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  1. I was amused by the following email from a gentleman from Finland...he certainly is very enthusiastic - I find meteorology interesting, but I'm not sure I would carry a windmeter around like he does! Will post some radar images of the squall line he mentioned when I have the time. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello! I am a forecaster from Finnish Met. Institute. I got a chance to visit Singapore second time 24-30.4.2007. I traveled with my brother who was also last year visiting Singapore. Few reasons I wanted to contact you: 1) Possibility to visit your forecast office in Changi Airport in the future, 2) weather in Singapore during our stay, 3) special events during our stay 1) It would be a great honour to visit your forecasting office, maybe during next visit. The place is not best one if considered just after arrival (12-15 hours of flying from Helsinki) with all the luggage and immigration prosedures. On the other hand, paying a visit in the middle of the stay would mean to take a cab or MRT to Changi. In fact we traveled from Raffles Place to Changi via MRT. Would it be possible to pay a visit? I would contact weeks before time of the visit. I just would be interested of your day-to-day routines, forecasting models, effect of El Nino-La Nina to climate... 2) Year before (late April 2006) the weather was relatively dry with 3-4 days without any rain. Temperatures were also many times above 30 C. This time it was a little different story. We stayed one night longer but still it rained every single day (8 days a row). Temperatures has hard time reach 30 C. Typically it rained during night or in the morning and the cloud deck didn't vanish until the afternoon hours. It must have rained 120-150 mm locally during this period of our stay. Does shift from weak El Nino to near neutral in ENSO during December06, January-February07 has an impact? 3) I would like get little more info of these two events: On the nights 29th and 30th (3-4 AM) strong thunderstorm and strong wind keep us awake. What triggers strong nightly thunderstorms in Singapore/Malesiya area? Radiation cooling on the top of the cirrus? How many lightning strikes (cloud to ground) strong storms produce usually? I noticed that local people doesn't care a lot even when lightning strikes rumbles very near. Some tall skyscrapers may take few strikes? This 30th April nightly event was even more bizzar. Usually in the tropics no strong winds are observed even with thunder. Last year I measured with my portable windmeter of 13 m/s gusts from the 28th floor of Swissotel the Stamford. This time we were on the same side (baywye) but on the 51th floor (120-130 m AGL). At 3 AM 30.4.2007 strong haueling wind woke us. It was raining heavily but no thunder was heard. I did not go to balcony because of the lightning risk. The wind was blowing pretty hard about 10-15 min. I would estimate that the gusts were near 15 m/s. We even sceared some clothes drying on the balcony floor could lift up. Of course our position was over 100 m above sea level, but I think there was strong gusts even on the ground level. What was behind this event? Downdrafts? How strong can winds be in strong thunderstorms? Ps. In our opinion Singapore is by far the best country we have visited. Clean, hospitality and everything. Growing traffic and Casinos built may be some conserns in the future. XXX forecaster, Finnish Meteorological Institute Helsinki, Finland
  2. In early 1998, we heard that a team of mountaineers from Singapore was planning to try climbing Mt Everest. They were hoping MSS could provide them with weather data, & I remember two of the team (I think Khoo Swee Chiow & Johann Annuar) coming to our office to have a look at what was available. Unlike the days of Edmund Hillary, things are so high-tech now that we were able to email the data to them every day. Since that first expedition, there have been many others, but at the time it was a novelty especially as Singapore is a tropical island & does not have an alpine environment. Public interest in mountain climbing was limited to nearby Mt Kinabalu & Mt Ophir, & although a lot of Singaporeans do go trekking in Nepal, something like a full-scale climb of a mountain like Everest was unheard of. The media gave the team quite a lot of coverage, & at that time the Singapore Omnitheatre also decided to feature the film "EVEREST - The Movie". It was interesting discovering how gruelling the climb can be. I also approved of the respect our climbers showed for the mountain - when the press kept harping about how we were going to "conquer Everest", one of the team finally said, "We do not conquer Chomalungma (as the Tibetans call the mountain). Chomalungma, if she is willing, allows us to climb her." Edwin Siew & Khoo Swee Chiow at the summit Since we were providing them with weather data, I was more than a little interested in the team's progress, & was glad when two of the climbers, Edwin Siew and Khoo Swee Chiow, made it to the summit on 27 May 1998. I think a lot of people didn't really believe they would make it. There was, however, quite a furore when it was discovered that the two who planted the Singapore flag on the summit were Malaysians (Singapore permanent residents). David Lim, the team leader, has given answers to this and other objections. (Incidentally, both Edwin Siew & Khoo Swee Chiow have since taken up Singapore citizenship). After their success, the team was grateful to those who had supported & believed in their cause, & posed with various sponsors' banners for photos. They asked MSS if we had a banner (we had sent them the data free of charge) but it hadn't occurred to us to have one made. When I later contacted Johann Annuar to ask for a few photos for our Annual Report, he was most helpful. Johann was an undergrad at NUS at the time & I met up with him at his hostel (Eusoff Hall) to look through the photos. I asked him for an account of the weather conditions there, & came up with this report : "One of the major obstacles to the expedition’s success was the harsh weather conditions the team would experience. The timing of the expedition was scheduled with this in mind, taking place from early March (the end of winter) to late May (late spring) when conditions are mildest. At over 8000 metres above sea-level – almost the cruising level of most commercial aircraft – air is extremely thin; team members risked the danger of mountain sickness, and had to spend several weeks acclimatizing as they ascended from Camp 4 to Base Camp. With only a thin layer of atmosphere as a shield against radiation from space, sunlight, and in particular ultraviolet radiation, was very intense, so much so that temperatures during the daytime at Base Camp tended to become quite hot; a thermometer in one of the tents was known to have recorded more than 40oC at one time. During the nights, temperatures inside the tents would plummet to –20o C, while outside the tents, with windchill and other factors, it reached as low as –40oC. Khoo Swee Chiow showing two extremes of temperature Base Camp was mostly sheltered from the more severe forms of weather, being surrounded on three sides by mountains at the end of a valley. The weather there followed a diurnal cycle, with mornings starting off fair and temperatures becoming quite warm in the afternoons. At around 4pm, conditions would normally deteriorate as katabatic winds would start to blow down from the higher peaks, bringing extensive snow with them. Strong winds blow snow off the summit The team suffered a setback on 1 April when a violent windstorm swept down upon the camp around 2am, sending team members scrambling for cover as tent poles snapped and tents collapsed. Nearly all the Singapore team’s tents were destroyed. Team members estimated the winds ranged between 120-150 km/hr, while the sherpas present claimed that winds of such force are usually only encountered at much higher altitudes. The incident set the expedition back for about a week as new tents and equipment had to be obtained. Aftermath of the windstorm A bad spate of weather also occurred during the second week of May, when heavy snowfall reduced visibility to 200 metres and winds of up to 180 km/hr were whipping the mountain. The weather was so severe that the team built a helicopter landing pad near Base Camp in case they needed to be evacuated at short notice. Another threat to the expedition came from farther afield in the form of Tropical Cyclone “01B” which formed in the Bay of Bengal on 18 May. Its presence caused the Singapore team some anxiety as after making landfall, the remnants of the cyclone could easily track over to the Himalayas and cause heavy snowfall over the Everest region. This might have been so had the storm tracked north-northwest; fortunately, it chose to follow a more northeasterly track, making landfall near Chitaggong, Bangladesh, before dissipating on 20 May with minimal effect on the expedition."
