Monday, June 17, 2024

Obsolete equipment at the weather office means conditions are gloomy

All but one of Mexico’s 79 government-run weather stations operate with out-of-date and damaged meteorological instruments that hinder the formulation of effective forecasts, according to the National Meteorological Service (SMN).

The SMN currently captures just 50% or less of basic weather information such as rainfall and wind speeds, vital data that is needed to generate accurate warnings about severe weather events including hurricanes and floods.

“The meteorological instruments currently administered by the general management of the SMN are in a bad state due to a range of environmental conditions such as rain, exposure to sun, humidity, wind and . . . corrosion due to salinity,” the agency said in a technical data sheet.

“. . . The instruments . . . have completed their shelf life,” the SMN explained, adding that they cannot be repaired because there is “a lack of parts in the market.”

To address the situation, the agency is seeking funding of more than 32.3 million pesos (US $1.7 million) to purchase 78 sets of new meteorological instruments that will allow it to modernize its national network of weather stations.

“Not having basic climate and meteorological information will make evaluations and analysis of change scenarios and climate variability impossible,” the SMN said.

“Timely and precise forecasts about the presence of severe hydro-meteorological phenomena will be affected. It also limits and places at risk the development of weather forecast warnings, and doesn’t allow decisions to be made in case of [the need] to protect the public, infrastructure and services,” it continued.

The SMN document also detailed the specific failures of the antiquated and weather-damaged equipment.

Mexico’s government-owned anemometers – devices used to measure wind speed – should take 52,560 measurements a year on average but currently take only 22,280, meaning they are operating at just 42% of their optimal capacity.

Pyranometers – instruments used to measure solar irradiance – are only operating at 50%, while rain gauges are only taking half the number of measurements they should.

Beyond the purchase of new instruments the SMN is also planning the installation of a new 55-million-peso (US $2.9-million) weather surveillance radar in Altamira, Tamaulipas.

The radar currently in operation in the coastal municipality dates back to the 1970s and is effectively obsolete.

The SMN said there is a “deficit of information and images that are fundamental for climate prediction,” a situation that increases the risk of four million Tamaulipas residents suffering the consequences of a weather disaster.

The National Meteorological Service also intends to spend 18.5 million pesos (just under US $1 million) to modernize its Mexico City headquarters.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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