80 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 27.5. 2016

May 29, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment
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We visited the Meteorological Station in Rua da Lazareto, it was very informative, and we had a lot of questions in regards to Feb 2010.

The Station (www.ipma.pt ) is run by the state as part of a national and international network. The observer Luisa gave us a professional tour; she does this with many groups.

Madeira has 118 stations, including one in P.Santo (but none on the Desertas or the Selvagens, too close). Most of them are running automatically and have to be maintained scrupulously. The one in Rua do Lazareto, active since 1947, is automatic and “manual”, as the observers take measures which cannot be delivered by mechanic devices (they have a scheme how to identify different forms of clouds). The Station has two observers and two meteorologists.

The team has to be one of the rare groups in Portugal which has to be punctual at work, the have to take several measurements at precise times each day.

Luisa then showed us the PCs which monitor the measurements of all 18 stations at any time, and the details they can obtain from each station. She then showed us all instruments to measure, temperature, humidity, air pressure etc in the house: very delicate instruments which were cleverly designed long time ago. She also showed us some measures outside (until we were chased inside by a shower).  One of them works with horse’s hair to measure humidity. They also take wind speed and the temperature in the soil in 50 cm and 1 m depth – no frost here, Sir.

The Station in Funchal (as in Azores and in Canarias, and some platforms on sea) releases a helium balloon every day at precisely 12 noon, with small instruments to measure the same data on the top level of the atmosphere (around 31.000 km). The balloons need around 1.5 hours to get there, then they burst and fall back to earth or into the sea (with batteries inside, but solar would not be powerful enough to transmit the radio signals back to the station). The container is equipped with a small parachute as not to hit somebody in the head, and sometimes people who find such a container, return them to the Station.

The Cupola above the station is not a planetarium but covers the old antenna which used to receive the balloon signals; now they us e smaller, more modern one.

The Station also measures seismic shocks with magnitude and epicenter – not much going on here but it is so sensitive that it registers heavy lorries driving nearby. Madeira has 2 -3 seismic shocks per year, the Azores have around one per day. The paper rolls written by the seismograph are sent to Lisbon for the archive.

All measurements are automatically sent to Lisbon where the national weather forecasts are drawn up. Lisbon also has access to satellite data. Lisbon then sends a 10-day forecast to the Civil Protection, the Capitanias and the Government for Fisheries and Agriculture, also to “Frente Mar” for the safety on the beaches.

Dra J., one of the meteorologists, joined us then, and we spoke about Feb 2010. U. supplied the data and email received by an American scientist about the incident – this was what they call an atmospheric river storm.

Madeira is supposed to have its own weather radar since long time, now it looks as if we’ll get it in 2016/2017; it will be installed in P. Santo. This would give the Station a better way to identify heavy loads of water arriving in the oncoming clouds.

Dra. J.said that the respective authorities were duly warned (“vermelho”)  but as we know from the Bombeiro visit, these guys knew what was coming from their own weather station in Monte.

Anyway, the warning was given and it would be up to the Civil Protection to amplify the warning to the population, by radio, TV or SMS; this is a political matter. Dra. J. said that, after Feb 2010 we had another atmospheric river hitting the Island, but at that time, Funchal received a lot of rain quickly, while the other half of the water arrived in Pico Areeiro and rained off at a much slower rate. This is why this situation, although also “vermelho”, didn’t cause any harm.

Feb 2010 was a lot of bad luck, and the population as a short memory when it comes to disasters. 

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