  3. When Pat & I started work, colleagues would sometimes joke that we should double up as TV weather girls for MSS. Fortunately, MSS tried this out sometime before we joined & scrapped the idea because none of the forecasters was telegenic enough. Personally I would find it quite horrid to have to appear on TV. :lol: Some years later we really did have some weather girls, the first of which was Charlene, sister of one of our local actors Adrian Pang. Presenting weather on TV isn't as straightforward as it might seem. For one thing, there is actually nothing behind you but a green screen. There was a PS21 Exhibition at Suntec City that year (its lengthy aim was : to showcase the govt's vision in attaining a 1st-class civil service for the 21st Century), & MSS had a booth with a large green stage where members of the public were allowed to try giving a TV weather presentation. Our boss reminded those of us manning the booth not to wear anything green unless we wanted a disembodied appearance on screen. It was quite a success - I remember one guy who actually went off to buy a green T-shirt & came back wearing it just for the fun of seeing how he'd look with it on TV. :lol: Charlene was there as well, & got to show our then Prime Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong, the ropes. Unfortunately the TV weather presentation was scrapped from the evening news after a while, because it got to be very monotonous. Singapore's daily temperature range doesn't vary much from day to day (around 24 to 32 deg Celsius) & it is possible to get rain every day. There aren't any distinct weather features like frontal systems either; nor is the general public very interested in weather. Also, none of the weather girls lasted very long, partly because none of them were meteorologists (as I think weather presenters in other countries are) - they were using it as a stepping stone to bigger things. We had a whole string of them; one went on to star in some other local TV dramas. There was one who wasn't very good-looking & one of my aunts used to be rather unkind about her. "Who's that girl on TV?! Terrible, her face looks like a horse!!!" Charlene & Mr Goh Our best presenter was Charlene. It took her a while to get the hang of presenting, but once she did she was very good. My supervisor once remarked that "Charlene's now pointing all over the place on the screen". She left after a while, & the last I heard she'd taken up a career in singing with her own band.
  4. THE ASMC A few days after I started work, I discovered that MSS was hosting a research centre called the ASMC (ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre). At that time there were three scientists attached there, Dr Rosa Perez from PAGASA (the Philippines' Met. Office) and Tukul Rameyo Adi & Suratno from BMG, Indonesia. Adi and Suratno were not exactly meteorologists but doing some technical work for BMG. Adi once showed me his wedding photo & I couldn't help laughing because although he looked very nice in his Javanese costume, he had this glassy-eyed expression of disbelief on his face. When Rosa's stint ended, she said before leaving, "We shall meet again. Meteorology is a small world." This turned out to be true, because I met her some years later in Manila (she seemed to have forgotten me by then, though! :lol: ) Adi also reappeared in our office a couple of years later when he returned for a training workshop. It was nice seeing him again, with his sheepish grin. The next two ASMC scientists I met were also from PAGASA : Jun & Bubut. I was quite puzzled by their names at first, until I discovered that Jun's real name was Landrico Dalida Jr and that "Jun" was short for "Junior". Bubut (pronounced Boo-Boot) kept insisting her real name was Bubut until someone else told me it was Fredolina Baldonando. There have been several other ASMC scientists, including a pretty woman meteorologist from Vietnam, but I didn't get to see them much as they seldom came over to the Operations office. EDMUND On my first day at work, the Deputy Director noticed that the desk I was using in the library was dusty, so he went off & reappeared with an elderly technician by the name of Edmund, & told him to clean the desk. I felt pretty embarrassed; it's not as if I can't clean my own desk. Anyway I got to chatting with Edmund; he was a wily & intelligent character, & since I was stuck alone in the library for those first few months (while waiting to go to Reading), he was more or less the first friend I had in MSS. He said his official title was Port Met. Officer, but that this was just a glorified term for the technician who visits the ships that carry our met. equipment. (There are a number of ships that have agreed to carry our met. equipment & collect weather data, & it was Edmund's job to visit them when they came to port in order to collect the data sheets & replace equipment parts when necessary). Edmund would pop by the library sometimes & feed me various bits of gossip about the office; & although there were a lot of things about MSS that he didn't seem happy with, still I noticed he took a lot of pride in doing his job well. Besides collecting ship data, it was also his duty to look through the newspapers every day & cut out all articles related to weather & file them away. He was so meticulous about this that he looked through everything, even the sports section, & if there was even one line mentioning weather (eg that it drizzled during a football match) he would cut the entire article out. It was Edmund who arranged that Pat & I visit the Changi observing station & also our Upper Air Laboratory at Paya Lebar where the balloon carrying the radiosonde was released. He also arranged for me to accompany him during one of his ship visits. It was interesting - once you enter the container terminal, it's like entering a different world. There are none of the usual road markings & it seemed to me that the vehicles there were simply driving wherever they wanted. The vehicles were enormous (they had to be, in order to transport the containers) & I was quite terrified that one of these monsters would collide with us & crush Edmund's car to a pulp. (I could just imagine the car crumpling up like a piece of paper). The ship seemed enormous too & it was scary climbing the rope ladder up & the climb seemed to take forever. Edmund, in his usual glib manner, informed me that the sailors on board probably hadn't seen a woman for weeks & would be leering at me. However, everyone was very polite while we were there & we collected the data & left without me noticing any leering. The only time I was ever unhappy with Edmund was when he made me sell T-shirts for him to raise funds for his church & didn't bother to sell any himself. I was quite indignant when I found out I was doing all the work for him! Other than that he has been a good friend & I always enjoyed getting updates from him about his wife & kids & listening to all his stories. I think he could have done better than work at MSS. He said if he were younger & had the capital he'd like to open a restaurant. He speaks well & auditioned to be a DJ once. He seemed interested in everything & once amused me by telling me he reads everything, even the labels on cans. I sometimes think I could take a leaf out of his book. :lol: SCIENCE CENTRE BOOKLETS The Singapore Science Centre has published a series of little guide books which I like a lot, on nearly every aspect of Singapore's flora and fauna - wayside trees, birds, sealife, & flowers, to name a few. Some years ago they wanted to have one on the weather of Singapore as well, & asked MSS to help write it. Unfortunately, the project fell through due to lack of funding. I really felt it was a pity, it would be nice if we could have our own weather pocket guide book at last.
