by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Nation urged to wait to on information from local MET Office and not social media
- National Hurricane Centre forecast is not specific for Grenada’s geographical space
Stemming from Monday’s Tropical Storm Warning for Grenada which has since been lifted, the nation is once again being urged to wait to on information disseminated from the local Meteorological (Met) Office rather than sourcing information through social media.
The urge came from Senator Winston Garraway, Minister with responsibility for Disaster Management and Information, as he addressed the media during yesterday’s post-cabinet briefing following the passage of Tropical Storm Dorian.
Garraway acknowledged that there have been people who continue to question the reliability of the Meteorological Office forecast, and informed that for any weather prediction there is a certain degree for marginal error which can affect the accuracy of weather predictions especially with regards to long-range forecasts.
He also said although there are other trusted sources like the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) for weather information regarding developing weather systems, it is important to note that the forecast disseminated from the NHC is for the entire region and is not specific for Grenada’s geographical space. “Forecasting from the Met Office is evolving as well, but something that came out in our emergency meeting on Sunday that with every forecast the margin of error is 150 nautical miles…the reason why it is so important when the hurricane centre issues something it is so important for us to wait for what Met Office would say because they have the final say in their modelling within our geographic space to be as most accurate and precise as ever. When the hurricane centre gives you a forecast, they give you for the entire region, but Met Office contextualises specific to Grenada.”
From their assessment stemming from their emergency meeting, Garraway said there were some communication gaps observed that must be filled in order to ensure that effective, efficient and timely updates are provided to the public. “[Tropical Storm] Dorian apparently was providing some challenges for the forecasters and shortly after we were told Grenada will be placed under a Tropical Storm warning, there was a call back to say let’s hold because we are seeing some things that are not really settling so let’s wait until the afternoon,” he said.
“We had our emergency meeting of the National Advisory Council. At 4:20 pm we got a call saying at 5:00 the recommendation is for the country to be placed under Tropical Storm Warning. We continued with the meeting, obviously, I would have had to make calls and so forth to advise my superiors… but 5:10 pm we got another call saying again we want to change the advisory from warning to go back to watch and this has been the issue that we were confronted with throughout the day.”
Due to public perception that the Met Office weather prediction is not reliable, Garraway said this has allowed people to become complacent when an advisory is given pending an approaching weather system. He said contingency planning to mitigate against disasters is everyone’s duty and it is also the responsibility of the district teams to ensure that people take heed to the warning provided.
“District teams have a responsibility of working with the district to get people to realise that this is a prediction, it is not a definite factual statement that it will pass exactly the same path but within that zone. We need not let down our guard, but to be prepared at all times and that’s the constant fight that we have to do as disaster managers, to constantly remind our people, work with our schools, that’s why the NaDMA quiz is so important.”
The issue of persons getting their weather information on social media or disseminating wrong information online continues to be a challenge for NaDMA.
“This is why we have to be careful that when we give the information, sometimes we are criticised for delayed information, but it is better to delay and to be accurate than to be rushed and you do not get it right and often times this is the challenge. We have to stay on par with the challenge of social media and to let people know that listen you have to take this seriously,” said Sylvan McIntrye, Acting National Disaster Coordinator of NaDMA.
Tropical Storm Dorian’s unpredictability stemmed from its fragile structure which made it difficult to forecast because of its susceptibility to tiny disruptions that can affect both track and strength. Dorian has struggled against wind shear and dry air for the past couple of days.