In 2016, when Hurricane Matthew hit eastern Cuba, Osniel Armas Fortezza, a graduate of the Department of Meteorology, began his working life, and this event was the impetus to start at the National Center for Forecasting, at the Institute of Meteorology (Insmet), located in the capital.
Both he – who has been in business for about five years and is now a senior specialist – and the rest of the guys who are currently working in different departments of the Meteorological Institute, have stories to tell and share the same love for the trade.
Dr. Jose Rubera Torres testified to this in a conversation with Granma. He considered that replacement is guaranteed in any of the positions in which the new generations contribute to the Institute throughout the national territory.
It is that the Meteorological Institute, with its nine national centers and its 14 regional centres, covering the meteorological situation of the entire country, constitutes a school for those who have the honor to join, and not only provides the community with forecasts time, as explained by Dr. Celso Pazos Albardi, Director General of that entity.
Insmet is a national system that also consists of 68 meteorological stations, eight radars and a facility in the Mariel Special Development Zone, which monitors weather and climate, and is responsible for other studies related to agrometeorology, environmental issues, and so on.
He stressed that each of the various national centers contributes to preparing weather and climate forecasts to be presented to the government, population and economy.
Integration with the central state administration organs and civil society is central to this effort. He noted, for example, the link with the staff of the National Civil Defense, the National Institute of Water Resources and the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT).
Inside the National Prediction Center
Specifically, the director of the center, Dr. Miriam Teresita Lanis, explained that among his tasks is to provide the final information to individuals and authorities about the meteorological situation and in the event of any dangerous phenomenon.
Regarding the interior designs of the work, he said that the team consists of a shift manager, a second, and several specialists. Young people are the force of the majority.
For many years, we have worked with forecasts for up to ten days, and monitoring is performed that allows, even more than 72 hours in advance, early warning notices.
The latter is only prepared for the government and civil defense, but currently the most successful thing is to make it public. That is why we tested it recently, so that it does not give off a false alarm, but allows us to prepare in advance for any circumstance, as happened recently with Tropical Storm Elsa, he said.
In this regard, Dr. José Rubera added that issuing forecasts to people, even when not due to tropical cyclones, has the primary purpose of conveying as much information as possible, until relevant measures are adopted. He noted that learning to communicate for this reason is also part of the work of Cuban meteorologists.
“There is a misunderstanding with the forecasts we make, but meteorology is not an exact science, there is potential for compliance. Dr. Lannis explained that we are looking at different models, and working together to deliver a collective end product, even with specialists from the provinces.”
He expected the current hurricane season to be active, due to the availability of conditions for that, and recommended staying alert all the time, mainly due to our geographical location.
Scientific activity: another strength of the department
Insmet’s work doesn’t end with forecasting the weather or observing a natural phenomenon. Master of Science Antonio Vladimir Guevara Velasco, Scientific Director of the Institute, summed up the wide scientific activity in which the entire national meteorological system participates.
He emphasized that in 2021, 48 research projects are being managed, divided into national, sectoral and regional programmes, in addition to projects not related to them, such as commercial projects.
According to the director, they are involved in national programs such as those on adaptation and mitigation of climate change, energy development and aging, longevity and health.
Another baseline is in the scientific and technical services for which the state allocates funding. “We have eight services operating this year, six of which are traditional, such as weather forecasts, climatology, marine meteorology, etc. The other two are committees in certain important areas of the national economy.
It has materialized however that gives way to the Mariel Special Development Zone, where there is a new type of station, with the integration of activities such as weather forecasting, marine meteorology and air pollution. He pointed out that a systematic service is being provided to the interests of the region.
Even the creativity of those working at Insmet is enough to solve internal situations of the system, such as difficulties with technology.
Indeed, according to Guevara Velazco, many monitoring systems or tools work thanks to the contribution of specialists, technicians and engineers that give them vitality.
For example, innovation in meteorological radars has allowed the export of these services to other countries in the region. It was also useful in the network of stations over 50 or 60 years old, some as many as a hundred, and in the transition to advanced technology.
Certainly, the work of the National Meteorological System, since 1965, with the founding of Insmet – it does not matter if through real-time research with forecasts, or with projects proposed every year – provides all the necessary information that makes it possible to ensure the safety of human lives and reduce loss of material goods in the event of dangerous phenomena; Rather, it improves the service itself and contributes to the scientific development of meteorology in the country.