Nimba’s Wintry Weather: Urgent Need for Liberian Meteorologists

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The Nimba people awoke last Thursday to a terribly wintry morning.  Our Correspondent Ishmael Menkor reported wintry winds blew heavily until the evening, when it almost appeared as though snow had begun to fall. The cold weather was so severe, he observed,  that in early morning people felt as though cold water had wasted on their blankets.  The temperature on Thursday stood at record low 10 degrees centigrade.

This brings us quickly to the point:  where are our meteorologists or weather forecasters—people who have  studied the atmospheric phenomena and can advise us accurately on weather conditions.

We commend Correspondent Menkor for taking notice of the dramatic change in Nimba’s weather pattern and writing a fairly good story about it, which appeared in last Friday’s edition.  With no weather forecasters on Nimba’s radio stations, he  searched the Internet and found Nimba’s temperature reading that morning.  

In most other countries, especially in the developed world, Correspondent Menkor  would not have needed to go to the Internet to check the weather pattern.  Hundreds, if not thousands of weather forecasters would already  have been publicizing the weather conditions by the minute on radio and, of course, on television long before a newspaper reporter got them. 

Question: what kind of country do we live in—Liberia—where there seems to be absolutely no one with his or her finger on the educational pulse of the nation, determining by the minute what Liberia’s  educational needs are?  Year after year this newspaper has  been calling in this editorial column for the various government Ministries and Agencies to look for our talented and serious students, preparing them here as far as they can go in specialized training, then sending them abroad for advanced work, supporting and watching them closely until they return, at which time we would give them the necessary equipment to do their work. 

Thankfully, the Ministry of Agriculture has done some training, but the last we heard   was that many had returned but little provision had been made for their employ.

We have been after the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Public Works, the Liberia Telecommunication Authority, the Liberia Telecommunication Corporation, the Ministry of Health, the John F. Kennedy Medical Center and all the universities, beginning with the University of Liberia and Cuttington University to find, as a matter of urgency and sustained priority,  scholarships for the training of Liberia specialists and the appropriate areas.  When last, for example, has Public Works trained architects and civil, mechanical and structural engineers?  When last has Lands and Mines trained geologists, hydrologists, mining engineers and geophysicists?  How come though he was trained as far back as the 1960s, over 50 years ago, Senator Cletus Wotorson is still only the second geophysicist in the country?

Thankfully, the National Oil Company (NOCAL) has been vigorously training people in various professional areas in the petroleum industry.

Liberia’s first meteorologist was Mr. William Phillips and he was connected with the Department of Public Works.  The handful of Liberian meteorologists are connected with the Ministry of Transport, led by Mr. Arthur Gar-glahn, Director of the Liberia Meteorology Service.  He is Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations World Meteorology Organization (WMO).  Mr. Gar-glahn told the Daily Observer that his office lacks the capacity to undertake full meteorological operations because they have no equipment.  The only existent operations are at the Roberts International Airport, engaged in “aeronautical meteorology.”  Only one person there is certificated in meteorology by the International Civil Aviation Organization.  He advises incoming and outgoing airplanes on weather conditions.

It is about time that Africa’s oldest independent republic has full meteorological services not only for air transportation but for farmers and all else in the country; for even students, the military, the civil service and people in general need to know what  the weather will be like in the coming hours, days, weeks and months as they plan their various activities and schedules.

In this time of climate change, which affects all aspects of our lives, we need meteorologists more than ever before.  The Liberian government should immediately undertake a program to train   meteorologists so that at long last we will begin to have regular hourly and daily weather reports in Liberia.  We will better be able to plan our agricultural, developmental and all other activities.

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