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: : Antecedents of Hydrometeorology in Panama : :
Meteorological Measurements
Old Instruments

The meteorological activities in the Panama territory started with the construction of the Panama Railroad. In 1861 the first rain gauge was installed in the Taboga Island, wich operated until 1967.

Between the years of 1862 through 1874, the Panama Railroad Company made rain measurements in Colon City.

From 1881 to 1889, the French Canal Company started rain and temperature measurements in Colon, Balboa and the Island of Naos; temperature and wind speed measurements in Colon, Panama and the provinces. They also observed the water temperature and the tides in the Atlantic an the Pacific, and the atmospheric pressure in Colon.

In 1905, its created the Bureau of Meteorology and River Commission in the Isthmian Canal Comisión, with the purpose of doing the measurements of the hydrometeorologic data, for the construction and operation of the Panama Canal, responsability of the United States Government.

The Panamamian government through the Agricultural Section of Panama, installed in the provinces several rain gauges between the years of 1926 through 1930.

Between 1929 and 1933 five rain gauges were installed in the upstream of the Madden Dam and in the years 1940 and 1941, 9 rain gauges were added in the rivers Gatun, Ciri and Trinidad.

The meteorological activity in the national territory was limited by the development of the meteorological services operated by the government of the United States and by the banana and sugar companies.

The first weather stations, for a national network were installed in 1955 by the Interamerican Cooperative Service of Economic Foment (SCIFE), cooperative agency between the Economical Foment Institute (IFE) and the U.S.AID (dash 4).

Hydrological Measurements

The early measurements began in Panama with the construction of the Interoceanic Canal. The first french company between 1881 and 1889 installed the first staff gauges and seating capacities were executed in the Chagres river. The second french company established the Chagres river in Alhajuela. The early seating capacities with turnstiles were executed in 1908.

The Isthmian Canal Company continued since 1904 with the french's measurements, widening the network in the Panama Canal basin until december 31st 1999. From this date forward, when the Panama Canal is reverted to the Panamanian state by the aplication of the TORRIJOS-CARTER treaties, these stations are operated, modernized and expanded by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

In 1955 the Interamerican Cooperative Service of Economic Foment (SCIFE), installed the first stations in the National Hydrologic Network and in 1961 the newly created Institute of Hydraulic Resources and Electrification (IRHE), assumed the responsability of the Hydrologic and Meteorologic Networks management. With the advise of the Latinamerican Economic Comission (CEPAL) and the Special Fund of the United Nations Program for Development (FE-PNUD), in 1967 was achieved the approval of the Expansion Project and Improvement of the Hydrometeorological Services of the Central American Isthmus known as Central American Hydrometeorological Project, (PHCA).

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) was designated as the Implementing Agency. Also, the Regional Hydraulic Resources Comitee (RHRC) was designated as the Intergovernment Opposing Organism . For monitoring the project by Panama the job was given to IRHE.

For the valid period of PHCA (1967-1972), IRHE installed 265 meteorological and 52 hydrometric stations in Panama, that measured meteorological parameters of pressure, temperature, extreme temperature, humidity, precipitation (quantity and intensity), wind (speed and direction), evaporation, soil temperature, insolation and solar radiation. The hydrometric stations measured the rivers and lakes leves continuosly.

Hydrometeorological Evolution

ETESA In the first phase of the PHCA (1967-1972) the biggest efforts were focused in the installation of the climatological and hydrological station networks and in the personnel training to college and technical levels by giving specialization scholarships in Hydrology and Meteorology.

The resulting experience of that first PHCA stage permitted not only to identify structural problems and needs inside the basic objective of the PHCA, but also emphasized the need to reinforce and extend the PNUD and OMM financial and technical assistance in the meteorological field specifically. In the case of Panama, the project PAN/72/011 was approved with the objective of establishing the bases for the creation of a National Meteorological Service (NMS), under the responsability of the expert meteorologist Luis M. De la Canal.

The project was oriented towards the creation of the Service in the Livestock and Farming Ministry, however, because of the lack of economical resources, the government decided that IRHE should assume the National Hydrometeorological Service functions, and that was expressed in the Resolution N 372-72 of December 4th, 1972.

In the national order, Panama created a National Comitee for the Project Coordination, and by Executive Decree N 11 of January 8th, 1971, was designated the Hydrometeorological Service Chief in IRHE as a permanent agent in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

On may 8th, 1975, by Executive Decree N 188, Panama acknowledges the CRRH as a permanent organism, with faculties to plan, execute and coordinate the water and weather tasks in the Central American Isthmus countries, and the Chief of the Hydrometeorological Department of IRHE gets designated as the panamanian agent before the CRRH.

On October 23rd, 1975 the permanent panamanian agent for the OMM and Chief of the Hydrological Department of IRHE, supported the ratification of the Agreement between the OMM and Panama before the National Corregimientos Representant Assembly, by which Law N 21 of October 23rd, 1975 approved in all of its portions the ratification document.

In 1997 ETESA is created by Law N 6 of February 3rd, 1997, as a result of the privatization of the electric sector that was, at the moment, in hands of IRHE.

This Law assigned ETESA tje Hydrometeorological functions and inherited the National Hydrometeorological network, with 165 meteorological and 72 hydrometric stations .

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