The Response to Extreme Weather Events Depends on Development

This is part 2 of 'Climate Change Increases the Need for Effective Weather Monitoring' - Read part 1 here

Image Credit: Paul Hanley/

How the Climate Response Differs from Developed to Developing Countries

The impact of environmental challenges, such as tsunamis, hurricanes and typhoons, can equally be found in developed nations such as Japan and the US.

While they face the same challenges as developing nations in terms of damage, the cost to lives is less significant compared to countries like Bangladesh, which do not have early warning systems.

Take the hurricane that occurred in the United States as an example; the casualties were much lower in contrast to several other countries in the world where hundreds of people died or were displaced as a result of adverse weather events.

The damage cannot be prevented, but the overall impact can be reduced if enough early warnings are created and if there is sufficient data to evacuate communities and bring their livelihood back.

The key parameters for early warning systems are temperature, rainfall and wind direction. If the amount of rainfall can be predicted, the amount of flooding in low-lying regions can also be estimated and models can be performed.

OTT HydroMet normally provides stations with close to five-minute intensity or 15-minute data intervals. When needed, real-time monitoring is possible (but requires more power, obviously). This data is collected in the models and is run to create 24-, 48- and 72-hour predictions. Predictions can also be made over a longer period of time.

The Scope of OTT HydroMet’s Caribbean Project: The DVRP Project

OTT HydroMet has recently undertaken work in the Caribbean. Fifty automatic weather stations were supplied to the Caribbean Climate Change Center. The Island of Grenada was given a network of around 37 stations through the Regional Disaster World Vulnerability Reduction Program.

This is called the DVRP project, which was funded by the World Bank. OTT HydroMet supplied similar hydrological stations, along with meteorological stations with evaporation, soil moisture, soil temperature and agriculture centers.

The aim of these stations is not just to assist in hazards or provide early warning; they are also multipurpose and are utilized for watershed management, water resources and drought management.

The stations also benefit a region agriculturally by determining the soil moisture and temperature, which means they can predict when farmers need to put water to the crops and identify the correct season for fertilization. 

Many predictions are made to optimize crop yield, making the stations serve a general purpose, more than flood warnings or emergency management responses.

OTT HydroMet supplies meteorological, hydrological and agricultural stations, which are all important parameters that are part of the sensors.

OTT HydroMet’s Customer Relationship Strategy

OTT HydroMet is made of eight strongs brands and therefore differentiated in the market with over 580 years of collected experience in the development of instruments for meteorology and hydrology.

While several competitors also share a longstanding history in this field, OTT HydroMet provides a comprehensive range of solutions along with providing quality products.

While many other businesses provide products and let the customer decide how to use them, OTT HydroMet employs experts in the industry that work with the customer as a consultant or partner.

The organization believes that projects are only effective when the projects have been successful over a three-, five- or ten-year period. When businesses supply products to customers without maintaining this relationship, customers often find that they do not know how to maintain or operate the equipment after a few years.

This is where OTT HydroMet has a different strategy with its customers. The business works with customers like they are a partner, relies on its loval expertise, and wants the solutions to be effective as this will provide greater value to their community and to the world.

OTT HydroMet’s approach is not just to work with the customers but to train them as much as possible during installations, offer pre- and post-sales, educate them on the type of instrumentation and how it should be used, and build their capacity.

For example, without the knowledge of the correct sensor to use, customers may use certain sensors in rivers that may not last for a long time due to high sedimentation. It may be better for them to use a non-contact sensor such as a velocity sensor or a radar rather than a contact sensor.

The primary strategy begins with education and capacity building. It also starts with a post-sales service where the business can support its customers.

The company often encourages its customers to use and fix equipment autonomously with remote support so that they understand how to maintain and operate the equipment in a self-reliant manner. This helps the customer in the long term as they do not need to depend on foreign companies or funds to support them.

Once they are trained, customers can continue to expand the portfolio by introducing more stations and building a sustainable network. Sustainability is where OTT HydroMet differs in the market in the way that the company works with its customers.

