3202177
Director of the Meteorological Services of Trinidad and Tobago Ezekiel Sampson

One day after the Ministry of Public Utilities launched an investigation into the public utterances by Acting Director, Meteorological Services Division, Ezekiel Sampson, on Friday, the matter has been referred to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to be dealt with in accordance with the Public Service Regulations.

The update from the Ministry of Public Utilities yesterday referred to Sampson’s comments regarding the categorisation of Hurricane Elsa which impacted T&T and the wider region.

The ministry advised, “Given the importance of the operations of the Meteorological Services Division to public interest locally and regionally, the Ministry of Public Utilities advises that with immediate effect and until further notice, all media releases and/or communications from the Meteorological Services Division, will be issued through the Office of the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Public Utilities.”

Sampson came under fire following an interview on I95.5FM during which he expressed disagreement with regional counterparts who had upgraded Elsa to hurricane status on Friday morning.

Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales confirmed late on Friday that an investigation had been launched.

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

He also expressed disagreement with the decision on Elsa “becoming a hurricane.”

Asked to say why he felt this way, Sampson claimed while rainfall amounts were forecast to be between two 25 mm and 50 mm locally, the system didn’t have any moisture hence, “I am not seeing that system surviving any further.”

Contacted late on Friday and asked to defend his comments, the Met Services acting head indicated his unhappiness with officials at the National Hurricane Centre for not sticking to a promise to fly a reconnaissance aircraft into the eye of the storm.

He shared his professional opinion that “By Saturday afternoon, we should be okay. We will see the rainfall diminishing into Saturday.”

On Friday, Gonzales admitted to being concerned about the incident as he said, “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.”

Sampson later claimed to have been “vindicated” as he pointed out that this country had not experienced any storm strength activity.