Weather officials here are pleading with Barbadians to be careful with the information they share about weather systems and their possible effects on the island.
Two messages have been circulating on social media, one suggesting that Barbados and the rest of the region would be hit by Hurricane Irma, while the other is believed to have been sent by someone purporting to be an official attending a Department of Emergency Management meeting, stating that the weather system, which is now Hurricane Irma, was making an uncharacteristic turn southward and on that trajectory it would directly impact the island.
Acting Senior Meteorologist Sabu Best in dismissing those claims advised that no matter how enthusiastic people may be, they should avoid spreading misinformation.
“Those messages are incorrect. It is spreading false information and it also probably raising person’s level of concern when it needs not be. I am disappointed too. I have heard them and I feel the persons who did them should have exercised a little more care and responsibility about those things,” Best told Barbados TODAY.
At 5 p.m. today the centre of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 18.8 north, longitude 39.1 west. Irma was moving toward the west near 13 miles per hour and a turn toward the west-southwest was expected tomorrow.
Maximum sustained winds were near 120 miles per hour with higher gusts.
Hurricane force winds were said to extend outward up to 25 miles from the centre and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles.
Best said there was some uncertainty about the projected path of the storm because the two main models used to track its progress, the Global Forecast System (GFS) and the European Center for Medium range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), were at odds regarding the system’s projected path.
“Yesterday [Thursday], GFS took the system well north of the island chain while the ECMWF kind of centred through Guadeloupe so to affect the Leeward. So, you had a cone of uncertainty. Today you are seeing something different where the cone of uncertainty has narrowed and both systems are coming into agreement with each other and showing a little more of a northward track.
“But having said all of that, in all scenarios none of the model guidance, and when we examine the dynamical field around the whole Atlantic, there is no suggestion from anything that this system would actually have a direct impact on this island,” the Met officer stressed, as he cautioned that there will be some indirect impacts.
“Because of its presence well to the north of us we will probably experience really light winds and it will be fairly warm. After it passes through north of the island chain, we will get some of the south-eastern flow behind the system. That’s the time we will get some thunderstorms behind the system . . . . But it is not what you expect if you are in a hurricane itself,” Best explained.