  5. Asian Aerospace is an international trade fair for the aerospace business. It was based at the Changi Exhibition Centre near Changi Airport for a number of years, and is the biggest airshow event in Asia. A Liaison Officer (L.O.) is usually attached to each of the high-ranking foreign delegates coming to attend the Exhibition. The L.O.'s job is basically to receive the delegate when he arrives at the airport, facilitate and ensure his attendance at the various meetings, & send him off when he leaves. A number of the participants were also bringing their wives with them, however. The wives were not here to attend the Exhibition, but to shop. Even so, as a token of courtesy, CAAS (the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore) also wanted to appoint L.O.s to each of the wives, & since there was a lack of manpower they contacted the various departments around the airport & asked them to nominate some of their staff to help out. Met. Service decided to send Pat and me. We had a briefing where we were each given a handout on what an L.O.'s duties are, how to address the Minister (Your Excellency) & deport ourselves (Dress smartly, etc.). That last section included a line that said, "If you have body odour kindly use a deodorant." Several people sniggered when they saw this. I was to be L.O. to Mrs Agum Gumelar, the wife of the Indonesian Minister for Communications. Pat was to be L.O. to the wife of the Thai Minister. We were to get their passports from the Minister's aides & bring them to immigration, & bring the wives around to the shops while their husbands attended the Aerospace Exhibition (& probably carry their shopping bags as well, in other words, be slave for a day). Someone asked how we were to recognise the Minister when he came off the plane, & the CAAS chap briefing us chortled & said, "He'll be the one all the rest are bowing & scraping to." When the fateful day came, I went to the airport VIP lounge for the first time, and found that the Indonesian Embassy staff were also there. When the Minister appeared, I didn't notice a lot of scraping but there was some bowing (from the Embassy staff) and rapid exchange in Bahasa Indonesia. Mrs Agum Gumelar was a pretty & gentle lady; when she stepped off the plane & saw me, she shook my hand and said gravely, "Ni hao" ("How are you" in Chinese). In the end I didn't have much to do because the Embassy staff took over & did everything. The same happened with Pat - the Thai Embassy staff came in & took over. However, Eng Chin, the girl who was L.O. to the Thai Minister, asked Pat to give her some moral support during the Opening Ceremony (which was to be held at Suntec City, although the Exhibition itself was at Changi), so I decided to tag along for fun. Eng Chin had to go to the hotel (Westin Stamford) first, see the Minister to his car, then jump into the limo provided & rush to Suntec City, reaching there before the Minister arrived so that she could receive him. Then she was to hand the tickets to the Minister's aides so that he could enter the auditorium. I met her & Pat at Westin; I was amazed when I entered the hotel lobby - it was full of naval, air force & military officers from every country, all resplendent in their uniforms, many highly decorated, some in red, others white, navy blue or green. They looked very impressive, & all of them seemed extremely tall. I would have liked to have stayed & admired them for a bit, but we had to rush up to the Thai Minister's hotel room. When we got there, we discovered that the Minister had already left. We dashed down again, through the lobby where all the officers were milling around, & out to the limousine where our young Malay driver was waiting. Eng Chin panted, "Sazali, drive as fast as you can to Suntec!" There was a terrific jam, however. Not surprising since most of the delegates were staying at the same hotel & all of them were going to the Opening Ceremony at the same time. It was quite a sight, seeing the entire road crammed with limousines. By the time we reached Suntec, the Minister had vanished. Eng Chin kept trying to call one of his aides on her mobile. We were running around, first up to the auditorium, then down again. Then we tried to take the lift up again but found that all the lifts had now been frozen because the Prime Minister had arrived. We ran to the escalators, but they too had been frozen, so we had to run up all six floors. When we reached the top it appeared that the Thai Minister had already gone into the auditorium despite not having a ticket. Eng Chin still wanted to pass the tickets to the aide, so we went into the VIP area to look for him. We had to pass through the banquet hall first, & I was busy observing how grand everything looked - the food was all ready & waiting, trays & trays of hors d'oeuvres, stretching (so it seemed) to the horizon, barbecued meats kept warm & sizzling, a mountain of fruit, a vast array of empty champagne glasses ... we rushed through into the VIP room. I have never seen so many of our cabinet ministers together in such close proximity before (I noticed in particular Tony Tan, because of his white hair). Anyway the Thai aide wasn't there either, so we went out again. Eng Chin was trying to call him. There was a crowd milling around outside the auditorium, & I was idly watching a man with a crewcut walking around in circles, talking on his mobile. Eng Chin was talking into her mobile. "Where are you?" Pause. "I'm out here, outside the auditorium." Pause. "You're where?" She kept peering into the crowd. "I'm outside, I'm standing next to the railing." Then her eyes suddenly fell on the crewcut guy a few feet away. "Oh hang on, you're right in front of me." Since the Embassy staff had taken over everything, there was nothing for me & Pat to do until the last day when we were to see the Ministers off at the airport. I did take advantage of the fact that I had an entry pass to the Exhibition grounds, & brought a friend in with me so that we could watch the aerial displays. I enjoyed it but I wish I knew more about fighter jets; we couldn't recognise most of the aircraft we were looking at (I tried eavesdropping on two guys who were standing near us, hoping for a commentary, but without success). Actually, since I stay near the airport I can usually watch some of the aircraft practising their displays whenever Asian Aerospace comes around. There was even one year when the Stealth came to Singapore. I never got to see that, but our technicians at the observing station next to the Changi runway did. They said it looked like a huge bat. I did get to see another bomber from my home window & it really looked menacing. I never knew bombers were so large. On the final day, I got to chat a little with Mrs Agum Gumelar. From her passport I had seen that her name was Linda Amaliasari, and one of the Embassy staff had whispered to me that she was the daughter of the Communications Minister during the Suharto era. Despite that, she was a pleasant lady & had no airs. I was rather shocked when she told me she was 53 yrs old; she really looked youthful, & except for a thickening of her body, her face looked no more than 30, girlish even. She said she had just visited a friend here in Singapore, who was expecting a child after trying for 12 years. Then she said she had two girls of her own, & had only managed to conceive after 3 years. "Yes, it takes a while," she said. This conversation stuck in my mind because D & I had been married for a few years by then & were thinking of starting a family. As she was leaving, she said, "There are many rooms in my house. When you come to Jakarta you can stay with me." Of course this was a pleasantry since I didn't have her address, but she said it in a simple & sincere tone. She gave me several pieces of silvery-grey batik silk cloth as a farewell present. We had actually been instructed not to accept gifts, or if we did, to hand them in. However I left the silks in my car & forgot about them until the Exhibition was long over, & I felt there was no point trying to hand them in by then. I didn't know what to do with them - they were good quality silks, & yet not the kind of thing I could imagine myself wearing. Somehow I didn't have the heart to give them away, though, I think because I rather liked Mrs Agum Gumelar & felt it would be nice to have something to remember her by. The silks were kept away in my cupboard for a long time; but I finally had them tailored into dresses last year.
