FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Delores Clark
U.S. NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DEDICATES NEW BUILDING
Event Kicks Off Disaster Awareness Week in American Samoa
Today at Tafuna Airport, officials from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s National Weather Service (NWS) joined government leaders, members of the community, and managers from federal and local agencies, to dedicate the new National Weather Service Office in American Samoa (WSO Pago Pago). NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
"This facility represents a promise kept, and an important investment for the future safety of American Samoa's residents and the protection of their property during severe weather," said Jeff LaDouce, director of the National Weather Service Pacific Region. "On this occasion, I am pleased to join Governor Togiola Tulafono, Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, and TEMCO Director Toafa Vaiaga`e to inaugurate Disaster Awareness Week activities in American Samoa."
Weather service activities were first documented in American Samoa in January 1956 when a Supplemental Aviation Weather Reporting Station was established. In April 1964, a Federal Aviation Administration station assumed operations until April 1966 when the National Weather Service opened the existing station and began to support aviation and other weather programs in the islands. These programs continue today.
WSO Pago Pago is responsible for public service, aviation, coastal marine, tropical cyclone, climate, data acquisition, and facilities and electronics maintenance programs. Operating around the clock, the office issues public weather forecasts and warnings and high surf in English and Samoan, take-off weather forecasts, and coastal and offshore forecasts out to 100 nautical miles. The office, one of nine upper air stations in the Pacific, launches weather balloons twice a day simultaneously with others around the globe at 0000 and 1200 UTC (Universal Time Coordinated). In addition to supporting real time data requirements for operational forecasting, this data is used to study and evaluate climate change in the Pacific.
During tropical cyclones, WSO Pago Pago coordinates closely with the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu and Met Service Offices in Apia and Nadi to issue watches and warnings for American Samoa. Hurricanes Ofa (1990) and Val (1991) were the most recent cyclones to impact the Samoa islands, leaving major damage.
"The new building is constructed to withstand 180 mph winds," said Leloyd Acosta, NWS Official in Charge. "It has upgraded safety features including reinforced concrete walls and one piece roof deck, hurricane shutters on the doors and windows, and a covered backup generator."
Acosta added that the building also has many environmentally sustainable, energy saving, and security features. "The builders used non-toxic paints and sealants. Stainless steel was used for many of the fixtures to impede the harsh salt environment. Multiple light levels and energy efficient bulbs were selected for indoor lighting and the external lighting is directed downward to prevent night sky light pollution. Windows are designed to allow most spaces to be daylit, if desired. There is a new kitchen and shower. We have redundant air conditioning systems for extra reliability. The entrance gate is remotely controlled and security cameras monitor the grounds," he said.
Following the dedication ceremony, the Territorial Emergency Management Coordinating Office (TEMCO) is sponsoring a three-day, island-wide, educational program for high school seniors, including technical workshops to demonstrate hands-on survival skills. The theme of this year's Disaster Awareness Week is "Surviving the Crisis," which was inspired by the Sept. 11, 2002 terrorist incident in New York. The theme encourages all citizenry to work together to advocate disaster readiness in the territory.
NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.