Tailoring Solutions to Different Topographies

OTT HydroMet aim to adhere to the WMO standards and international standards like ICAO GRF (Flobal Reporting Format for runways on airports), along with local institution standards. Every geography and country vary according to their needs, so the stations must be designed to work effectively with the local climate.

For example, in Africa, white powdered coated aluminum boxes are utilized instead of gray metal boxes because there is significant heat in Africa and the Middle East, which means if a dark color enclosure is used, the heat will be focused internally rather than externally.

Vandalism is also a significant challenge in Africa. OTT HydroMet’s installations and solar panels are concealed for this reason, and care is taken not to leave visible or shiny objects outside, such as a tipping bucket.

The environment differs again in the Caribbean, where there is significant moisture in the air. Significant corrosion is present due to the seawater on the island, which means the enclosures must be made of a different material.

The material used in this environment is NEMA 4X corrosion-proof fiberglass, which provides an anti-corrosive environment along with strength. Different regions also have different fencing requirements.

OTT HydroMet differentiates itself from competitors due to its tailored approach. The organization works with individual clients and analyzes their topography, geography, , climate and security needs (IT and vandalism), and then designs products and stations that are tailored to the specific area.

Younger Generations Entering the Hydro-Meteorological Field

Globally, there has been an increase in education on climate change issues compared to five years ago. While young talent exists in the hydro meteorological field, there has traditionally been a shortage due to the way in which digital transformation and IT structure is developing in the world, where excellent salaries are offered for IT fields.

Young people who are passionate about the climate and weather are pursuing careers in meteorology and hydrology, and the younger generation in countries across the globe are entering the field. In many countries, education and work on domestic hydrological, meteorological, and agricultural projects is considered a great service for their country.

Two Noteworthy Projects

OTT HydroMet has worked on many projects that have made a difference. One such project was its work in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina occurred in 2005.

The city of New Orleans was in disarray, and the Army Corps of Engineers contracted OTT HydroMet to assist as it was the only business with the ability to create a station that could transmit utilizing fiber optic cellular satellites and the Iridium satellite system simultaneously.

The army was looking for a station that could perform in an extreme environment with 99.9% reliability. They chose OTT HydroMet for this project, and it was a great success in a high growth region.

The business had a huge impact on the billion-dollar pumping station that was built in New Orleans. They can still remotely let the customer know when the pumps are running or not running.

Deadly Waves - Glacier Lake Outburst Floods in the Himalayan

Another notable project for OTT HydroMet was its work in Bhutan in the 1990s when a glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF) occurred.

GLOF events occur in warm environments where lakes are formed at very high elevations due to glaciers melting. During warming, if the ice becomes weak, these lakes burst, and millions of gallons of water can seep down into settlements. Many people died in this event as the water came gushing down from the mountains to the river.

In 2010, a tender was supplied for the installment of an effective GLOF early warning system in Bhutan. Upon analyzing the specifications of the tender, OTT HydroMet noticed that VHF radios were requested. The business considered Iridium satellite to be a superior and more reliable system, so a different design was created.

The customer chose OTT HydroMet’s design, and the system was installed 3,000 to 4,000 meters up in the glacier mountains. The system included water level monitoring stations and many siren stations downstream. This system has now been running for 10 years.

Bhutan’s government has been working with OTT HydroMet as true partners, and the monitoring system continues to work today.

The government is now hoping to expand this system with the completion of another basin. While discussions were taking place, interim companies have supplied instrumentation as part of JICA aid or from other institutions.

The equipment from other companies proved to be ineffective. Thus, the customer came to OTT HydroMet to expand the system because historically, they had provided the best equipment for the last ten years.

This was a proud moment for OTT HydroMet because it demonstrated that the small stations provided in its projects and systems could make a huge contribution to the world.



This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by OTT HydroMet - Meteorology.

For more information on this source, please visit OTT HydroMet - Meteorology.


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