Saturday 31 October, 2020

Barbadians warned to prepare for 'really intense' hurricane season

Acting director of the Barbados Meteorological Services,  Sabu Best gives a report of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season.

Acting director of the Barbados Meteorological Services, Sabu Best gives a report of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season.

The 2020 hurricane season has the potential to be "catastrophic" if it exceeds predictions.

Acting Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services (BMS), Sabu Best is warning citizens to anticipate an "above average" hurricane season within the next six months while the island continues to grapple with the impact of the global health pandemic - COVID-19.

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Addressing the media during the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season press conference hosted by the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Best reported that the Colorado State has forecasted that there will be 16 storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes of Category 3 and higher during the June to November season. 

"These forecasts are indicative of a really intense hurricane season coming up. This is a forecast and it can easily be more than this and if it is more than this it will be a catastrophic year," Best remarked. 

In June, the BMS will be rolling out their response and preparation plan and introduce impact-based forecasting on their website. With impact-based forecasting, the BMS will be able to disseminate accurate and easily understood forecast information to the public. The public will be alerted of weather, wind, marine dust haze, heat index, and severe thunderstorm levels with a warning-risk level matrix. 

With two named storms - Arthur and Bertha, already experienced in May, the Acting Director urged citizens not to rest on their laurels and to take the necessary precautions. He stressed that one devastating hit was sufficient to cause enough destruction. 

"You don’t have to have many storms or hurricanes for it to be catastrophic, you just need that one, just one of strategic location and path that will cause significant damage and destruction to services in this entire hemisphere," said Best. 

He added: 

“We are looking at an above-average hurricane season. It is not the first time and with the impacts of climate change globally it is not going to be the last, but what is important is that we have to be prepared. It doesn’t take five or four major hurricanes, it only takes one and it can set us back years. We can lose lives and loved ones. It can be significant and one way we can help to mitigate that is not to blow away the hurricane or storm but we have to be prepared." 

Director of the DEM, Kerry Hinds also stated that given the complexity of operating in a COVID-19 environment the health and safety of emergency responders and the public was a priority. 

"We acknowledge that this year there is the added complexity that the COVID-19 environment brings, the implications [it has] for our emergency management mechanisms and operations. We are ever more mindful of the health safety and well being of our emergency responders and the public. I would like to encourage residents and communities to be prepared to take into consideration the various considerations of the COVID-19 environment. You can still affect your preparedness actions but you can do it safely," she said. 

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