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Broken Radar Claim Is Denied

Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Transport and Aviation Minister pictured speaking at a press conference she called to address the media reports about the Met Office's Radar. Photos Shawn Hanna

Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Transport and Aviation Minister pictured speaking at a press conference she called to address the media reports about the Met Office's Radar. Photos Shawn Hanna

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

TRANSPORT and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin yesterday said claims that the Department of Meteorology’s Doppler radar was non-operational as Hurricane Joaquin battered the central and southern Bahamas earlier this month were “erroneous”.

Mrs Hanna Martin, who has the Meteorology Department in her portfolio, insisted that the issues with the accuracy of the category four storm’s track had to do with the erratic nature of Joaquin and not with forecast equipment in The Bahamas.

She maintained that the Doppler radar was operating throughout the storm, despite notations in the Meteorology Department’s log book on October 2 which read: “Major storm Joaquin is over The Bahamas and the Doppler radar is not working. The Met lab is not working, no hurricane supplies, no bus, when will we get it right in The Bahamas.”

The radar provides details on rainfall intensity, thunderstorms, and tornadic activity including waterspouts effectively within a 150-mile range, Mrs Hanna Martin said. Therefore, she said, the radar is best used by officials as a supplemental tool to satellite imagery, the lightning detection network and computer modelling from a variety of official international sources.

Mrs Hanna Martin held a press conference yesterday at her office on West Bay Street to refute claims published in The Nassau Guardian that the radar was inoperable on October 2 when the storm inflicted the brunt of its fury on the central and southern islands.

The newspaper published messages that were reportedly between several Meteorology Department workers who expressed dissatisfaction that alerts were not issued in a timely fashion and about the state of the equipment.

“I am advised by the director of the Meteorology Department, supported by the radar’s technician, and further supported by the information technology officer, who manages the software for the radar, that prior to the approach of Hurricane Joaquin and throughout the progress of the storm the radar was operational,” the minister said, flanked by weather officials yesterday.

“I am advised that over the past 12 months, the Doppler radar was non-operational for 10 days for the acquisition of new elevation and azimuth motors in late April and 10 days in the month of July for the installation of software for the radar.”

“I am further advised that the notations in the log book which otherwise state the radar was non-operational are a simple matter of rebooting the computer workstations in the Forecast Office and were not related to the functionality of the radar itself.”

She continued: “This particular hurricane had some very unique characteristics, as affirmed by the (United States’) National Hurricane Centre, which has the jurisdiction as stipulated by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) for the official tracking of hurricanes in the North Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico region.

“The information provided by the Prime Minister (Perry Christie) under the advice of the minister of transport and aviation as advised by the director of the Meteorology Department is true and correct and there is no misleading of Parliament of this country.”

Mrs Hanna Martin said she strongly believed the untrue claims of issues with the Doppler radar was fuelled when a US Weather Channel reporter incorrectly stated during coverage of the storm that the radar was down because the necessary parts were not available in the country to fix an existing issue.

This was immediately refuted in a statement by the government.

She pointed to a statement by that news agency that expressed “regret” for the allegation.

Mrs Hanna Martin read out a statement from Shirley Powell, the Weather Channel’s executive vice-president and chief communications officer.

“While reporting on Hurricane Joaquin,” Ms Powell said, “one of our on camera meteorologists stated that The Bahamas radar system was not working. In fact it was the system that provides The Weather Channel access to the radar that was not working. We cannot independently verify whether or not the radar itself was functioning at the time. We regret the error.”

Trevor Basden, director of the Met Department, affirmed Mrs Hanna Martin’s statement, adding that the monster storm was outside of the Doppler’s range.

He said: “The radar was working or radiating. One of the challenges we have is that from time to time, the workstation in the Forecast Office might go down, but a simple reboot of the workstation will bring it back up. So the radar would be radiating and sending whatever images might be there but it would not be seen in the Forecast Office on the monitor but a simple reboot would bring it back up and the echoes would be displayed.

“In terms of the accuracy of the echoes and whether or not they would be displayed, please be advised that Joaquin was outside of the effective range of the radar. This is due to the actual physics of the earth. The earth curves so the further you get away from the beam the higher it is from you, meaning that if I am right here in Nassau I would be able to see any weather or any rain bands and I would be able to do so until I reach the area near the Exumas. Anywhere outside of the range I would only be getting the tops of clouds.”

Mr Basden said he was disappointed by the logbook entry, but would not say whether the person responsible for the entry would face disciplinary action.

National Hurricane Centre

According to James Franklin, branch chief in the NHC’s Hurricane Specialist Unit, Hurricane Joaquin posed some very difficult forecast challenges and the NHC’s forecast errors for this storm were much larger than normal.

