Meteorology, the study of the atmosphere especially as it relates to the weather, makes it possible to predict or forecast the weather to a certain extent.

Until the decade of the 40’s in the 20th century, meteorological matters in Jamaica were coordinated by a “Government Meteorologist”, whose chief tasks were the collection and publication of data such as rainfall, temperature, wind direction, wind speed and sea level pressure.

During the 40’s, a formal meteorological service was developed in Jamaica as an adjunct of the British Government’s Air Ministry. This was during the 2nd World War and meteorological activities were expanded to include synoptic weather forecasting, particularly for aviation and marine interests.
The early 50’s saw meteorological activities coming under a centralized Caribbean Meteorological Service, a colonial meteorological organization formed in 1951 and later taken over by the West Indies Federal Government with headquarters in Trinidad.

Following the demise of the West Indies Federation, meteorological activities in Jamaica were taken over by the Government of Jamaica. The Government of Jamaica therefore decides the scope, provides the staff and equipment and meets the cost of the meteorological facilities established internally to serve its own interests.

On gaining Independence in 1962, Jamaica became an individual member of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.


The Meteorological Division is comprised of three distinct Branches, all overseen by the Director of Meteorological Services and managed by separate Branch Heads. These are the Administration and Support Services Branch, the Weather Branch and the Climate Branch.

The Administration and Support Services Branch provides efficient and effective administration in the areas of personnel, office management, accounting services, a registry and a library. These all function out of the Meteorological Headquarters, which is currently situated at 65¾ Half-Way-Tree Road in Saint Andrew, Jamaica.

The Weather Branch is concerned with the observation and forecasting of weather conditions over and around the island. It consists of a Radar Section that closely monitors and reports on rainfall occurrence within a range of nearly 500 kilometres; an Upper-Air Station (the Caribbean Rawinsonde Network Section) that monitors the characteristics of the upper atmosphere; a Synoptic Sub-Station operating within the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay that makes observations and meteorological reports for use in international air navigation; and a National Meteorological Centre at the Norman Manley International Airport that provides weather forecasting services for general dissemination.

This Section, in particular, maintains a continuous Hurricane Watch during the hurricane season and is responsible for the issuance of severe weather warnings. Data for forecasts are obtained locally from observation points at the surface, as well as from the radar station, and internationally through telecommunication links with regional and international centres and via stationary and polar orbiting satellites.

Additionally, technicians working within the Weather Branch’s Instruments and Equipment Section are responsible for maintaining all meteorological and other related machinery that reside in the various Sections.

Based at the Meteorological Headquarters, the Climate Branch is responsible for maintaining a current database of the climate of Jamaica and for the utilization of this data in informing productive sectors of the country. It consists of a Data Acquisition Section that sets up and maintains an islandwide network of rainfall and climatological stations; a Data Processing Section that gathers, archives and analyses the climatological data with a view to monitoring and assessing the climate of the island; and an Applied Meteorology Section that processes the needs of clients, which include crop water requirements, design criteria for hydrologists and engineers, and climatological information for resolving weather related legal and insurance issues.