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Cayman Islands Government

Support for Radar Project

Statement from the Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture

14 October 2010

Despite the clear need for identifying and developing alternative energy sources, the Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture fully support the placement of the Doppler radar on part of the former Wilderness Farm in East End.

This site was identified by a team of experts from the Caribbean Meteorological Organisation as the most suitable for the optimal functioning of the radar. They looked at accessibility, power supply in the area, elevation and the fact that the site was inland, protected from sea spray.

Proposals have been received to establish a wind farm in the same area, however national and regional safety concerns make the choice for the Doppler equipment site inevitable.

Presently the Cayman Islands finds itself in a 'black hole' of weather information - a precarious situation given the fact that our Islands' location puts us in a hurricane convergence zone. As such Cayman is considered to be at higher risk of hurricanes than any other island in the region.

The serious need for local radar was demonstrated by such storms as Gilbert (1988), Mitch (1998), Ivan (2004) and Paloma (2008). These systems all took us by surprise in one form or another due to the lack of localised weather information.

The Doppler radar will give our National Weather Service more accurate, timely and real-time information, enabling the population to better prepare for severe weather systems. The Doppler capabilities will further allow forecasters to more accurately warn of hazards such as wind shear problems which are hazardous to landing and departing aircraft.

In addition, the station will serve the entire Caribbean, filling a gap in the recently implemented regional radar network coverage. This network consists of Doppler radar stations in Belize, Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. This coverage from the Cayman Islands therefore will serve to strengthen regional weather data as well as boost our early warning system.

Supporting the Doppler radar project unreservedly is not a move against alternative energy. It is seeing through a vital project that has been in the works for almost a decade. The need for this equipment has been well-documented and researched.

Furthermore, securing the necessary funding from the European Union took years of advocating for this important resource. If this opportunity is not utilised at this time, then there is every chance that the necessary funding will be withdrawn.

The Ministry believes it is in the long-term national interest to see this project to fruition in its intended location.