MAPPING MATTHEW: Met Service defends credibility of service after warning downgrade

October 03, 2016
Evan Thompson
Rudolph Brown Photo Sea has made its way onto the Leith Hall main road in St. Thomas
Rudolph Brown This man is taking steps to secure his property before Hurricane Matthew gets here. He was spotted in Golden Grove, eastern St Thomas on Monday.
Jermaine Barnaby These persons were on their way to a shelter in Manchioneall, Portland on Sunday.

Evan Thompson, head of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, has sought to defend the credibility of his organisation in light of the threat-level downgrade expected from Hurricane Matthew.

The National Hurricane Center, which is based in Miami, Florida, indicated yesterday afternoon that Jamaica was now likely to experience tropical-storm conditions from Matthew.

Jamaica was placed under a hurricane warning last Friday, and despite various models suggesting that Matthew was moving east of Jamaica, the authorities kept the country under high alert for impending disaster.

"We have never hidden anything that we have been saying, so I believe that our transparency should lead to us being considered to be credible," Thompson said.

Thompson, when asked whether the Met Service could have predicted the shift in the system earlier, said yes.

"It was seen to some extent," he said.

Thompson, however, explained that the erratic nature of Matthew and its slower-than-expected approach contributed to the delay in communicating to the public that Jamaica was no longer likely to experience hurricane-force conditions.

Up to press time last night, approximately 3,500 Jamaicans had gone to 158 emergency shelters as Hurricane Matthew threatened the country.

The hurricane has maintained Category Four status for more than 72 hours and is expected to hit the southwestern Haiti and southeastern Cuba on Tuesday.