In September 2009, the National Meteorological Service of Belize installed a $3.3 million dollar radar at its headquarters in Ladyville. The radar was expected to be operational by October of the same year but up to now, the radar is still inactive.
Back in 2009, in an interview with Chief Metrological Dennis Gonguez, he stated that there were two reasons for this; one of them was that a mechanical part was missing and that it needed to be shipped from the US. The second reason given was that the engineer that would replace these parts had other commitments outside of the country.
With more than half of a decade that the radar is not functioning and the fast approaching hurricane season for 2015, Belize Media Group decided to approach Chief Metrological Dennis Gonguez for an update.
In an email to one of our reporters he stated the following and we quote. “Unfortunately the radar is still not working. Three separate orders for parts were made as different issues developed with the radar. The first part was fitted and the radar developed other problems subsequently. The second shipment of parts has just arrived in country and will be cleared from Customs early next week. The third request for the purchase of additional parts stands at the Ministry of Finance for payment to the supplier. A fourth request for parts is being prepared for submission to the Ministry of Finance as we communicate at this moment. This last shipment is promised to be landed in country exactly two weeks after payment. So I do not see the radar up and running before 1st June 2015. Optimistically I would say it would be up near the first week in July. The radar is approaching seven years old and as expected with ageing it has developed some issues.”
Will the radar be in full function before the Hurricane Season this year? That is left to see.
It is of note that three of such Doppler Radars were set up across the Caribbean costing 10 million Belize dollars.
Breaking Belize News
Radar Down at the National Met Service
If you’ve visited the Belize Met Service website anytime in the past six months, you’ve likely seen the words – RADAR IMAGE NOT AVAILABLE – with an explanation that the radar is not operational due to technical difficulties. Actually, the radar has been down since October last year, and it is not expected to be up before the start of the hurricane season. So how did this happen, and even if it did happen, how is it that the down time has been so prolonged? Chief Met Officer Dennis Gonguez explains.
Dennis Gonguez, Chief Met Officer
“The decision was made to shut down the radar on the twenty-ninth of October because it needed some necessary parts. Those parts were acquired and subsequent to that the radar developed other issues. The second set of replacement parts are now in the country. There are even some more issues with the radar, so we have placed another order for parts. That order sits at the Ministry of Finance at this time. And a couple days ago the technician indicated to me that he needs even more parts and that request is being made as we speak. I have been promised that the last set of parts will take two weeks to be delivered subsequent to receiving payment, so it all depends when payment will be made to the supplier that we will receive within two weeks the last shipment of parts. So it seems that the radar would not be ready for the first week of June considering that the last request for payment, for the payment of parts, has not been submitted as yet.”
“What is the importance of having it up and what are the repercussions of not having it up?”
“We can function very well without it. The Met Service has been functioning for some time without a radar but it adds to or enhances our capabilities if we have the radar. We can function without it. It is not something that would impede us in producing any forecast, but it does assist us greatly with our products.”
Gonguez says that he is cautiously optimistic that the radar will be operational by July.