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Satellite based weather tracking system now operational

Department of Homeland Security has a new capability to track severe weather conditions while the weekend’s testing of the outdoor siren warning system was a success.

ASDHS director Mike Sala says the new system, called the Emergency Management Weather Information Network, or EMWIN, provides the emergency management community with access to a set of National Weather Service (NWS) warnings, watches, forecasts, and other products at no cost to the territory.

The new tracking system was installed recently and is now operational at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Tafuna. The system is satellite based and does not rely on internet connection, which makes it unique and adds to American Samoa’s emergency management capabilities. The EOC is managed and operated by ASDHS.

“This new system is another significant addition to our capabilities, to better prepare for and manage emergency situations when facing severe weather conditions and natural disasters,” Sala said last Friday. 

“Often times during disasters, our phone lines and internet service are down and this satellite based system will add to our capabilities, to keep our communications lines open with the National Weather Service in order to keep the community informed,” he added.

Training of TEMCO and EOC personnel on this new system was provided by NWS  Technician Marcus Langkilde and National Oceanic and Atmospheric contractor Collin Schultz, who were on hand to install the system.

Sala thanked NWS station manger Mase Akapo and NOAA Regional Manager Ed Yound and staff for providing this new capability for the territory, and for their continued support and commitment throughout the years.

Meanwhile, last Saturday’s territory-wide testing of the outdoor siren warning system, which involved technicians of the siren manufacturer, American Signal Corporation (ASC), who arrived more than a week ago, went very well.

“The test... was very successful in that the ASC technicians were able to positively test all sirens throughout the territory,” an ASDHS official told Samoa News yesterday. “There were a few minor bugs that existed since the system was commissioned but these are now resolved. The actual siren test went smoothly.”

There are currently 48 sirens in place, with the ones for Ofu and Aunu’u to be installed soon, pending surface transportation arrangements.