Skip navigation

Doppler Radar for Cayman

The Cayman Islands is to benefit from the purchase and installation of a Doppler weather radar system.

The radar is part of a project which will give the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) access to US$5.5 million (4.16 million) from the European Commission (EC) to establish an early warning radar system in the Cayman Islands.

A technical team from the Caribbean Meteorological Organisation (CMO) is currently visiting Cayman (26-31 July) for discussions with Director of Meteorological Services Fred Sambula and other government officials.

The group is also exploring potential sites for locating the weather radar after which its specifications and the types of structure to accommodate the system will be decided.

Minister for District Administration, Works and Gender Affairs the Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, JP said recent history has shown how vulnerable Cayman is to hurricanes and other severe weather hazards.

"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," she said.

The Delegation of the EC in Jamaica has overall responsibility for the project, while CIAA will be the implementation agency. As such, CIAA officials will sign a service contract with the CMO to coordinate all technical aspects of the project, including design, assessing tender offers, training and the provision of other specialist services.

Coordinating CMO Director Tyrone Sutherland said, "The radar to be installed on Grand Cayman will serve to close the gap in radar coverage that presently exists over the Cayman Islands.

"It will also be linked with other radars in the region, including the four recently installed by the CMO and financed in May 2005 by the EC through the Secretariat of CARIFORUM." The four radars are located in Trinidad & Tobago, Belize, Barbados and Guyana.

"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.

Leader of Government Business (Premier Designate) the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP, noted, "Government is undertaking to provide an in kind contribution of some 500,000 Euros towards land, utilities, local technical support and ongoing cash flow for the operation and maintenance of the radar, following installation."

The CIAA will tender for the supply and installation of the tower through an open works tender.

Providing some technical details, Director of Meteorological Services Fred Sambula said, "We are looking at procuring a powerful, high-precision Doppler radar since these are particularly suited to the extremely heavy rainfall and thunderstorm activity experienced in tropical oceanic regions.

"The radar will be operated by trained Meteorological Services staff and will have a range of some 400 km (250 miles). It will provide weather surveillance over all three islands as well as surrounding maritime areas," he explained.

He noted that 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.

Mr. Sambula added that CIAA officials are pleased with this initiative and appreciate the Cabinet Office effort to obtain financing through the European Commission for this weather radar project.

EC Head of Delegation, His Excellency Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni noted "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."

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.