The Government of the Virgin Islands is continuing work to re-establish a Territory-wide multi-hazard monitoring network with the installation of 24 new weather stations.

The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is charged with the installation of the stations and is receiving support from regional and international partners.

The first stations installed under the DDM network have been completed at Capoon’s Bay and the T. B Lettsome International Airport. The devices were donated by the Caribbean Institute for Hydrology and Meteorology (CIMH). The training and research organisation’s Technical Officer, Damien Prescod was in the Territory to support the installment of the stations.

DDM’s Emergency Communications Manager, Mr. Jasen Penn said the department is pleased to get the support of CIMH.

“We have worked to establish a good relationship with CIMH and to support the establishment of the DEWETRA platform used by the Italian Civil Protection Department and designed by CIMA Research Foundation to support multi-risk mapping, forecasting and monitoring activities.”

He added, “Through this initiative we have been able to gain support from CIMH in enhancing the local networks and we are now in discussions with them about securing training in instrument maintenance and calibration practices.”

Mr. Penn further explained that the installation of the new devices will complement those that are operated by the BVI Airports Authority and will be outfitted with the capability to transmit real time data to the hub housed at the DDM’s office.

He said, “We are upgrading the stations to those that are World Meteorological Organization (WMO) compliant. The data collection systems and weather forecasting mechanisms that are being re-established form an important part of our hydro meteorological hazard monitoring networks.”

Mr. Penn added, “We use the data to support more credible forecasting for the Territory, guide the issuance of watches and warnings, support planning practices and improve climate resilient programmes and projects.”

Installation of two additional stations donated by the Government of Italy through the CIMA Research Foundation will be completed this week.  This donation is part of an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CIMA and the DDM.

President of the CIMA Research Foundation, Professor Luca Ferraris spoke about working in the region.

He said, “We have worked with CIMH in the past and after learning about the impact of the 2017 events, we decided to donate two complete weather stations to the BVI.  As part of our regional collaboration, CIMH is willing to provide support and training on how to install, maintain and calibrate weather related equipment.”

Additional stations have been purchased and will be installed throughout the Territory in the coming months with support from technicians from Campbell Scientific, a company that supplies these devices worldwide.

The DDM has been able to archive climate data that goes as far back as the 1970s.  An MOU is in place with the BVI Airports Authority to ensure that all data is being captured and utilised to support the development process. An informal agreement is also in place with weather enthusiasts who operate personal stations in the Territory.