
He said, “We have worked with CIMH in the past and after learning about the impact of the 2017 events, we decided to donate two complete weather stations to the BVI. As part of our regional collaboration, CIMH is willing to provide support and training on how to install, maintain and calibrate weather related equipment.”
Additional stations have been purchased and will be installed throughout the Territory in the coming months with support from technicians from Campbell Scientific, a worldwide company that supplies these stations.
The DDM has been able to archive climate data that goes as far back as the 1970s. An MOU is in place with the BVI Airports Authority to ensure that all data is being captured and utilised to support the development process and informal agreement are in place with weather enthusiasts who operate personal stations in the Territory.