He made several observations to Mr Basden in an email which was disseminated to the media to substantiate Mrs Hanna Martin’s statement that Hurricane Joaquin was difficult to track.

“When Joaquin formed on the evening of September 27, our available track model guidance called for a west-northwestward or northwestward motion away from the Bahamas and the initial NHC official forecasts followed that reasoning,” Mr Franklin’s email said.

“By the afternoon of the (September) 28, one model (the ECMWF) suggested close approach to the northwestern Bahamas, with the remainder of the typically good-performing guidance still indicating a track well to the north.

“The first NHC official forecast to show a close approach to the central Bahamas was issued at 5pm September 29 and your office issued a hurricane watch for the central Bahamas six hours later. Joaquin continued to move farther to the south than expected, however, passing very close to Crooked Island in the southeastern Bahamas on October 1.”

Mr Franklin said the NHC was still evaluating why the guidance models were so slow to forecast the southward motion of the storm.

He said Joaquin was in an environment of strong northerly shear and the NHC’s initial reasoning was this shear would keep the cyclone weak and that weaker system would move away from the Bahamas with the lower-level flow.

Comments

kaytaz 4 years, 8 months ago

Either the damn radar was on and working or it was not.why all the cloak and dagger

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proudloudandfnm 4 years, 8 months ago

We Bahamians know about rebooting. Try again Ms. Hanna....

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jackbnimble 4 years, 8 months ago

PLP Mantra: DENY, DENY, DENY!!!!

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B_I_D___ 4 years, 8 months ago

They will look into the matter and a report will be done...contents will be revealed in due course...

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BoopaDoop 4 years, 8 months ago

...A committee will be assigned to look into the matter

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GrassRoot 4 years, 8 months ago

what the good Minister does not understand is, she can say whatever she wants - she will lose the argument. 1. If the Radar was NOT broken - how comes NO warning was issued. 2. If the Radar was broken, then obviously no one had seen the storm coming, and it makes sense that NO warning was issued. If 1. was true = the whole gang is incompetent. if 2. was trust = the whole gang is incompetent. Result: The minister has to take the political responsibility and go.

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TalRussell 4 years, 8 months ago

Comrade Minister with the greatest respect, if as I had posted within hours Hurricane Joaquin hitting Crooked Island that the radar's Magetron is weak and needed be replaced but never was repaired nor replaced - was a correct statement - then you can see why I must disagree with you.
Minister a simple question. Was the Megetron in need, or not in need of repair/replacing?
The maintenance log books must be made public, if your position is that the radar's Megetron had always remained fully operational.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 8 months ago

No different than her father....just look at her new oriental dress code! Anyone waking up to this woman each morning would be better off .......oh well, you know what I mean!

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Regardless 4 years, 8 months ago

Unfortunately the electorate is in the bottom half of the Caribbean as far as literacy. If this was not the case, perhaps The Bahamas would choose a new direction as Canada has. The other problem facing this nation, is the choices for leadership at present no matter what the level of education, It appears the political elite of both parties have it exactly where they want.

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3Stormsin5Years 4 years, 8 months ago

It's truly unfortunate that the Min of Met doesn't train its storm monitoring staff to reboot their computers when there is a storm in the neighborhood and it's hurricane season. Joaquin was a slow motion train wreck of a storm. It was generally moving at about 3-4 MPH to the SSW since it formed on 9/27. I wonder why, when it was clearly not moving as predicted by US NHC, the Bahamian government didn't decide to put out a warning since it was better to err on the side of caution and get the much vaunted and well oiled incoming storm preparedness machine in motion. No one in their right mind would have condemned the government for pulling the trigger on false alarm. Better safe than sorry? Another thing, wouldn't they have seen the outer whorls of the storm as it approached? It wasn't THAT small. Why weren't they screaming louder and louder on the 28th, 29th and 30th that an unpredictable storm was approaching, to open the shelters and to get to shelter ASAP? Maybe they need to train to reboot the phones too!

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MonkeeDoo 4 years, 8 months ago

These people are relics of the past ! Why are they even there. ?

