Weather Models Key to Haiti Recovery Effort

Chris Westfall
Chris Westfall

Two regional organizations are scrambling to prepare new weather models as Haiti enters the 2010 hurricane season.

The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) are working together to develop new weather prediction and simple surface water flow models for Haiti prior to the April 1 hurricane season start, according to a CCRIF statement

The models will help the government and non-governmental aid organizations resettle the population displaced by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake without putting them in further danger from hurricane-related flooding and landslides, the statement said.

“This data is important for informing rescue and recovery efforts in earthquake-impacted areas and indicating hydrometeorological risks to resettlement camps, especially those in, or close to, low lying areas and stream channels,” said Dr. David Farrell, principal of CIMH.

The CIMH began running high-resolution (4km, 48 hour) weather prediction models shortly after the January 12 earthquake and the group is now making them publicly available. The models can be accessed at

Separately, the CIMH is developing simple surface water flow models for key drainage basins that will use historical rainfall records derived from the CCRIF rainfall model. This model will be refined to develop flood hazard maps for critical basins, and will also be made available to the public.

According to the statement, the CCRIF and the CIMH will hold a workshop in Barbados later this month with representatives from the Caribbean disaster management, meteorological and finance communities to discuss the CCRIF/CIMH rainfall model.

Last month, the CCRIF paid out approximately $7.5 million to the Haitian government as part of its claim for the January quake.