Severe weather training for forecasters

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Training for weather forecasters and staff of the National Emergency Office (NEMO) to improve lead-time in issuing accurate severe weather warnings to the public, is being held in Nuku’alofa this week.

The one-week training by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on severe weather is also focused on looking at ways to improve the current severe weather services.

‘Ofa Fa’anunu the Director of the National Weather Forecasting Centre said the specialized training is timely for them to prepare and get their staff ready for the upcoming cyclone activity.

He said Tonga is currently in El Nino year, which means we would expect more than usual cyclone activity.

“We are also looking at ways to improve our severe weather forecasts and it is good to have this training together with NEMO to start talking about ways to improve the impact side of things,” he said.

“It’s one thing getting a forecast right but it is another thing translating that message into language that is understood by Emergency Managers as well as the public so they can respond properly.”

Jim Watson, a public weather specialist from the United Kingdom Met Office, is one of the trainers who is helping to developing warnings and appropriate tools to help forecasters. He said that improving collaboration between meteorological and disaster response centers is also critical for getting the message across to ensure appropriate response.

Acting CEO for MEIDECC, ‘Atelaite Lupe Matoto said the training provides important assistance to improve interaction between MET, NEMO and civil protection authorities before, during and after events.

The training from August 31 to September 4 at the NEMO office in Vaololoa is co-funded by the Tongan Government and WMO through the Canadian Government.

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