Radar finally working just in time for storm season

| 28/05/2024 | 44 Comments
CINWS Technical Services Manager Michael Carey shows the premier the replaced part of the Doppler radar system
(L-R) LEONARDO Radar Engineer Cesar Mello, CINWS Chief Meteorological Officer Kerry Powery, and CINWS Technical Services Manager Michael Carey
LEONARDO Radar Engineer Cesar Mello works inside the radar dome.

(CNS): The Kearney Gomez Doppler Weather Radar, located in the interior of East End, is back up and running this week after being out of service for more than seven months. Officials said in a press release that the beleaguered system had undergone essential repairs and maintenance and was “fully operational” as of Monday, 27 May.

The radar has been out of service many times, and Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who has responsibility for the Cayman Islands National Weather Service, said fixing it was a “milestone” that reflected the government’s “commitment to ensuring the safety and preparedness” of Cayman ahead of the hurricane season, which starts on Saturday.

“The Cayman Islands is adapting [sic] a culture of readiness, wherein we are taking frequent inventory of our existing resources and seeking new ones to ensure our country is resilient in weather situations,” she said.

Officials stated that the Doppler radar system is an important tool in tracking storm activity during the Atlantic hurricane season, though on the occasions when it has been out of action, CINWS has said it has other means of tracking storm activity. When it is working, the radar can detect moisture and water droplets up to 250 miles away from the Cayman Islands and the encircling sea, the release said.

The German-based company LEONARDO, which installed the radar, is the only entity qualified to provide the level of scientific expertise necessary for the Doppler’s maintenance, which is part of the reason for the delay in getting it fixed. Cesar Mello, a radar engineer from the company, worked with the CINWS team on the repairs, and the Barbados Weather Service assisted in sourcing and exporting critical equipment needed.

“Working closely with the engineer from LEONARDO, we have meticulously addressed the technical challenges faced by the radar,” said CINWS Technical Manager Michael Carey. “It is immensely gratifying to see our hard work come to fruition, ensuring that our radar system is functional before the hurricane season.”

CINWS Director General John Tibbetts said the public’s patience with unforeseen lulls in the radar’s service was appreciated.

“We remain committed to providing accurate information about our weather and safeguarding our community ahead of natural disasters,” Tibbetts said. “Thankfully, we have now reinstated the radar, which serves as our early warning system. This increases our capacity for forecasting, research and accurate reporting in inclement conditions.”

The radar, which was installed in 2013 through a grant provided by the European Union, has a life span of 15 years and will, therefore, likely need to be replaced within the next five years. However, since it was installed, it has been non-operational for several periods. After Hurricane Grace in 2021, it began leaking, which led to substantial operation disruption. Repairs were completed in 2022.

Several more operational interruptions occurred in 2023: the dehydrator was down for three months, communications were interrupted for one day due to lightning, and service was disrupted for four months because the slip ring and brush block failed.

The radar system has been non-operational since 20 October 2023 due to a mechanical failure that was beyond the scope of the local team’s expertise and experience. 

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Category: Science & Nature, Weather

Comments (44)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    New Headline”

    “Radar broken again just in time for storm season”

  2. Anonymous says:

    ….aaaaannnd it’s gone!

    Didn’t even get 24hrs out of it this time! hahahaha

  3. Michael Fish says:

    Well as of 4pm today, it AIN’T working again!

  4. Anonymous says:

    and Radar is down again……

  5. Anonymous says:

    The radar is down again right now!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The comment that it is not needed is false. Thanks to the radar we can now distinctly see approaching weather. Kudos to CIG for getting it fixed!

  7. Anonymous says:

    The radar’s in Cuba cover most of our area, all online.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Do we really need a Met Office in Cayman employing people to do what? Stare at TV screens and get the real weather from the US entities. But then again, do we need a Protocol Office? Or five or six Strategic Advisors for the Deputy Governor, all on Grade C and moved from other jobs they failed at? Or a huge Communications Department distributing government good news and propaganda? Or….any other suggestions?

