By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE GOVERNMENT is planning to purchase at least three additional "state of the art" Doppler weather radars for approximately $18 million to strengthen the country's weather tracking services, Department of Meteorology Director Trevor Basden said on Friday.
Mr Basden said he, along with Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin and Permanent Secretary Lorraine Symonette-Armbrister, have identified Abaco, Long Island and Exuma as sites for the new radars. The radar situated at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in New Providence will be "upgraded" he said.
Mr Basden's announcement, at a comprehensive review of Hurricane Joaquin at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), comes just months after a raging debate over whether the Department of Meteorology's Doppler radar system worked during the category four storm which devastated the central and southeast Family Islands.
Shortly after the hurricane passed Department of Meteorology forecaster Wayne Neely claimed that the department's Doppler radar was not functioning for several hours during the storm's passage.
However, Mr Neely's claims were strongly refuted by Mr Basden and Mrs Hanna Martin.
The minister, citing that the radar was not housed at the same facility where forecasters are stationed, previously said that the issue experienced with the system was a matter of rebooting the monitor that projects the images from the radar.
In October, as debate raged about whether the Department of Meteorology's Doppler radar system worked during Hurricane Joaquin, American weather expert Bob Dreisewerd told The Tribune that the country needed at least two more radars to effectively provide warning coverage for the entire Bahamas.
Mr Dreisewerd, a meteorologist for 25 years and the chief development officer for Baron, a weather intelligence firm, also told The Tribune that it is wise, though not necessary, for institutions to continually upgrade their radar technology.
The Bahamas' current radar at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) was obtained in 2005. According to Mr Dreisewerd, a typical Doppler radar can determine rainfall intensity and wind motion. He said more recent technology can "discern the shape and size of hydrometers" within rainfall.
However, like meteorological officials in the Bahamas, Mr Dreisewerd emphasised that radars are incapable of long-term analysis of weather systems.
Such analysis is done by incorporating "satellite imagery" and numerical weather prediction models," he said.
Typical radar systems can provide details on rainfall intensity, thunderstorms, and tornadic activity, including waterspouts, effectively within a 150-mile range.