Director of the Meteorological Services of Trinidad and Tobago Ezekiel Sampson

Hours after he appeared on a radio programme during which he disagreed with the decision by the National Hurricane Centre, Miami and the Barbados Met Services to upgrade Elsa to hurricane status yesterday, an investigation has been launched into the statements made by the director of the Meteorological Services of Trinidad and Tobago Ezekiel Sampson.

Confirming the investigation was launched into Sampson’s responses when he was contacted to talk about the impact Hurricane Elsa would have on this country from yesterday onwards, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales told Guardian Media, “The PS (Permanent Secretary) brought the matter to my attention this morning (yesterday) and I advised her take immediate action.”

When asked about the storm yesterday and the upgrade which saw a severe weather alert being issued, Sampson said, “No, I don’t agree with that.”

Pressed to say what he was in disagreement with, he answered, “It becoming a hurricane.”

Referencing reports out of Barbados which claimed wind gusts had reached 75 km/hr during the morning programme, Sampson said rainfall amounts were expected to be between two and three inches and because “The system doesn’t have any moisture so, therefore, I am not seeing that system surviving any further.”

Questioning the upgrade of Elsa to hurricane status by the Barbados Met Services, he insisted, “The system will deteriorate…it will.”

Defending his claims, the Director instead questioned, “Why has not a reconnaissance aircraft system flown into that system this morning (yesterday)as promised?”

He again insisted, “That system will deteriorate, it will.”

Sampson pointed fingers at the National Hurricane Centre, Miami who made the call as he said, “I vex about that.”

Turning his attention to the local landscape and the projected impact from Hurricane Elsa, he said between 25 mm and 50 mm of rainfall had been forecast for Trinidad.

Asked if this meant heavy rainfall was imminent, he answered, “I don’t know what is your idea of heavy.”

However, Sampson said the projected rainfall could lead to flash flooding and ponding. Ponding is water that remains on a surface for 48 hours or longer.

Sampson then offered his professional opinion and estimated that, “By Saturday afternoon, we should be okay. We will see the rainfall diminishing into Saturday.”

Hours after Sampson appeared on the programme and an investigation was subsequently launched, the Minister cautioned, “The matter is very sensitive and concerning, especially given the importance of the Meteorological Services Division and the integrity of the information it has to provide to T&T and the region.”

The comments made by the Met Services Director also prompted the Ministry of Public Utilities, under which the TTMS falls, to issue a statement giving details about Hurricane Elsa and its expected impact on this country yesterday and today.

When contacted last evening regarding his statements and the investigation, Sampson claimed to have been “vindicated.”

He asked, “Have I not been vindicated?”

The Met Services Director said apart from the projection of rainfall between 25 mm and 50 mm, “Have we gotten any storm strength activity?”

Pointing to the role the Barbados Met Services had played in issuing a regional weather alert, Sampson said, “T&T has a Met Services too.”

He said while Barbados was free to issue a weather alert, so too, “T&T was also on equal terms…will have to put out an alert.”

Regarding the investigation, he said, “The Minister is free to investigate me but I am saying, I have been vindicated.”

This statement he claimed, was in respect of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and its dependencies.

“I have been vindicated…so if he wants to investigate me, let him go ahead and investigate me or not.”