  9. SSM345 says:

    What does the rest of the Caribbean use JuJu?

    Do they send carrier pigeons to each other, East to West to bring news of impending weather?

    Or do they just piggy back off all the available information sources on weather at everyone’s fingertips on this thing called the internet?

    Or is this merely a handful of permanent jobs for a select few that appear to have nothing to do for 6 months per year?

  10. Anonymous says:

    “And this is the part of the machine that goes ping!”

  11. Anonymous says:

    Talk about a word salad.

    “The Cayman Islands is adapting [sic] a culture of readiness, wherein we are taking frequent inventory of our existing resources and seeking new ones to ensure our country is resilient in weather situations,” she said.

    Said another way Caymans know the radar only works six months a year and is basically useless the other six months. There has to be an alternative from the US that’s better than the ever broken Leonardo. Ju Ju, call the TV stations in Miami and see what they’re using. Just saying…. 🤪🤪🤪

  12. Anonymous says:

    Even when it works that radar is as useful as a window. yup it’s raining.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m surprised its still up.
      It normally fails when it rains, and it did for about 10 minutes last night.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not really. I used it in the mornings alongside rain percentage odds for a better idea if rain will catch me from the east during my commute on the bicycle or if I should take the car instead.

      Farmers use it for predicting the need to water.

      Boaters use it for, well, boating purposes.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you a boater relying on a radar that doesn’t work then perhaps you should stick to dry land Bobo.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Great news, I feel much more informed (Sarcasm). Destined to break down and the competent CIG will take another 6-12 mnths to fix a flawed essential system. However, I really don’t care as other resources will keep me informed: Yea, those resources from countries that the Cayman constituents like to malign – they will provide free coverage for what we are unable to manage. Cayman – first world…, I think not.

  14. Anonymous says:

    CINWS. Should be ashamed of themselves for the poor management of this vital infrastructure.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why did CIG choose a European vendor for the doppler radar? There are closer ones in the USA where parts availability and logistics are much less problematic. Anyone out there at liberty to say what part(s) failed and if the historical failed parts were on the OEM recommended spares list when they purchased the radar in the first place. If I was a betting man I would hedge that CIG people caused the delay by ignoring manufacturer recommendations and failed to provision for equipment failures.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because, weirdly the EU paid for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      it’s not 1503! Parts from Europe only take a few hours longer by plane or 2 weeks longer by boat!

      • Anonymous says:

        Typically a manufacturer the size of Leonardo has a North American distributor but this company has a subsidiary in the USA and they don’t deal with weather radar parts. I’m sure you’ve ordered items for your own use? Where do you source them from North America or Europe if they are available in both locales?

    • Island Time says:

      I would think the questions should be.

      Who made the decision to purchase
      What was the purchase price compared to competitors
      Most importantly was there a kick back

      I say this as why is it every other weather radar in the world may break but not for months at a time with no parts. Someone was sold a bill of goods or knew they were purchasing an Old piece of junk that couldn’t be serviced.

      • Anonymous says:

        Even a Mercedes Benz breaks down if its not maintained by qualified inividuals, if at all.

        The company is well known in the radar industry and has many units deployed in the USA and Canada.

        It’s simple, lack of qualified staff and no maintenance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Grant was provided by the EU. Almost certainly a provision that the money had to be spent with an EU supplier. Fairly standard with overseas aid agencies.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Yay!! Should be good for about 3 months….

  17. Anonymous says:

    Supppsrdly, DARPA uses high power Doplar radar stations to direct energy and modify the path of storms. See Houston storms of a few weeks ago.

  18. Guido Marsupio says:

    Will CIG learn anything from this? Like it’s a good idea to have spare parts on hand?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Give it 2 months before it breaks again, this lot couldn’t keep a river running.

  20. Anonymous says:

    radar fiasco sums everything wrong with cig and the civil service.
    and btw….its not needed, all relevant information is available from nhc in states.


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