  6. Group photo : Mrs Lourdes Tibig is in the 2nd row, 5th from left. Donald Tambunan (from the ASEAN Secretariat) is in front, extreme right. Next to him is Mr E.H. Al-Majed, the WMO rep. ASCMG is the ASEAN Subcommittee on Meteorology and Geophysics. It oversees collaboration between the ASEAN member countries in coordinating various programmes, sharing information (such as that on haze pollution & volcanic ash), & implementing warning systems. The Subcommittee meets annually, and in 1997 Singapore hosted the Meeting. I was assigned to help out that year. The first thing I had to do was make nametags & invitation cards. The nametags were to come in two colours, blue for those of us in the organising committee (called the Local Secretariat) & grey for the delegates. The invitation cards were for two official dinners the delegates were to attend, one hosted by our Director & the other by the Minister of State for Communications. One of our officers over at the Admin section, HS, was overall in charge. She was very meticulous & particular, & a stickler for doing things by the book. At that time, Laos & Myanmar had just joined ASEAN, & HS cautioned me about using the correct logo because the number of rice stalks on it had now changed from 8 to 10 (one for each member country). She also wanted me to print the logo in the EXACT specified colours (namely Pantone Blue 286, Pantone Red 032 & Pantone Process Yellow). I felt it was unrealistic to think one could get the exact colours using an Epson printer; whatever is seen on the PC monitor isn't going to be exactly the same colour when printed out using a home printer, unless a proper calibration has been done. We could have asked a professional printer to do the job, but I guess we were working on a tight budget & it wasn't practical to get it professionally done for such a small number of nametags/cards. Fortunately HS seemed satisfied with what I produced. After that she led me to a room where a pile of briefcases was lying on the floor next to a mountain of photocopied papers. I was rather shocked when she told me to sort the papers out & put one set into each briefcase. This is a mindless task & the office attendant could have done it. I enjoy sorting out things for church work or charity events, but in this case MSS had already spent a lot of money training me to be a meteorologist & it didn't make sense to be paying me a Division 1 Officer's salary & having me do Division 4 work. However since this was a one-off thing, I supposed it didn't really matter. I was at it the whole morning, & around noon HS appeared, looking flustered, & told me to go for lunch & that she would finish the job. The delegates were basically the Directors or Deputy Directors of all the ASEAN Met. Offices. A representative from WMO and another from the ASEAN Secretariat were also coming. Most of the delegates were arriving the day before the Meeting, & Johnny, one of our Technical Officers, asked me to drive the ASEAN Secretariat rep from the airport to the hotel. The rep's name was Donald Tambunan, and Johnny told me, with a twinkle in his eye, that he was Indonesian, and a "nice & chatty young man". When I met him he certainly turned out to be an animated & talkative young man (reminding me in some ways of his famous Duck namesake), & very enthusiastic about his job. Even so I was racking my brains wondering what to say to him in the car, because I knew next to nothing about the ASEAN Secretariat. Fortunately Johnny came along with another passenger for me, Mrs Lourdes Tibig from the Philippines. She had come in place of her Director, & seemed a veteran at meetings like these, so she & Donald had plenty to talk about during the drive to the hotel. The first thing the participants from Laos, Vietnam & Myanmar did was to check out of the hotel (Merchant Court) & check into a cheaper one, I forget where now. I discovered this was their usual practice whenever they travelled overseas for seminars or meetings. They manage to save quite a lot of their allowance by doing so. On the first morning I helped man the reception, handing the delegates their nametags & one briefcase each. This was my first time at such an event, so I found it interesting. When the Meeting started, my colleague CS was chuckling because he'd discovered that one of the Vietnamese women delegates was a Senator; he seemed quite tickled by this. I was supposed to help record minutes. I wasn't that familiar with all the programmes the Subcommittee had been coordinating, but fortunately we had the agenda in front of us, & rather than miss anything I resorted to what I normally do during uni lectures - simply scribble down everything that was said, whether I understood it or not! :lol: Donald Tambunan was in his element during the Meeting. The WMO rep (I think it was Mr E.H. Al-Majed) was a quiet man, who only spoke up when he had to. For some reason CS found Donald quite amusing. There were also a couple of informal discussions held late at night, which CS had to chair, & he was chuckling after one of them because it seems that some of the delegates preferred listening to Mr Al-Majed rather than Donald Tambunan. The latter was quite agitated by this. "But they should listen to me!" he protested, "This is an ASEAN meeting! I am from the ASEAN Secretariat! I am more important than him!!" During one of the tea breaks, one of the Vietnamese delegates approached us & wanted a softcopy of the nametags because the next ASCMG Meeting was going to be held in Vietnam. I tried explaining to him that he would have to somehow erase the dates if he wanted to use it. Someone who went to Vietnam the following year for the Meeting came back & told me that the nametags there had been virtually identical to those I had made. CS was the one doing most of the work for the minutes, & he had to stay up late to finish them before the last day so that they could be approved by the delegates & a copy made for each delegate to bring back. As the final session was ending, the Thai Director-General started handing out gifts of small notebooks bound with Jim Thompson Thai silk. After the Meeting I had to ferry Mr Al-Majed & two of the Malaysian delegates to the airport. I didn't have to worry about conversation this time, because one of the Malaysians talked nonstop all the way. It was pretty amazing - he just went on & on, a virtual monologue. I've never met anyone since who has been able to talk like that. A few days after the Meeting, HS gave each of the Local Secretariat a small gift to thank us for our hard work. It was quite nice of her; I received a letter holder in soft, pale wood, & am still using it to hold all my bookmarks to this day. The Local Secretariat take a picture; letter holder
