A powerful new radar ground station is helping the National Weather Service collect weather data faster and at higher resolution.
The NWS said its new GOES-R system is the first of its kind in the English speaking Caribbean.
“This is one of the scientific tools that I’ve been sitting here waiting for, I don’t know five, 10 years now,” said National Weather Service Director General John Tibbetts.
“Where is lightning going to strike? What kind of rainfall rates am I going to get?” he said, posing some of the questions the new GOES-R radar system can help answer.
“Previously the highest resolution is 1 km during the day and 8 km at night, now it is 500 meters during the day and 2 km at night for the infrared channels,” said Enterprise Electronics Corporation’s Eric Baptiste. “The forecasters know how the ability to go out of the realm of just synoptic forecasting, meaning large areas, to now, because you can zoom into small areas and instead of forecasting into the future, they can actually do Now-casting, because they can see systems developed in almost near real time.”
The National Weather Service has historically been intertwined with the airport. Mr. Tibbetts told Cayman 27 government’s acquisition of the new $247,000 dollar GOES-R system goes hand-in-hand with the renovations now taking shape at Owen Roberts International Airport.
“Let’s say you’ve got plans fueling up on the ramp up there, and they are getting ready to board passengers and everything like that, it’s very important the aviation sector knows, hey there is an area of heavy thunder showers coming, there’s a possibility of a lightning strike and what have you,” said Mr. Tibbetts.
The enhanced resolution, he said, will also help inform ground-bound travelers of quick-developing systems.
“All these things can feed out from the satellite system,” said Mr. Tibbetts.
The new radar system gets its data from the national atmospheric and oceanic administration’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite some 22,000 miles above Earth.