On April 11, the Pohnpei Weather Service Office held a ground breaking ceremony for a new facility in Kolonia Town. The four million dollar U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency National Weather Service (NOAA- NWS) initiative includes building design, environmental impact survey, and construction and project management services. Attending Monday's event was U.S. Ambassador to the F.S.M. Peter A. Prahar, Pohnpei State Governor John Ehsa, F.S.M. Department of Foreign Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary Berlino Martin, Kolonia Town Mayor Marcelo Peterson, NWS Pacific Region Representation Derek Leloy, Pohnpei Weather Station Official in Charge and F.S.M. Weather Service Coordinator (OIC/FSM WSC) Eden Skilling, U.S. Naval Facilities (NAVFAC) Engineering Command Marianas Ensign John Pouliot, Technicon Incorporated President Nixon Merekato, and Orion Construction Corporation Representative Mr. Miquel of Guam.
During his opening remarks, OIC/FSM WSC Skilling explained that the project will modernize and expand the Weather Service Office's capacity to capture meteorological data in the digital age. According to Skilling, "the outmoded equipment [utilized] today is being replaced with state-of-the-art equipment that requires additional space and better environmental control [by employing] materials that have a lot of recycled content, do not outgas toxic compounds, and use less energy."
For his part, Governor Ehsa thanked the U.S. Government for its continued assistance through the Weather Service. He highlighted the increased capacity for prompt disaster response with the recent move of the Micronesia Red Cross closer to the Weather Service Office. Ehsa also thanked the U.S. for the meteorologist scholarship extended to qualified and dedicated F.S.M. citizens who will return to work in the F.S.M.
Mentioning the recent tsunami alert from Japan, Ambassador Prahar highlighted "the vital role the Weather Service Office plays in protecting life and property…. [through its] warnings for tsunami, typhoons, floods, and mudslides." Noting the importance of the science education required to succeed in meteorological studies, Ambassador Prahar explained the necessity "to inspire and encourage young people to investigate, explore, and absorb knowledge about the world. Teaching youth to empower themselves with knowledge opens doors and motivates them to get the best education possible so they will have the best futures possible."
The Weather Service Office (WSO) in Pohnpei has been in operation since 1956. First part of the U.S. Weather Bureau, then part of the U.S National Weather Service, it is now the Weather Service Office of Pohnpei State, FSM, in partnership with the U.S. National Weather Service. It is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and is manned by twelve F.S.M. citizens.
Under the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency National Weather Service provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community.