  7. The second airbase I was posted to was Sembawang. It is a helicopter base, open 24 hrs. The Met. Office there was much more pleasant than at Tengah, mainly because there were many large windows. There was also a balcony for observation, & the only direction that couldn't be viewed was south. The working hours were more regular too, either a morning shift (0730 - 1400hrs) or afternoon shift (1330 - 2200hrs). The senior forecaster there at the time was Mr L. He was a nice guy, but very fond of talking. I'd heard a story about how he'd been talking to one of the other forecasters when the latter suddenly felt the urge to visit the gents'. No matter, Mr L followed him all the way there, continuing the conversation, stood outside still talking while the poor man did the necessary, then followed him back to the office again, still talking. The head technician was a jovial Malay fellow who was always so cheerful that he usually managed to improve my mood, no matter how gloomy I was feeling. Then there was an Indian technician who amused me because he was such a total Anglophile. He'd been a technician back during RAF days, & thought the British were wonderful. He'd changed his own surname to a British name, become an Anglican, & sent his daughter to London to study. I had to give a weekly weather briefing here too but only to the senior officers, a group of about 10; and they weren't bothered at all about whether I started off by wishing them good morning or not. Being at Sembawang was nice because I've always liked the sound of helicopters (but I like the sleepy, distant drone of propeller planes more, they bring back memories of lazy afternoons at seaside chalets during my school holidays). I often watched the choppers from the balcony, especially at night when the sound of the whirring blades seemed even louder & more dramatic. So far the only airbase I haven't worked at is Paya Lebar. That is where American fighter jets (normally from Diego Garcia) land to refuel before leaving for their next stop (Guam, I think). It was also where President George W. Bush was received when he came to Singapore. Of course, security there was extremely tight during the visit. My colleague W (the Hong Kong chap) was stationed there at the time, and kept moaning that any terrorist attack would be directed at the airbase. Despite his complaints, I think he was pretty excited; I guess he got to see Air Force One as well.
  8. Besides doing civilian work at Changi Airport, we also have forecasters stationed at military airbases around the island. There was a shortage of manpower at one time, so several of the Changi forecasters had to cover duty there, including me. The work consisted mainly of monitoring the weather and issuing a warning if a thunderstorm was going to affect the airbase. It was a good experience because I did a lot more outdoor observation there than I did at Changi. In Changi, we were issuing warnings for locations far from the airport, so we had to rely mostly on the radar. At the airbases, we spent a lot more time peering at the sky & watching the clouds develop. The first airbase I went to was Tengah. It was large and sprawling, and many of the buildings were old, including the Met. Office, which was situated below the control tower overlooking the runway. It was a small office, & the forecaster's room was a claustrophobic little cell with no windows except for a small square of glass in the door. The radar display was housed in an adjoining room, where the aircon was so cold that temperatures seemed to reach arctic levels. Every time the phone rang, I would dash to the radar room to have a look first before running back to answer, in case it was the control tower calling for an update. The other disadvantage was that we were surrounded on three sides by trees, so that the only unimpeded view of the sky we had was westward over the runway. This meant that the control tower ironically had a much better view of the clouds developing than we did. Tengah had the most peculiar work hours I have seen. They were something like this : Mon 0730-1330hrs Tue 0730-2130hrs Wed 1330-2130hrs Thur Rest day Fri 0730-1815hrs Sat Rest day Sun Standby There were two other forecasters there, an Indian gentleman called KT, and also Dr CT, who had done his PhD in Japan. Both have since retired. Dr CT was a short & bespectacled man with a loud voice whom everyone affectionately referred to as "Doctor". He was simple & good-natured, & the NS boys loved teasing him (Actually they should be called National Servicemen, but they were only about 17 or 18 yrs of age. National Service is compulsory in Singapore). The head technician there was Mr Y, & I liked hearing about his treks in Nepal & various stories about the airbase. I remember him telling me that there used to be a cobra living in a hole in the ground near the Stevenson screen; it was quite bold, & used to come outside in the mornings to sunbathe. I once got into trouble with KT because I was experimenting with some animated cursors on the PC (it being a fair day so I had some free time). I tried out this little walking dinosaur & forgot to reinstall the old arrow cursor before I went home. The thing about the dinosaur cursor is that the cursor tip is the tip of the tail, but Mr KT didn't know that. The following day I got a lecture from him & was told not to change the settings in the PC in the future. When he'd left, Mr Y, shaking with laughter, told me that KT had become very agitated the day before when he'd discovered the arrow cursor had suddenly turned into a walking dinosaur. He couldn't select anything on the PC screen, & called Y for help. It took them a while to figure out how to get the arrow cursor back. We had to give a weather briefing to all the squadrons every week, & Doctor carefully told me what to do. I must open with "Good morning, Base Commander, Deputy Commander, ladies and gentlemen". The trouble is, I didn't know what the Base Commander looked like. The hall is huge, all the squadrons are present, & I'm up there on the stage looking at them from a distance. I had no idea whether the Base Commander was there or not. He sometimes wasn't present & the Deputy would take over instead. I usually solved the problem by only saying "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen." I discovered that this wouldn't do, though. No formal complaint was made, but the message got passed down verbally that it wasn't correct protocol. My reasoning was that it would be ridiculous if I greeted the Base Commander when he wasn't present. Fortunately I was only at the airbase temporarily, & I was a civilian & not in the employ of Ministry of Defence, or I guess I would have been demoted. Another peculiar procedure everyone had to do was F.O.D. - Foreign Object Detection. When driving in to the control tower it is necessary to cross the runway at one point, & there was an occasion when some debris got sucked into the engine of one of the aircraft. Whether the debris came from the tyres of a vehicle or not, from then on everyone had to stop their car, get out & examine their tyres before proceeding onto the runway. As a result, on approaching the runway one could often see several cars parked there, with their occupants crouched in various positions next to them. It took me a while to get used to working at Tengah, especially having to listen to the deafening screech of F16s all day long. Despite the noise I did like watching them, in particular the takeoff and landing. I don't know why but there's always something magical about watching an airplane take flight. I enjoyed watching them practising for NDP as well, flying in formation. One morning I was also lucky enough to catch a parachute jump taking place overhead; it was a nice sight, all the little brightly coloured parachutes in the sky. But the best times were in the evenings, when flying had ended for the day. Then a silence descended on the airbase, & it was very pleasant to stand outside & watch the sun set over the runway. This is one of the few places in Singapore where there are no buildings in view, only trees. There was usually a gentle breeze blowing, and a small flock of white birds swirling around in the distance, egrets perhaps. It was a very restful scene.
