The first of the four new Doppler radar installations. The first one has been established on New Providence and the other three will be in Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Long Island. The current system, which is located in New Providence, will be refurbished and upgraded and then installed in Ragged Island, bringing the total to five Doppler radar, covering the entire country. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna).

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Four new Doppler radars are being installed to improve the functionality of the Department of Meteorology. The radar will be situated in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Long Island and Abaco. Currently, the only radar system, stationed on New Providence, is being refurbished and upgraded to be established in Ragged Island later. The contract for the radar system was awarded to Vaisala, a Finnish company, at a cost of $20 million. On completion, the entire Bahamas will be under full radar coverage. In addition, the company will install nine more weather stations.

The announcement was made during a press conference held at the Weather Station at Lynden Pindling International Airport on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

Minister of Transport and Aviation, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin made the announcement and said that this puts the country on the ‘cutting edge’ of technology.

“Today, we are pleas ed to see this project come to fruition for our people, especially after having experienced two major hurricanes, which have wreaked havoc to our country,” said Minister Hanna-Martin. “These radars create a network as each Doppler connects to each other.”

The Minister said that this move is a ‘significant thrust’ for the meteorology department as it sets out to build capacity. She also said that this project is part of a larger vision by the government to protect and more effectively forewarn the Bahamian people against major catastrophes such as hurricanes and other storm systems.

“This is a major investment for the government but it is based on the importance of the welfare and protection of our people,” she said.

Director of the Meteorology Department, Trevor Basden said that the installation of the radars would further boost the efficiency of the department and upon completion, the four radars would overlap each other to promote more accuracy in information about the weather.

Project Manager, Antti Torkkeli, of Vaisala, said that the project is going well despite some minor challenges with the weather.

It is anticipated that the installation of the radar will be before the end of April with the entire operation being completed by November 2018. The new radars are the latest in technology and at least 100 of them have already been implemented worldwide.

The Doppler radar will use the SmartMet and SmartAlert system, which means that several features will be built-in, including: automatic generation of weather forecast products, integrated display of various weather observation and data sources, advanced weather situational analysis and weather warning tools. The SmartMet/SmartAlert system is already in use in 10 Caribbean countries including Cuba, Antigua, Jamaica and Barbados.

By Betty Vedrine
Bahamas Information Services