Weather officials were criticized Monday over a last-minute warning issued Saturday night when gale force winds reached Cyprus, wreaking havoc and causing damages in parts of the island.
According to local media, heavy rain and gale force winds reached Cyprus late Saturday night, causing damages in some parts of the island, such as knocking down street signs, uprooting trees, and causing minor structural damages.
Weather service director Kleanthis Nicolaides, who was a guest on state radio Monday morning, was peppered with questions during a news programme, as to why officials failed to issue a weather alert in advance.
Weather alerts are issued by the meteorology department as warnings, but there is no emergency system in place to issue or update urgent advisories over specific areas
According to Nicolaides, very strong winds were included in previous forecasts for late night on the weekend, with the official admitting it was a mistake for the meteorology department not to issue a yellow warning ahead of time.
A yellow warning for four hours was issued Saturday night at 10:29pm, efective at 10:30pm as the system was passing through the island.
Asked if the weather department had adequate information to warn citizens and local authorities about late night gale force winds, Nicolaides said a prediction for an alert was not made because officials relied on actual data that had been different from that of predictive models.
“But we could have issued a warning sooner,” the director said, while adding “even if a yellow warning was issued in advance, nothing could have been done about it.”
Gale force winds are known to break twigs off trees while severe gale can uproot trees and cause structural damage including rooftops of sheds in open or rural areas.
In some cases glass windows were smashed to pieces while local media said both residential and commercial structures including a hotel sustained damages but no injuries were reported.
Local media also said there were power outages and road closures in some areas, with local crews responding Sunday morning.
Weather alerts in the Republic of Cyprus are issued by the meteorological department as warnings, while there is no effective emergency system in place to issue or update urgent advisories over specific areas.