  9. Pat is one of those ultra-neat people. When we were in Reading her room was always unimagineably tidy, & in the office her locker is always spick & span, books nicely arranged, not a thing out of place. She is always careful & meticulous in her work, and I have never seen her lose her temper. She was posted to our climatology section recently, where our archives are kept & which is in charge of met. equipment. Part of her work involves providing weather data required for insurance claims, and also for court cases. Once, she SMSed me and said she was at court. She had been waiting there for 6 hours for her turn - it was a murder case, and she was needed as witness to confirm whether rain could have washed out the evidence. She was whiling her time away by listening to the CID officers tell police stories. When her turn finally came, it only lasted 6 minutes. On another occasion, a client requested that a weather station be set up on Jurong Island, so she had to drive all around the Island to find a suitable place to locate it. I thought it interesting because not everyone can enter the Island, you need a pass to gain entry. Singapore is hosting the IMF-World Bank meeting in a few weeks' time & the organisers have requested we set up a weather station in case there's a terrorist toxic gas attack (in which case they'd want to know the wind direction and speed to determine how the gas is being dispersed). So that's going to be Pat's next project. (When I told D this he commented that such a weather station would be useless because the technician manning it would probably have been knocked out by the gas anyway). Some of our forecasters give courses on Aviation Meteorology at the Singapore Aviation Academy, and I SMSed Pat last week to ask for a softcopy of her lecture notes in case I have to do it in the future. I didn't want to bug her too much so I said D could come over to her office & get the files from her. She SMSed back, "The files are huge." Then she said she would burn them onto a CD for me & leave it in either D's or my locker. That's her, considerate. D brought the CD back on Saturday. I didn't have time to look at it at once because we were rushing off for mass. (On an unrelated note, on the way to church we passed the Japanese School and to my delight I saw a lot of cute little Japanese children hurrying along the pavement in their colourful kimonos. D said oh yes, the School was celebrating some festival that day, they'd asked us for a forecast and to monitor the weather for them. I really regretted not bringing my camera!). When I got home later, I had a look at the CD. She'd even made a label with an aeroplane & some text & stuck it on. Man. So typical of her.
  10. We have several SAREX (Search and Rescue Exercises) every year, organised by the RCC (Rescue Coordination Centre). The date of the SAREX is usually faxed to us a few months before & most of the forecasters can then be seen checking the roster to see who's going to be on duty that day. The rescue location is announced on the day itself, & our job consists of providing wind, weather & sea state conditions every 3 hours for that area. During the time I've worked here, I've encountered real-life SARs (Search & Rescues) twice : On 19 Dec 1997, Silkair flight 185 crashed into the Musi River near Palembang, enroute from Jakarta to Singapore. The crash was surrounded by much controversy amid speculation that the pilot deliberately crashed the aircraft in a mass suicide/homicide. All 104 people on board died. On 3 Jan 2003, a Singapore navy ship, the RSS Courageous, collided with a merchant vessel, the ANL Indonesia, near Horsburgh Lighthouse. ANL Indonesia didn't seem too severely damaged, but the navy ship looked bad. Four young Navy women officers who had been in the sleeping quarters at the aft of the ship were reported missing. I jotted this down at the time : "We didn't start the SAR here till yesterday morning, although the collision took place the previous night; and last night they stopped as well, and only started again this morning at dawn. The RCC has only requested data till 0200UTC tomorrow (10am local time). What does that mean? Do they think they will be able to find the women by 10am?" The RCC was supposed to call during my night shift to let me know when they were stopping for the night, but they didn't (later I discovered it was an oversight on their part). I remember being in the brightly-lit airconditioned office, & thinking that it was hard to imagine what it must be like to be out there in the dark, combing the sea for bodies. Of the four missing officers, only three bodies were recovered; the fourth woman was never found.
