Barbadians were bracing tonight for the arrival of tropical storm Kirk which forecasters say is expected to pass some 50 miles north of the island between early tomorrow morning and tomorrow afternoon.
A final decision on a national shutdown is to be made after the Barbados Meteorological Services issues its 11.00 pm bulletin, Acting Prime Minister Dale Marshall told journalists following a stakeholders meeting at Government Headquarters this evening. Schools, many of which become storm shelters, are closed tomorrow.
“The system is just under 260 miles east of Barbados and is expected to impact us with heavy rainfall between eight in the morning and one o’clock in the afternoon. Based on that, we have taken the decision to close all schools tomorrow. Any decision as to a national shutdown will be taken tonight after the 11 o’clock weather bulletin,” Acting Prime Minister Marshall told Barbados TODAY tonight.
He said if a shutdown is determined, this would mean the closure of the private and public sectors, leaving only essential services open.
“We have looked at the country’s state of readiness. We are in the best position possible at this time, given our resources. People are being urged to take all necessary precautions for themselves. We have also announced two additional category one hurricane shelters. St Andrew has not had a category one hurricane shelter in a number of years, and the DaCosta Edwards School in Belleplaine will be open as a category one shelter,” he said.
The public library at the Eric Holder Complex in St Joseph – which can accommodate some 50 people – will also be available as a category one emergency shelter, Marshall, the area’s MP, said.
The Scotland District in St Andrew, which is prone to land slippage in heavy rains, will also get special attention, he added.
“Provision is being made to pre-position food and general supplies in the Scotland District in the event that the weather causes roads to be washed away and people can’t get in or out,” he assured.
Tropical storm Kirk, packing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, is forecast to dump upwards of four inches of rain on the island between tomorrow and Friday even as wind speeds start to increase across Barbados later tonight.
While warning residents, particularly those living in low-lying areas to prepare for flash-flooding, Deputy Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services Clairmonte Williams said Kirk will be accompanied by gusty winds, pockets of moderate to heavy showers, periods of rain and scattered thunderstorms.
At 8 p.m., tropical storm Kirk was centred near 12.7 north, 56.1 west or about 230 miles east of Barbados.
“Tropical force winds extend outward up to 115 miles to the northeast and 90 miles to the southeast of the centre. Little change in strength is forecast until Kirk crosses the Lesser Antilles late tomorrow,” the senior weather official told journalists.
The system continues to move towards the west near 18 miles per hour, with a west to west-north-westward motion expected over the next 12 to 24 hours.
“On this track, the centre of Kirk is expected to pass about 50 miles to the north of Barbados between tomorrow morning [around 8 a.m.] and tomorrow afternoon [2 p.m.]. Some flash-flooding is likely in low-lying areas, thus, residents are urged to be on the alert and take all necessary precautions,” Williams cautioned.
The pending passage of the severe weather system has forced the closure of all public schools and other educational institutions tomorrow and the postponement of a number of events.
The disaster emergency agencies have also been placed on alert as Director of the Department of Emergency Management Kerry Hinds urged residents to complete last-minute preparations.
“That would include ensuring that you have your emergency supplies to meet your families’ needs during the event. This would include ensuring that you have your first aid supplies, your medication, your sanitary and hygiene supplies, your food and water for at least three to five days, ensuring that around your surroundings are clean…and have your important documents in a safe and secure place,” the emergency manager said.
Hinds also urged pet owners to have their supplies ready for them as well.
“Please take note of the shelters that are available for public use just in case you have to utilize those shelters. We would have placed that in the media. GIS [Government Information Service] would have been sending those information tips out. I would want people to stay safe, take the necessary precautions, especially for persons living in low-lying areas,” Hinds said.
Barbadians have also been asked to keep monitoring the electronic media for further updates.
Throughout the day, fishing boat owners were tying up their vessels at the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex on the Prince Alice Highway in light of the latest forecast which cautioned that tropical storm Kirk will be accompanied by large easterly to south-easterly waves of 3.5 to 4.5 metres.
The Met Office deputy warned that these adverse sea conditions are expected to persist into the weekend when northerly swells being generated by the remnants of post-tropical cyclone Leslie in the north-central Atlantic, spread southwards across the Lesser Antilles.
The coastlines of Barbados will be particularly vulnerable at this time, as the existence of large waves and dangerous rip-tides are expected to create unsafe conditions for small craft operators and fishermen, Williams said.
Sea bathers and other users of the sea are also advised to stay out of the water. “Thus, a high-surf advisory and small-craft warning is now in effect until 6 a.m. Monday, October 1,” added the met official.