Know Your Forecasters

All credit to the group of people working behind the scene at the Regional Weather Office of the Fiji Meteorological Service at Namaka, Nadi.
18 Dec 2020 10:55
Know Your Forecasters
From left: Technical officer Ratu Josaia Malaude, Senior Technical officer Narend Kumar, Scientific officer Priya Singh and Senior scientific officer and Forecaster Steve Meke. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Mariners, aviation, and the general public urgently seek to hear and read weather updates.

All credit to the group of people working behind the scene at the Regional Weather Office of the Fiji Meteorological Service at Namaka, Nadi.

They study the weather condition and deliver information to the media to disseminate to the general public.

Priya Singh

Priya Singh, 39, a scientific officer,  is one of them.

She works as a weather forecaster. Her work includes monitoring the weather and marine forecasts.

The mother-of-one child works 7am to 5:30pm during the cyclone season from November to April.

However, whenever there’s a need, she works overtime and does shift work.

She said despite the challenges, passion had been the main key to her success.

The former Xavier College student joined the Fiji Met Office in 2015. She was a lecturer at Fiji National University from 2009 to 2011.

She attained a Bachelor in Atmosphere and Ocean Science at the University of Melbourne.

From 2013 – 2014 she attained a postgraduate diploma in climate change at the University of the South Pacific.

She also graduated from the Meteorological Training Institute, Pune, Maharashtra India.

Originally from Yalalevu in Ba, Ms Singh said the significance of her job was about bringing awareness to people, especially during natural disasters like TC Yasa.

Steven Meke

Senior scientific officer, Steven Meke monitors and forecast cyclones.

“We analyse the system in terms of the tools that are available, a satellite which we estimate the intensity from,” he said.

 Key points:

The team use the satellite image to estimate the strength of the winds associated with the cyclones.

About the projected path, they look at the environment surrounding the systems and other weather models as well. They do consensus track or likely track the system will take in the next 72 hours.

They also look at the extent of the gale or the damaging gale-force winds and the extent of hurricane winds and storm winds.


“From that, we then make a weather bulletin or a warning. If it is going to affect any land areas. For TC Yasa we did the same as what was expected by people living in Fiji,” he said.

There are three shifts in the 24-hour operations.

“All the warning goes from here and goes up to the National Disaster Management Office. They are our hands on the ground, while we tell them of the hazards. Their hazards are those risk areas that will be vulnerable to the people.

“Our role is very important in telling them about the hazards we expect. We not only look after Fiji but we look after the region if there is a tropical cyclone as well. We monitor and name the cyclone as well,” he said.

Mr Meke, 36, is originally from Nawini, Buca Bay, Cakaudrove. He is married and has three children.

He attended Cathedral Secondary School in Suva before joining the University of the South Pacific where he did Bachelor in Mathematics and Physics.

He joined the Fiji Met Office in 2007 as a scientific officer.

Ratu Josaia Malaude

Ratu Josaia, 50, is another man who gathers information from weather stations in remote areas around the country including the maritime zone.

He is a shift supervisor. His team gets data from various stations located in most parts of the country including Rotuma and maritime islands in Lau, and those in Vanua Levu.

Data is being sent to the headquarters where it is packaged and handed to the forecasters to make maps.

“Rain or shine we would go outside to gather pressure from the instruments,” Mr Malaude said.

“We operate every six hours, three and it goes to hourly as we approach to the cyclones. We feed this information to the forecaster.  We will work on the timing as well.

“There are four people who man the platform but we have acquired more manpower from other division of Fiji Met.

“We would have a person who would look after aviation side. But since there are planes flying, he is free and is with the team.”

Mr Malaude, who is originally from Udu, Macuata joined the weather office in 1990.

He attended Swami Vivekananda College in Nadi.

He completed a Diploma in IT at the FNU. While at the Fiji Met, he has undergone many studies at the University of Hawaii.

He is married and has three children.

Narend Kumar

With more than 30 years of experience in the weather forecasting field, Narend Kumar still conveys the message of preparedness before disaster strikes.

The 54-year-old works as a senior technical officer.

Mr Kumar started in the Forecasting Division at the age of 21. He attended Swami Vivekananda College (formerly Shri Vivekananda High School).

He started as a technical assistant and was designated to a senior position. The father-of-four children has extensive experience in his work.




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