  11. One of our duties in the Met. Service is to answer phone calls. There are routine ones, like those from the Security Officers (S.O.'s) to various Ministers, who call in the morning to get the day's forecast. Sometimes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs might call because they are receiving some visiting Head of State or foreign dignitary at the airport & want to know the expected weather at the time. Once, D played an April Fool's joke on me by calling & pretending to be the S.O. to the Prime Minister. I was very polite - until I found out it was actually him. We get more calls just when we don't have the time to attend to them, which is during bad weather. Imagine having to answer the phone when you're issuing 15 different lightning risk warnings, monitoring the radar to see if you should extend/cancel any of them, trying to finish your routine work, & issuing trend statements. On a worse day, the pc might hang, so you have to waste time rebooting it, & when you do you discover someone has changed the password & no one seems to know what it is now, or the printer will get paper jam & you have to fix that. Sometimes an earthquake in Indonesia can trigger tremors here, mostly in highrise buildings. We also get a surge of calls then; the first time this happened, people vacated their apartments because they thought the building was going to collapse, & they were too afraid to go back in. The phone simply rang nonstop that night ... the minute the forecaster on duty put the phone down, it rang again. Finally he had to ignore it or he would never have gotten his routine work done. During another such incident, an American woman called & said, "Will you please talk to my husband. I told him I saw the walls moving and he doesn't believe me." We've also had several "Serial Callers". One was a retired lawyer who would call whenever it was raining heavily over his house. He would talk for ages, telling us how long it had been raining there, that his roof was leaking, ask what the outlook for this year was, what season it was, & so on. He had his "favourite" forecasters (i.e. those patient enough to accomodate him & answer all his questions), one of whom was Pat, & also C (our toothbrush man). Sometimes when attending to him, my mind would be elsewhere because he always called when the weather was bad meaning I was also doing several other things at the same time. This would displease him; he would ask my name, then tell me he'd spoken to my colleagues Pat and C before, they were very kind, etc etc. One day when things were busier than usual, one of the forecasters asked Mr Lawyer to call back later. This annoyed him, & he promptly faxed a complaint to our office. Since it's office policy to treat all complaints seriously, our boss had to waste yet more time responding to him. There was also a Caucasian man who would call in the morning for the day's forecast. After you'd given it to him, he would continue asking, "but will it rain in the morning? What about the afternoon?" "Will there be thunder?" "I'm afraid of thunder" "What about the evening?" "What about tomorrow?" After that he would call again several times during the day & repeat the entire sequence of questions. We never really found out who he was. One colleague claimed he was a chef who worked in Cockpit Hotel & that he was returning to Australia soon. Another said his accent wasn't real & that he was actually a Singaporean masquerading as an Australian. All I know is that his tel no had 666 in it & whenever I saw the 666 flash on the caller display, my heart would sink. He may have really returned to Australia in the end, because he eventually stopped calling. Then there was this elderly man whom we nicknamed "Basil's Brother" because his voice was similar to Basil, one of our technicians. He didn't want the forecast; he only wanted to talk, and only to the ladies. If a male answered the phone, he would hang up. One day one of our technicians answered the phone, and for some reason, Basil's Brother started cursing & swearing violently at him. We have a short, plump, feisty office attendant called R, & the following day when Basil's Brother called again, she grabbed the phone from me & said, "Who are you ah? Why you keep calling?" Basil's Brother promptly exploded & started screaming! I was standing a few feet from R & I could hear him shrieking, "You pig! Pig!!!" R is a devout muslim so I thought she'd get angry, but she didn't. Fortunately, he stopped calling soon after that. Then there are those calls that I remember fondly, like the night a woman called, excited, and said she had seen a UFO near Kheam Hock Rd. Shortly after a newspaper reporter also called & said people had sighted UFOs over the Botanic Gardens. Next, someone from Tanglin police station called & said the same thing. I don't know why people call us for such things. After all, this is a weather forecast office. I could only tell them that we don't have an observation station in that area so I didn't have any information for them. Some time later, there was another similar incident when the UFOs turned out to be spotlights from an outdoor concert shining onto the bases of some low cloud. Then there was a man who called one night because he could see a lot of lightning in the sky. I looked at the radar, but there were no echoes. Either the thunderstorm was very far away (at least several hundred km, possible because at night lightning can be seen from a great distance) or there was an electrical storm nearby with no precipitation. Anyway, he was really excited. He seemed to think I didn't really understand what he was seeing. He said urgently, "You've got to see it! Go out and take a look!" I really liked how enthusiastic he was, because Singaporeans generally aren't very passionate about the weather. There was also another man who called me at 2am in the morning because he'd seen a meteor falling. He, too, was terribly excited. "It was still burning when it hit the ground!!!" He said he'd been watching tv when he saw it, and had switched the tv off and just stood at his window for a while waiting to see if another would fall. He kept repeating, "It was still burning when it hit the ground!" He really wanted to see another one, & asked me if it was possible. I didn't want to disappoint him, so I said yes it was possible, there are times of the year when you get many of these, & reminded him about the Leonid meteors (there was a lot of fuss about these in Singapore at the time). After he'd hung up, I could imagine him standing at his window, peering out hopefully for another shooting star. I really hope he got his wish.
  12. When Pat & I returned to Singapore, we were each assigned to understudy a senior forecaster and started operational work. The shift considered of a 6-day cycle : 2 day shifts, then a night shift followed by 3 days off. The first day shift was devoted to aviation and shipping, while the second involved public weather forecasts, issuing TAFs & trend statements & sending out lightning risk warnings to various clients, mostly golf courses & construction companies. Night shift included all of these, but fortunately the golf courses & most construction firms closed at night so there were fewer warnings to issue. The forecasters have a locker room & I was given my own locker where I kept my met. books & sleeping bag. There was a table there where the kettle & toaster resided. It was also where the forecasters left edibles which were meant to be shared by everyone - usually chocolates or titbits bought during an overseas workshop, or pineapple tarts/various biscuits for Chinese New Year. It was understood that any edibles left on this table were for everyone's consumption. Therefore, leave your personal snacks there at your own peril, or else return & find them gone. One custom I found strange was the forecasters' habit of using the word "weather" to imply "bad weather" i.e. any form of precipitation. Eg they would say, "Any weather expected today?" "There was a lot of weather last night." "Shift was OK today, there wasn't any weather." I was mystified at first. How can there be no weather? There is always weather, whether good or bad, sunny or rainy. Then it was entertaining to discover the quirks of various colleagues. I was assigned to understudy W, a forecaster who used to be from Hong Kong. He was noisy & sociable; he would assign me some job to do, then while I applied myself to it, he would roam around the office, checking the radar & weather charts, & singing various songs in Cantonese. Then he took great relish in ordering me around, checking my work & picking out my mistakes with glee. No matter how carefully I checked my sigwx chart before showing it to him, there was always one little label I'd forgotten to delete or one cloud left unlabelled. I got my own back on him, though. One night a member of the public called & asked when the Southern Cross could be seen. Luckily I'd been noticing it above my neighbour's roof around 8pm during that time of the year. W had never heard of the Southern Cross. "What's that?" he asked, and then he looked rather sheepish. Another colleague was C. He was excellent at technical things & programming, but occasionally absent minded. He would brush his teeth in the gents' after lunch, put the toothbrush in his back pocket & then forget it was there, & walk around with it sticking out of his back trousers pocket for the rest of the day. Then there was S who was a walking encyclopaedia of Chinese culture, & who also had a huge library of books in both English & Chinese. What is remarkable too is that he really reads all his books. He is one of those people who manages to never stop learning & keeping up with things current, whether it be IT (always armed with his pda & mobile phone), developments in met., or current affairs. He is also a certified Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. Then there was H from China, who was already an experienced meteorologist when he joined us. Because of his experience, he was pretty good at doing the routine work. On one occasion, though, I overheard him attending to an enquiry from someone going to Beijing for a holiday. "Yes, 7 degrees Celsius," H was saying earnestly, "that is the minimum temperature now." Pause. Then, "No, not cold. 7 is not cold, you wear one jacket should be OK." I almost choked on my drink. In Singapore the temperature is quite uniform, usually about 24 to 32 deg Celsius. I waited till he put the phone down, & then, trying not to laugh, told him, "H, to YOU, 7 degrees isn't cold. To a Singaporean, it is VERY cold!" Hopefully the poor caller didn't freeze during his holiday. Then there was G. When I first joined, he sported a moustache & everyone joked that he looked like the Hong Kong actor George Lam. In fact, whenever he went to Hong Kong for meetings, he was tickled because the people there also would comment that he looked like George Lam. One day, he shocked everyone by shaving the moustache off. It was quite peculiar seeing him without it. When asked about it, he just joked that he was protesting against Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian's antics of getting himself shot in the stomach. The following day, D decided to tease him by pretending not to recognise him. "Who are you?" he demanded fiercely, glaring at G when the latter arrived in the office, briefcase in hand. "Over there, over there, sign your name," waving him toward the counter where visitors are supposed to register. G just smiled.
