By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
PLANS to strengthen the country’s weather tracking services with the addition of four Doppler radar systems “are in the works,” according to the Director of the Department of Meteorology Trevor Basden.
The meteorologist said that officials have tentatively identified Abaco, San Salvador, Long Island and Mayaguana as sites for the new radars. He said international experts who have travelled to the Bahamas to assist with efforts following Hurricane Joaquin in October have called for the installation of at least two additional radars.
Mr Basden said on Friday that the decision to install the country’s first and only Doppler system at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in 2005 came as a result of historical data that indicated that the northwestern area of the Bahamas was more prone to experiencing major storms.
However, he said with the changes to weather patterns in recent years the need for more systems has now become evident.
Shortly after Hurricane Joaquin devastated islands in the central and southeast Bahamas, Department of Meteorology forecaster Wayne Neely claimed that the department’s Doppler radar was not functioning for several hours during the passage of Hurricane Joaquin.
However, this was strongly refuted by such senior meteorology officials as Mr Basden and Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin.
Mrs Hanna Martin, citing that the radar is not housed at the same facility where forecasters are stationed, previously said that the issue experienced with the system was simply a matter of rebooting the monitor that projects the images from the radar.
Typical radar systems can provide details on rainfall intensity, thunderstorms, and tornadic activity, including waterspouts, effectively within a 150-mile range.
Last month, Mrs Hanna Martin said the radar is best used by officials as a supplemental tool to satellite imagery, the lightning detection network and computer modeling from a variety of official international sources.
Hurricane Joaquin was one of 11 named systems during the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season that runs from June 1 to today, November 30.
Of those 11 systems, four became hurricanes and two of those developed into major storms.
During the 2015 season, the Bahamas was threatened by Hurricane Joaquin and Tropical Storms Erika and Kate.