Samoa Meteorological Warning Capabilities Boosted

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Japan contributes $8.9 million to improving systems

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, June 20, 2013) – Samoa’s Meteorology Division is now armed with better equipment to gather information about the weather thanks to Japan.

Funded under Japan’s Grand Aid Programme (JGAP) weather forecasting and warning systems were opened yesterday in a brief ceremony at Met headquarters at Mulinu’u.

"Improving the weather forecasting system and meteorological warning facilities is something we have always dreamed to happen," said head of Meteorology, Moefa’auo Ausetalia Titimaea.

Improving these facilities started in March 2010 when Japan and Samoa signed an agreement on a WST$21 million [US$8.9 million] upgrade project.

"This program includes the establishment of nine automatic weather observation stations for the collection of surface observation data and six data communication repeaters spread across the Samoan islands of Upolu, Savaii and Manono, " said Ambassador Yasuaki Nogawa.

"It also includes the installation of a wind profiler, which is a first in the South Pacific region, a solar power back-up system, and an integrated data system for accumulating, analyzing and sending meteorological data from a newly constructed building here at the Meteorology Division Head Office," His Excellency said.

Also included in the project is an "aviation weather observation systems at the runway and data communications systems," he said.

Ambassador Nagowa said there’s specialized equipment and a sea level sensor for monitoring storm surges created by tropical cyclones and tsunamis.

"Weather information will automatically be collected from all the sites and sent to the main site here, before being disseminated and stored at the World Meteorological Centre, based in Melbourne, Australia," he said.

Ambassador Nagowa said technical cooperation which is currently underway by Japanese experts to train Meteorology Division staff to most effectively utilize these improved facilities is currently underway.

The system also enables the Meteorology Division to collect real time data from around the world including Japan’s Multifunctional Transport Satellite (MTSAT) and the Global Telecommunication System (GTS).

Moefa’auo said with these new facilities, "our office here can contribute to the world’s Meteorological office by sending data’s collected in this territory."

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi agrees with Ambassador Nagowa that many natural disasters have hit Samoa, with Cyclone Evan last December one of the worst since cyclones Ofa and Val.

Tuilaepa acknowledged Japan’s assistance which greatly improved preparation against Cyclone Evan.

"When Samoa was placed under a cyclone watch, I understand that this program was very useful in the preparations for Evan which included warnings for people to board up their homes, "said Ambassador Nagowa.

"The detection of unusual climate trends is also crucial to pursuing environmental sustainability, disaster risk reduction and developing plans to mitigate climate change impacts in Samoa," he said.

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