On Monday, December 6th 2021, Hon. Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services, with responsibility for the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME), and the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) led a delegation to the Bahamas on a series of meetings and facility visits with the aim of establishing the needs and benefits of investing in a National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.
Members of the TCI delegation that accompanied Hon. Musgrove were Dr. Holly Hamilton - Director of Meteorology at the TCIAA, Mr. Mark Wilkinson – Radio Communications and Telecommunications Manager at DDME and Ms. Karen Higgs – Personal Assistant at the Ministry of Immigration and Border Services.
The TCI delegation met with Hon. Myles LaRoda, Minister of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, and Hon. Mario Bowleg, Minister of Youth, Sports & Culture, acting on behalf of the Minister of Transport and Housing who has responsibility for the Department of Meteorology. This meeting focused on the development and delivery of MET services, country collaborations, resource mobilization, training opportunities and knowledge exchange that will play a key role in Disaster Risk Management and contribute significantly to Disaster Risk Reduction.
During this visit, the TCI Delegation also had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Trevor Basden and Mr. Jeffery Simmons, Director and Deputy Director respectively, of the Department of Meteorology. The delegation toured the Bahamas Forecast Office and the Doppler Weather Radar Facility in New Providence. The Met Office team and a representative of the manufacturer of the weather radar system demonstrated the operations and functionalities of the Weather Radar and the Met Office.
The majority of disasters are linked to high-impact weather and hydrological events as well as climate extremes – including rapid-onset hazards such as tropical cyclones and slow-onset hazards such as droughts. A National MET Office will provide critical data and services such as localized impact-based forecasting and risk information (including authoritative warnings) in such a way that the appropriate stakeholders and decision-makers, and the general public can take actions to protect lives, reduce economic losses and disaster risks, and ultimately increase community resilience through structural and non-structural measures – preventive, responsive and adaptive.
Dr. Holly Hamilton, the Director of Meteorology for the TCIAA has recently completed her two (2) month attachment at the Bahamas Department of Meteorology as part of her operational training and the exchange and partnership programs between the two nations.
Commenting on her attachment, Dr. Hamilton said, “It was a great opportunity to be attached to the Bahamas Department of Meteorology. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working alongside the forecasters and observers at the Forecast Office, as well as spending some time shadowing the Acting Director, Mr. Jeffrey Simmons. The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos have a longstanding working relationship when it comes to meteorology and this opportunity was very beneficial to the TCI and the TCIAA by further strengthening that connection. Weather impacts our lives on a daily basis and with Climate Change, the need to observe, analyze and understand our weather and climate and how it is changing is now even more important to the TCI”.
The TCI Delegation also had the opportunity to visit the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of the Bahamas, during this visit the team discussed a number of critical areas such as Training opportunities, lessons learnt from preparedness and response activities of the various hazards and the multi-hazard approach of both countries.
Mr. Mark Wilkinson, representing the DDME, said, “the visit to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), provided an overview of the pivotal role the MET office plays in its national DRR governance and demonstrated both routine service delivery and more DRR-specific activities across various timescales. NEMA and DDME share a very close relationship, as national disaster offices that operate within the same Sub Regional Focal Point of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Regional Response System. This meeting has allowed the further strengthening of our partnership in Disaster Preparedness and Response, which are beneficial pillars to both nations.”
Hon. Arlington Musgrove, commenting on the visit said, “To deal with fundamental issues such as population safety and security, water and food security, economic growth and sustainable development, enhancing resilience to disasters and climate change, we have to develop and implement effective policies and strategies that take into consideration the challenges of climate variability and change and promote fundamental tenets of societal and environmental governance. Understanding the partnership and technical operation of these agencies are critical to strengthening the technical and functional capacities in the Ministry and the Turk and Caicos Islands.
The Bahamas Forecast Office provides the TCI/DDME with daily weather updates and the TCIAA with weather information for aviation purposes. As we continue to build our capacities in various sectors, visiting the Bahamas Forecast Office, the weather radar site and the National Emergency Management Agency provided a closer look at the support and partnership that we share on a daily basis, along with the exchange of information and future planning of the development of these critical entities such as DDME & TCIAA Meteorological Office”.