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Monday 18 June 2018
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MET Office overhauling early warning system

Haley Anderson, Quality Specialist, Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service speaking about their early warning systems at Ministry of Public Utilities Head Office at One Alexandra in Woodbrook. PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI

UPDATE:

THE TT Met Office will be completely overhauling its early warning system and providing information further in advance, says Met Office quality manager Haley Anderson.

He was speaking yesterday at a media conference to launch the new system, held at the Public Utilities Ministry, Port of Spain.

He said alerts would be issued much further in advance, such as two to five days away, when it is suspected the hazard would be a threat to this country. He explained as the forecasters become more confident, a watch will be issued closer to the time, followed by a warning when it is almost certain the hazard is going to happen.

Anderson said the Met Office was moving away from a deterministic true/false way of issuing warnings to a more probabilistic method. He explained in the past the office may have hesitated, but now would provide up front the level of confidence in the forecast, and citizens would be in a better position to make better decisions.

He reported from engaging with stakeholders, disaster management agencies, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), the “man on the ground,” and fishermen and farmers one of the issues was that when they received information, they were not sure what to do next. He recalled meeting with Matelot fishermen who reported they received a bulletin but did not understand how severe the hazard was going to be, and this resulted in several fishermen losing boats and nets, and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“So our overall objective is to increase the quality of communications and to communicate more directly and less ambiguously the important information that is critical to early warning messages.”

He said the Met Office will be keeping the information short, simple, direct and clear, with less jargon, and not hidden where the user has to sift. This, he said, was an attempt to improve the efficiency of communications and ensure a better message is received by end users so they can better make informed decisions on how to react and respond in hazard situations.

Anderson explained bulletins and advisories will now take the form of public warning messages and the Met Office will introduce the common alerting protocol or CAP format, which is a standard adopted by the World Meteorological Organisation and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction,

The important changes include: colour-coded headline indicating risk level to population; identifying the hazard; indicating number of alerts and the risk level ranging from green (all clear safe) to yellow, orange and red as risk increases.

Most important, he said, would be the instructions accompanying the public warning information, and the Met Office would be guided by the ODPM. He also announced: the office will be revamping its website this week and including an early warning page. There are plans to implement RSS feeds to provide automatic updates for those who have signed up, and SMS messaging, with a focus on rural communities. Anderson also reported the Met Office has improved its infrastructure, access to global and regional prediction tools and standardised the process.

On the website Anderson said the Met Office was in the process of rebuilding it so there will be less, if any, unscheduled downtime.

ORIGINAL STORY:

THE TT MET Office is completely overhauling their early warning system to provide information further in advance, says MET Office Quality Manager Haley Anderson.

He was speaking, during the launch of the new system on Monday held at the Public Utilities Ministry, Port of Spain.

Anderson said alerts would be issued much further in advance, such as two to five days away, when it is suspected the hazard would be a threat to this country. He explained as the forecasters become more confident a watch will be issued closer to the time, followed by a warning when it is almost certain the hazard is going to happen.

Anderson said the MET Office was moving away from a deterministic true/false way of issuing warnings to a more probabilistic method. He explained in the past the MET Office may have hesitated but now would provide up front the level of confidence in the forecast and citizens would be in a better position to make better decisions.

He reported from engaging with stakeholders, disaster management agencies, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM), the "man on the ground," and fishermen and farmers one of the issues was that when they received information they were not sure what to do next. He recalled meeting with Matelot fishermen who reported they received a bulletin did not understand how severe the hazard was going to be and this resulted in several fisherman losing boats and nets, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

“So our overall objective is to increase the quality of communications and to communicate more directly and less ambiguously the important information that is critical to early warning messages.”

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