MEIDECC and Tonga Broadcasting Commission collaborate to deliver better Weather Services

Meteorologists on duty at Fua’amotu International Airport have begun morning weather briefings on Radio Tonga One as part of efforts to better deliver weather and climate information to the public.

This new initiative has been made possible by the Tonga Meteorological Services (TMS) a Department of the Ministry of MEIDECC and the Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC).

Director of Tonga Meteorological Service, ‘Ofa Fa’anunu said there is a need to improve their services that link directly with socio-economic development.

“I think there needs to be a change in the way weather and climate services are delivered. Virtually every occupation, every economic venture, every investment, every harvest depends on the weather and the climate.”

Mr Fa’anunu said Tonga took over its own forecasting responsibilities from Fiji in 2007.

There are 10 professionally trained World Meteorological Organization Certified Meteorologists.

“We now have a network of over 20 weather and ocean stations and communication facilities are improving. However, all that counts for nothing if the farmer growing his crops is not getting the weather and climate information, he needs to help him get a good yield or for Fisherman to go out and catch more fish. The road we have embarked on today is a simple one and that is to get the Forecaster to talk to the people directly on a daily basis. We hope that this will minimize misinterpretation and that the weather forecast can be conveyed in an easier action-oriented information for the people.

According to Mr Fa’anunu the new arrangement with TBC is targeted at getting across weather and climate smart actions and activities across all sectors.

Radio Tonga One (AM) is broadcast to the entire country.

The Chief Executive Officer of Tonga Broadcasting Commission, Viola Ulakai said TBC remains committed in its primary role of informing the public.

According to Mrs Ulakai, daily weather forecasts are broadcast by the team at TBC.

However, interactions with the Met Office are usually limited to only during times of cyclones, tsunami warnings or when the weather is bad.

“I very much appreciate this opportunity for us to work together more closely and interact with the Met Office daily. There are always challenges in conveying weather information and much of that is trying to convey the science or technical terms in a way that is meaningful to the public. I have agreed with the Director of MET to work on several initiatives including interactive training between broadcasters and weather forecasters and develop a MOU to layout our respective responsibilities and arrangements in broadcasting the weather.”

Mrs Ulakai acknowledged that there would be some challenges in the beginning.

She added that TBC is committed to this arrangement for the sake of providing better services for the people in the long run.

“I appreciate the energy MEIDECC is putting into strengthening this partnership. The new TBC Building Complex in almost completed as well under this partnership with the support of the government of Japan to support Multi Hazard Early Warnings as well”.

The daily morning weather briefing service involves a direct live on-air weather summary from the MET office at 6:15am conducted by the meteorologists on duty.

The content briefly describes the main meteorological situation of the day and any meteorological warnings associated.

The meteorologists on duty will also describe the expected kind of weather for the next 24 hours to be experienced by each individual island division of Tonga and a short description of the 10 days rainfall outlook for agriculture and other weather and climate dependent sectors.

It is envisioned that the daily morning weather briefing will enable the people of Tonga to use the weather forecasts services of TMS to help them and the various sectors that they are engaged in to better plan their routine activities and decision makings especially during these challenging times fighting the negative impacts of climate change and COVID19.


Photo supplied Caption: The new Tonga Broadcasting Commission complex funded by the Government of Japan is nearly completed.