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Arlene Laing appointed coordinating director of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization

The Caribbean Meteorological Council has appointed Dr Arlene Laing as the new coordinating director of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO). Laing succeeds Tyrone Sutherland, who retired after a 50-year international career in meteorology that started in his native Saint Lucia back in 1968.

Sutherland was one of two early meteorologists to lead the development of the Saint Lucia Meteorological Service, which he headed until early 1982. He then spent the next 10 years as a meteorologist and severe storms specialist with the Meteorological Service of Canada.

In 1992, he joined the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), where he worked as a scientific officer in its Tropical Cyclone Program, then as the executive assistant to the WMO secretary-general. After resigning from WMO to take up his post at the CMO in 1999, he represented the Caribbean in WMO affairs and was elected by WMO as a member of its Executive Council, a position he retained until his retirement.

In the Caribbean, Sutherland will be remembered for leading the modernization of the Caribbean weather radar network that provides radar coverage of the region, from Belize to Guyana. Under his leadership, the CMO has worked closely with countries in North America, Central America and the Caribbean to ensure the region is served by a modern warning system for tropical storms, hurricanes, and other severe weather.

His successor, Dr Laing, is a native of Jamaica and has experience as a weather forecaster, research scientist, university professor, and trainer in operational weather forecasting. She earned a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from the University of the West Indies, then completed a master’s degree and doctoral degree in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University in the USA.

Prior to joining the CMO, Laing was a scientific analyst at NOAA. She also served as a project facilitator at the Weather Prediction Center of the US National Weather Service and spent several years as a researcher at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. She is the lead author of Introduction to tropical meteorology, a peer-reviewed online textbook, and co-author of the award-winning book, Meteorology of tropical West Africa: The forecasters’ handbook.

- January 2019

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