Barbados’ early warning capacity and its ability to warn the public about impending hazards was significantly enhanced with the installation of a new radar system to the tune of approximately BDS$3.5 million.
Officials from the Barbados Meteorological Services (MET Office) are currently in the final stages of preparing the radar and are expected to be completed by month-end or early next month.
Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams, toured the new radar station with Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services, Sabu Best, on Tuesday.
Lauding the work done to install the new radar, Mr. Abrahams said it gave Barbados a level of independence and the ability to be reassured that the information being received was accurate.
“I feel more comfortable with the hurricane season approaching. The ability of the radar to function was completely compromised. It was prone to damage from any weather events. This is a complete overhaul of the radar station…, and the overall cost is around BDS$3.5 million,” he said.
The Minister explained that the project was closely managed and monitored by the MET Office Director, and noted that he was pleased overall with the department’s performance, and its ability to keep the public informed during challenging times.
Meanwhile, Mr. Best explained that the old radar dome and its electrical and mechanical components were dismantled at the end of January, and the new one installed.
“To date, most of that work is done, and we are at the stage now where we are actually finalising everything in the electrical and mechanical control room. Everything is running according to schedule right now, and we should be completed by the end of this month, early April,” Mr. Best said.
Once that process is completed, members of the public will begin to see information not only for Barbados, but for the regional and international community, by mid to late April.
“This new radar is going to improve our early warning capabilities and provide more information for the public…. We expect it will provide an improvement in terms of detecting, monitoring, and forecasting systems and even improve the warning because we get a lot more lead time,” he said.
Mr. Best further explained that while it would not look significantly different to the average user, the new radar would also add more value to what was there before with its improved capabilities and enhanced functions.
He said the MET Office would be able to increase the number of scans done from every five minutes to every minute.
However, the Director stressed that the radar would detect more than just hurricanes. “Sometimes we get really very small features that can pop up, giving you very little warning…. So, therefore, it gives you a little more leeway time … in detecting small features that can wreak havoc across this small island,” Mr. Best pointed out.