Weather service says they are taking lessons learned from Gita to heart
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Elinor Lutu-McMoore, Meterologist in-Charge at the Weather Service Of ce (WSO) in Tafuna said that her of ce learned a lot from Tropical Storm Gita, and this will help to improve their service to the public in the future.
“Tropical Cyclone Gita taught us many lessons and I believe that from those good lessons, our team will continue to improve our service in the future and to make sure, the public will be well informed,” Lutu-McMoore said, during an interview with Samoa News last week.
Of particular importance was the fact that the local weather service communications were knocked out during Gita, when the power and communications lines went down at the airport, where the NSO is located.
Service was not restored until much later — after the worse of Gita and the monsoon trough had moved away from American Samoa.
This resulted in local radio stations and others seeking information on the storm/ cyclone to look to Samoa and Fiji weather broadcasters, whose communication systems were still up and transmitting.
“One of the things people were concerned a lot about during Gita was our power was out, and that is one of the many things that we’re working on right now.
“Another thing was when communication lines also went down,” she said. “We want the public to know that we are working on these issues right now — with our backup generator — so that our people will receive the right information they are looking for during the time of the storm.”
When asked about the lack of a backup power supply for their office during the storm, Lutu- McMoore said their office does have a backup generator, which was working when the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) power went off on the morning of Friday, Feb. 9.
“Our backup generator was running well immediately when the ASPA power went off, unfortunately, the generator worked for about 50 minutes before complete failure — and went off that morning,” Lutu- McMoore said.
“I was told that some of the generator’s parts needed to be repaired. We received help from an ASPA crew to try and fix and repair the parts for us, unfortunately the equipment could not be repaired at that time and it was identified that parts had to be shipped from off-island.”
Lutu-McMoore said that she is thankful to the Department of Homeland Security for providing a backup generator to help with their service.
The Meterologist said that one of the lessons they have learned from Gita was that they need to do maintenance on their generator — parts included — to avoid anything like what happened during Gita to happen in the future.
When our local Weather Service Office lost power, Lutu-McMoore said the Honolulu Forecast Office took over issuing weather reports for American Samoa.
“I understand why some of our people were frustrated when the power went off and there were no weather reports for them during the storm. As I mentioned before, we have learned a lot from Gita which gave us the green light on what we should work on to upgrade our service in the future,” Lutu-McMoore.
“I urge the community to voice and share their feedback with the weather office, whether it’s good or bad, because from there, we can build a good working relationship with the community in the future,” she said.
Lutu-McMoore thanked the quick response and help from ASPA and ASTCA crews and also from many other ASG representatives who offered their help.
She assured the community that what they have learned from the lessons of Gita will help them fulfill their obligation in the future.