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3Stormsin5Years 4 years, 8 months ago

It's truly unfortunate that the Min of Met doesn't train their storm monitoring staff to reboot their monitoring computers when there is an erratic, burgeoning storm within striking distance and it is high hurricane season. Joaquin was a slow motion train wreck of a hurricane. It was only moving at about 3-4 miles SSW. It took 4 days to close on the southern Bahamas. I wonder why the government didn't post some warnings when it became evident that the storm wasn't behaving as their models predicted? Why not start up the well oiled and much vaunted Bahamas National Hurricane preparedness machine. No one in their right mind is going to blame them for erring on the side of caution for ramping up their warnings in the face of an unpredictable storm. Another thing, why didn't they get on the phone early to begin opening the shelters positively and start getting people moving to the shelters with provisions. Do they have to teach them and the cops to reboot the telephones too? Can't they set up a phone tree or visit the outlying settlements to verify preparations in them nice shiny jeeps?

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 8 months ago

The Report says that the Radar was not necessary to track the storm, as it can only track for 150 miles that is Exuma. but it was working. The weather channel has already apologise for what they said. and I have heard many US weather men say, the storm developed extremely quickly. But the reporter with "The Radar was not working " in her quest to fling mud on the Government has no problems throwing it on innocent people such as Mr: Dean and others.

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thomas 4 years, 8 months ago

So this confirms that the storm was not tracked. The radar which may or may not have worked is not to be blamed.

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Publius 4 years, 8 months ago

@birdie You are so ignorant that if the internet gave an electric shock for postings of your kind, you would be one burnt up cajun poster.

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sansoucireader 4 years, 8 months ago

Someone better secure that log-book or make some copies. I have a feeling it will go missing.

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Baha10 4 years, 8 months ago

Bottom line is Storm was not being properly tracked for whatever reason, hence insufficient Warnings, and those responsible for such failings need to resign, end of story, as if you are not going to take responsibility for putting Lives in jeopardy, then what are you?!? Very sad state of affairs, which stands as yet another example of why this Country is in the mess it is in.

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MonkeeDoo 4 years, 8 months ago

birdie says it is ok so it must be ok. birdie goin to put up lots of money for hurricane relief too.

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realfreethinker 4 years, 8 months ago

So to hell with yall.we didn't open the shelters,we didn't have a proper communications system,we didn't respond until late saturday on our relief efforts those are not important,but we will have a full fledge press conference to tell yall that the radar that was of no use to us was working.

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BaronInvest 4 years, 8 months ago

Wow, our game-development company has a better infrastructure than the Bahamas. Our computers don't need "rebooting". If something needs rebooting it's an indicator for something being broken. "Just reboot" is the jackass answer you'll give a non-techie when you cannot be arsed to fix the issue in the first place.

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TalRussell 4 years, 8 months ago

Comrades within hours Hurricane Joaquin making landfall I had also blogged there were:
(A). NEMA assigned satellite phones with dead batteries,
(B). NEMA assigned satellite phones that emergency personnel did not know the phone numbers of the other phones they were to call in an emergency.
The Minister is mistaken if she thinks she will quiet people in the palm of her hand on this one like she thinks she did over Baha Mar.
This whole NEMA pre prep and response could very well end up being the root cause of more than ministerial undoing.

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jusscool 4 years, 8 months ago

From earlier this month ? Late September until early October 1-2 no warnings was given. October 1-2 until now and you couldn't come out and tell the Bahamian people if the radar was working or not. So the Baha mian people are fools?

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MonkeeDoo 4 years, 8 months ago

Ya got to love the PLP signage in her left hand. Security Blankie I guess.

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sealice 4 years, 8 months ago

I suggest a good old fashioned PLP Anal Probe? then possibly appoint a committee to review the facts, then sweep it all under the rug unless of course it can still be used to steal funds from the public

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 8 months ago

"Mr Basden said he was disappointed by the logbook entry, but would not say whether the person responsible for the entry would face disciplinary action."

What a shortsighted manager..simply amazing. "Disappointed" that an employee offered a professional assessment and not willing to say if the employee will be punished for that assessment...exactly what does he think will happen in future? Who is going to report anything in the logbook that is adverse to what Mr Basden wants to see in his perfect cya world? What good is the logbook then? Why write anything if nothing ever breaks?

I recall a similar experience with a foreign boss who thought he was the end all. I reviewed my daily report, saw something wrong, looked at it again because I could not believe something was wrong, I then reported "something is wrong" to the senior team, as I'd been directed to do when I saw something wrong. (laughable). This boss then instructed another foreign worker to tell everyone nothing was wrong. That worker had a little sense, he checked before he acted and he told the boss something really is wrong. Boss never apologized. God complex and arrogance have no colour or nationality.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 8 months ago

Who's responsible for auditing the MET office's procedures btw? I'd be really concerned about the possibility of Mr Basden punishing an employee for reporting an adverse condition in the log

You need your employee's eyes and ears because you can't see everything. Even if the employee is wrong, when you sort out the issue, you simply make a note next to the original entry explaining what the real problem was

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