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Tonga Met highlights need for more specialized and quality information.

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 09/08/2019

The Tonga Meteorological Department recognizes the need for more specialized and quality meteorological information at a time where weather and climate related hazards are at a record high. And to this end the department has proposed a structural reform to help them meet the service demands.

Iliesa Tora of Nuku’alofa times reported The President of the World Meteorology Organisation Region 5 and Director of Meteorology ‘Ofa Fa’anunu made the comments while presenting the “TONGA METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE COUNTRY REPORT – Reporting on National Priority Actions of the Pacific Islands Meteorological Strategy (PIMS) 2017-2026” at the 5th Pacific Meteorological Council meeting, in Apia, Samoa last week.

The Met Director ‘Ofa Fa’anunu said “Due to the rapid growth of Tonga’s Meteorology Department and the need for more specialized and quality meteorological information in a time where weather and climate related hazards are at a record high there is a real need to reform organizational structure for the Meteorology department under the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Communications and Climate Change (MEIDECC),”

These reforms are necessary for the Meteorology Department to perform its functions under the Meteorology Act of 2017 as well as implement multi-million dollar projects in multi-hazard early warning systems.

It is also timely with the organizational reform currently happening with the WMO.

Fa’anunu said Tonga MET focuses on providing accurate, timely and reliable weather forecast and warnings, marine/ocean weather forecasts and warnings, weather observations, climate data and predictions and coastal maritime information communicated to stakeholders.

The service also contributes to three out of the seven TSDF National Outcomes which connects ultimately to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Fa’anunu also highlighted some of the future needs that the Meteorology Department has identified to help improve the National Meteorological Services.

This includes the need to establish/recruit more meteorologists to the forecasting section so that Tonga is able to provide its own forecasting services to Aviation, which is still done in Fiji.

Other areas identified include the development of Marine forecast and services, establishment and encouragement research capacity development, establish Meteorology regulations for QMS, Cost Recovery, and Qualifications of personnel, improve and enhance Severe Weather and Tropical Cyclone Warnings/Trainings, improve Earthquake and Tsunami Standard Operating Procedures and develop and better co-ordinate hydrological services.

Government support was also commended, with Fa’anunu highlighting the increased budget allocations and funding.

He also revealed that Tonga MET is serious about gender balance, with special attention now on female officers who can be recruited into the service.

Fa’anunu is leading Team Tonga at the 5th Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC) meeting and also several other key important Pre-PMC events.

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