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Doppler Radar Signing

Officials at the signing (sitting L-R) Icon Institute's Head of Unit Holger Hinterthur; Deputy Premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly MBE, JP, and Cayman Islands Airports Authority Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Jackson. Standing (L-R) are Icon Institute's Engineer Gunter Schieske; Administrative Officer 1 David Fawcitt; Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor MBE, JP, Chief Meteorologist John Tibbetts; Senior Assistant Financial Secretary Anne Owen; Chief Officer Kearney Gomez; Policy Analyst Christina Rowlandson; and the Cayman Islands National Weather Service Director General Fred Sambula.

The contract to provide technical assistance for designing, tendering, constructing and commissioning a digital Doppler weather radar station on Grand Cayman was recently signed between the Cayman Islands Airports Authority and Icon Institute, a German company.

The European Union (EU) grant for the radar station is 4.16 million Euros (about CI$4.1 m), and the Cayman Islands Government will make an in-kind contribution worth approximately 500,000 Euros to the project. Icon Institute was selected following a tendering and selection process based on EU regulations and standards.

The Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Jackson said the installation of a Doppler radar will allow the Cayman Islands to improve the accuracy of early-warnings for hurricanes and other severe weather.

"The appointment of a technical expert for this project means we can now start to make real progress towards completion of the next phase, namely the technical design for the radar and its housing." he added.

Mr. Jackson signed the contract on behalf of the CIAA, and Head of Unit Holger Hinterthur signed representing Icon Institute. He was accompanied by Engineer Gunter Schieske, who remains in Cayman to work with local authorities on the project.

The CIAA will implement this new service; however, once operational, the radar station will be managed by the Cayman Islands National Weather Service (CINWS) on behalf of the Cayman Islands Government.

The project includes a purpose-built radar housing, as well as the radar itself and all communication equipment, technical expertise and specialized training to CINWS staff.The facility will be located in East End, on a small part of the former prison's Wilderness Farm contributed by Government, and is scheduled to be constructed by late 2011.

Deputy Premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly MBE JP was also present at the signing, as were Chief Officer Kearney Gomez MBE JP, Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor MBE JP, Chief Meteorologist John Tibbetts, Senior Assistant Financial Secretary Anne Owen, Cabinet Office Policy Analyst Christina Rowlandson, and the CINWS's Director General Fred Sambula.

Welcoming this development, Ms O'Connor-Connolly said, "This new service will greatly enhance the level of hurricane preparation for the people of the Cayman Islands. I applaud all involved, especially the EU, for working to help provide this invaluable facility."

The weather information gathered will also be shared with other countries in the region.

The need for such a service was recognised during recent efforts to encompass the Caribbean region with modern radar, which is critical to tracking weather systems - and because local knowledge is critical to decision-making during storm threats.

The EU donated grants for four other regional projects, leading to Doppler radar services being introduced in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Belize last year.

However, the northeastern Caribbean region, into which Cayman falls, was not covered by these services, which led the Cabinet Office to ask the EU for technical assistance.

CINWS's Director General Fred Sambula noted, "This project is a long time coming. As we are in the hurricane belt, this critical early-warning tool, will improve the quality of weather information offered to emergency managers, other decision makers in government and private sector as well as all residents, for the protection of life and property in these Islands."

The Doppler Effect is named after Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, who introduced the concept in 1842. It takes measurements of changes in the frequency of waves of motion (including clouds and other measurable objects), thereby indicating direction and speed.

For further information contact: Lennon Christian