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Hurricane puts satellite technology through its paces

Antonio Rodríguez Alayón-2The ground receiving station at the Cuban Meteorological Institute (INSMET) installed in 2017 was put through its paces by a tremendous natural force. During September 2017, as Hurricane Irma swept into Havana, average wind speeds were measured at approximately 110 km/h with gusts peaking at 131 km/h. As it moved through the region and closer to INSMET, researchers feared the worst for their technology.

The station continued operating as the hurricane approached – but as it reached its peak over Havana, the antennae had to be switched off for safety reasons. The next morning, it was clear that the antenna and dish had not only survived unscathed but continued working as normal, despite the battering they had taken from this incredible storm.

Antonio Rodríguez Alayón, Computer Science Specialist at INSMET, said: “It was almost providential that we had this new system in our country right at the beginning of the hurricane season in Cuba in June of last year… The system not only helped us observe these devastating giants in detail, but helped us to better forecast their trajectory and intensity… For the national weather service of Cuba, having a system like this is something valuable.”

For environmental agencies, meteorological offices and fishing and coast guard services, accessing accurate and timely information is of the upmost importance to keep the damage created by natural disasters to a minimum. Data collected from their new eOsphere satellite technology is also being used in Cuba to provide an early warning system for floods and forest fires.