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Whilst talking about the 13 June natural disaster as a guest of the talk show, First Studio,

the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Davit Usupashvili, stated: "We must study our homeland more carefully in order to have the ability for instant forecasting. For this, we need to rehabilitate the structures of the systems which have been destroyed – not in the past two years and not in the nine years which are so often criticised, but even earlier. As of today, the head of the Hydro-Meteorological Service says that if about 30 years ago we had 400 weather stations, keeping track of the precipitation, now we have just 40."

FactCheck

took interest in the number of weather stations in Georgia and addressed the National Environment Agency for  information.

Table 1:

 Number of Weather Stations and Outposts from 1904 to 2015

Year 1904 1940 1990 2000 2005 2012 2013 2014 2015
Weather Station 32 160 105 58 48 20 22 26 29
Weather Outpost 40 45 68 27 24 45 47 49 51

According to the information of the National Environment Agency, the greatest number of weather stations in Georgia (160) was in 1940. The trend of decrease started from 1950 (145). A total of 105 were operating in Georgia in 1990 whilst in the following years their number showed a trend of a sharp decrease. The number of weather stations has increased slightly since 2012 (from 20 to 29). As for weather outposts, the largest number was recorded in 1960 (100), dropping steadily in the following years (1970 – 78, 2005 – 24) although increasing somewhat from 2010 and reaching 51 by 2015.

According to the information of the National Environment Agency, weather stations keep track of the weather using the following parameters: atmospheric pressure, temperature of air and soil and humidity, as well as the amount of precipitation, speed and direction of the wind and etc. Weather outposts measure air temperature and the amount of precipitation only.

According to the Head of the Hydro-Meteorological Department of Georgia, Ramaz Chitanava, "the meteorological service has a 170 year history in Georgia. A geophysical observatory existed in Tbilisi already in the 19th

century. A massive reduction of weather stations and outposts started from the 1990s which was due to the collapse of the Soviet Union – the field of meteorology was financed from Moscow and as the funding stopped, infrastructure was destroyed as well. The process of rehabilitating the old weather stations and opening new started from the second half of the 2000s, with the help of various donor organization and countries (World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Climate Adaptation Fund, USA, Canada, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland). However, in 2006, due to the reduction of funding, the Agency was forced to reduce the number of employees drastically. The situation has improved for the past several years. However, the number of weather stations and outposts operating today is still not enough for the proper functioning of the field. For example, only one weather station is operating in Tbilisi which is definitely not enough for a comprehensive study of the city."

The Head of the Hydro-Meteorological Department also said that "Prior to the 13 June 2015 natural disaster, the Agency issued a warning about possible heavy precipitation, hailstorms and strengthened wind on the certain territories of eastern Georgia as well as about the formation of downpours on several rivers. The Agency is not equipped with high technical ability radar which is why it failed to determine the epicentre of the expected disaster. In the case of owning the radar, it would be possible to determine the possible centre of the disaster one or two hours before in happened. It should also be noted that before the disaster, the National Environment Agency did not have even a single outpost in Vere Ravine. Only after the 13-14 June natural disaster did they install two units of automatic sediment-calculators and one unit of water level calculator."

We asked the former Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, Goga Khachidze, to comment on the issue. According to his statement, all kind of infrastructure was destroyed in Georgia in the 1990s. Number of weather stations reduced drastically as well. The rehabilitation of the field started later, at the end of 2000s. According to the information of Mr Khachidze, not a single weather station was abolished during the period of him being the Minister (2008-2012) and 22 systems for automatically measuring the meteorological parameters were acquired.

According to the information found on the internet, new weather stations were opened in Kutaisi, Dariali Ravine, Kaspi and Tetritskaro municipality, after the new government assumed office.

Conclusion The history of weather stations in Georgia starts from the 19th

century. The active development of the field started in 30s of the past century and reached its peak in the period of the Second World War. The biggest number of weather stations in Georgia was reported in 1940. This number reduced drastically since 1990s.

Weather stations and outposts observe the weather. If we sum the numbers of stations and outposts, there was 205 in 1940, 173 in 1990, 85 in 2000, 65 in 2012 and 80 in 2015. Despite the fact that the numbers of weather stations stated by Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia are incorrect, the context of his statement that the trend of reduction of the weather stations started in the 1990s and the situation is still bad today, is true.

Hence, Davit Usupashvili’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

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