  13. Today is Singapore's Independence Day. We were a British colony until 1965. There will be a parade this evening, called the National Day Parade (NDP). It is one of the major events of the year, with several thousand spectators & displays from the military as well as government & private groups, & dance performances by schoolchildren. The president, prime minister & all members of parliament will be present. Part of the celebrations includes a military flypast of F16s from our Air Force, & also a spectacular fireworks display. Because of this, the organisers are often quite anxious about the weather. The parade organisers come from a different unit of the army every year. This year it is the Guards unit. My office gets different amounts of stress depending on who the organiser is. Some are not too concerned about the weather, & are content to have us fax them a forecast a week or so before. Others are very concerned, & require regular forecasts & updates weeks before the event; they also want a forecaster to be on site at the Parade grounds so that they can grill you in person. Besides the actual day on 9 Aug, a preview of the Parade is also given to schoolchildren (called the National Education Show, or N.E. Show) & to the public (called the Preview). This year's NE Show & Preview already took place several weeks ago. I was on duty on-site a couple of years ago, during the NE Show. I was on my toes, because several thousand schoolchildren were going to be watching, & if they caught pneumonia by sitting in the rain I would have felt responsible. Fortunately the weather wasn't bad that day, & the showers cleared up before the parade started. The organisers that year were from the Armour unit, & in my opinion they were rather paranoid about the weather. In particular, I had this chubby officer, Major L, fussing about the forecast all the time. He had worked out a very complicated flowchart to present to his boss incorporating the weather (i.e. if it rains, then one action is carried out, if fair weather, then carry on etc etc.) He had even arranged for a Fokker to fly around at intervals, collecting wind data. Although the parade didn't start till 6pm, I had to be on-site by 10am because there were a lot of preparations being carried out. Major L was all in a dither when echoes started popping up on the radar in the afternoon. By 4pm I could see that they were dissipating, though, so I gave him the all-clear. His eyes were bulging, because he could still see the echoes on the radar. "But how do you KNOW?" Later he kept calling the office to find out how the forecasts were done. My boss joked that he had taught Major L so much about forecasting that should he decide to leave the army, he could always come & work for us. I found it interesting being in the control room, anyway, & seeing how things were being done. The colonel who was in charge of everything was quite a nice chap; after I'd explained the radar animation to him, he gave a slow, pleased smile & said, "I learned something new today." Another officer was checking on the schoolchildren. "How many have arrived? Have any gotten lost so far?" "No, but there's a big queue at the toilets." At the end there was a mix-up in the no of schoolbuses arriving to pick the children up, & the officer was very angry; he said he couldn't have a few hundred children stranded there. I had fun chatting to the doctors there, too. They kept surveying the performers out on the field with a pair of binoculars to see if anyone had fainted in the heat. One was half Japanese & had studied as a child in Japan; he knew a lot more about the weather than most Singaporeans do. I enjoyed talking to one of the Warrant Officers, Gordon, who was attending the same religious instruction class as D at that time. But the best part of the parade was the fireworks - not the fireworks themselves, but the reaction of the schoolchildren to them. Imagine several thousand little children crying out "Ooooh!!!" in amazement at each burst of colour; it was really funny & moving. B) Well, it's 10.30am and D is on duty at the Parade grounds now. Our latest radar plot shows a little thunderstorm nearby. It should clear up soon and the weather this evening looks like it will be OK. Happy Birthday, Singapore.
  14. My first post. I have been wanting to keep a weather blog for some time, because after working for a no. of years in this field, I find that there are quite a lot of memorable events I'd like to record down. I didn't plan to be a meteorologist initially. I did physics at uni & wasn't sure what I wanted to do after that. Most of my classmates planned to teach, or join something related to the electronics sector. In my 2nd yr, one of my lecturers, Dr Lim Hock, gave a lecture on meteorology. I found it interesting; Lim Hock had worked for 8 yrs in the Singapore Met Service & when I met him later to ask him about the job, he wasn't encouraging. However Dr Mark Hogan, who was in the Atomic Lab with me, laughed when I mentioned this & said that it wasn't surprising, considering Dr Lim had chosen to leave the Met. Service. I applied after graduating and when I received the phone call telling me I'd got the job, the EO asked me when I wanted to start work. I was surprised, because I thought one is normally told when you are required to start work. I decided to take a holiday before embarking on working life, so I said, June 16. I went to Tioman with Beetle Bailey, whom I'd known since Pri 1. We flew there by Pelangi Air, which owned a fleet of decrepit propeller planes. On the day we were to leave for home, we discovered at the airport that all the Pelangi planes had broken down. This put us in a spot; I had to get back by the next day to start work. Some of the passengers were cabin crew from KLM, and needed urgently to get back to Singapore as well. In the end we took a motor boat to Mersing and from there a cab down to Singapore. I remember the boat ride well - it's exciting being in a small boat speeding out in the open sea. I kept thinking that if I fell off the side into the water, no one would ever find me again. There was a thunderstorm nearby as well and bolts of lightning kept bisecting the sky. Quite spectacular. On my first day of work, I got lost in the airport trying to find the Met. Office. It's tucked away on the top floor of terminal 2, and you go thru this winding set of passageways to get there. I remember Masturah (from the admin section) coming out to look for me. The first few months were uneventful. I couldn't start operational work until I'd been trained, and the training consisted of a 1-yr MSc in Weather, Climate & Modelling at the University of Reading in UK. The term started in Oct, so I spent most of my time before that lurking in the office library.
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