A new $2 million weather radar system was officially launched with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Cooper’s Island in St David’s yesterday.
Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, said the new Doppler radar system will improve the ability of the Bermuda Weather Service and came in $30,000 under budget.
Mr DeSilva added: “To have a reliable radar system is critical for us, and of course coming in under budget is fantastic.
“We don’t ever want to get caught on the short end of the stick with regard to hurricane predictions. We have seen them do some serious devastation all over the world, so to have a system that we can rely on is crucial.”
He said: “The Bermuda Airport Authority did a wonderful job installing the system with minimal outage time and under budget at a cost of $2.01 million, versus the capital budget cost of $2.04 million.”
Mr DeSilva added: “Given the importance of accurate weather to Bermuda, particularly during the hurricane season, I think we are all relieved and happy to have our weather radar back in place with increased reliability.”
The former radar system was installed in 2004, but had to be replaced because of “reliability issues”.
The old radar was retired in March and dismantled to provide space for the new and more advanced doppler system.
Adam Shanks of German firm Leonardo, the manufacturer of the radar, said the new system will provide more accurate forecasts. He added the system was also designed to deal with problems caused by Bermuda’s isolated location and climate change.
James Dodgson, director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said: “The old radar essentially scanned in one plane horizontally while this one scans in two planes. It scans in the horizontal and the vertical.
“That gives the radar better definition of what we call ‘hydro meteors’, which is the rain and hail that falls from the sky.
“It gives a better idea of the size and intensity and that gives us a better idea of the rainfall amounts hitting the ground.”
He added the radar scans, viewable online at weather.bm, are used by people across the island. Mr Dodgson said: “It’s certainly one of the most popular parts of our website. That’s the feedback I get. A huge amount of people will access that radar imagery on a daily basis, whether they are going out for a run in the morning or going out on the boat, just to plan their daily outdoor lives in this wonderful place, Bermuda.”
A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Airport Authority said the installation work was fully completed on Monday. She added: “The BAA has been assured a 95 per cent reliability rate for the weather radar system for the next 15 to 20 years, with the exception for times when the radar will be taken down for preventive maintenance.”