Storm warning

Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw in an address to the nation earlier today.

Bret brings high winds, churns up sea, causes some damage 

Tropical Storm Bret was moving away from Barbados Thursday night after bringing gusty winds and periods of heavy rainfall, but meteorological officials said the island would remain under a tropical storm warning as the outer bands of the storm still had the potential to cause damage.

Schools, government offices and businesses closed early, and Barbadians were advised to be off the roads by 6 p.m. as the storm, forecast to pass to the north of the island, drew nearer.

Among the early damage reported was a tree falling on a house at Dunlow Lane, St Michael.

As weather conditions deteriorated, Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw announced that all non-essential government services would be closed at 2:30 p.m. and public transportation would cease at 5 p.m.

She also advised residents to stay at home if they had no need to be on the road after 6 p.m., and to take all necessary precautions to ensure their safety.

“As the system gets closer, we are expecting a worsening of weather conditions from around 6 p.m. this evening. What does this mean for Barbadians? It means that you can expect sustained winds between 20-35 miles per hour and with gusts reaching storm force.

“This can potentially cause some roof damage to compromised structures, fallen electricity poles, and up to two inches of rain and consequent flooding in some very well-known flood-prone areas. Conditions are expected to continue like this throughout the night as the system passes north of the island,” Bradshaw said.

“Out of an abundance of caution”, schools, which were opened to facilitate examinations, closed at 1 p.m. to allow schoolchildren to be off the roads relatively early. Bradshaw said authorities had taken several precautions over the course of the last 48 hours to reduce flooding in flood-prone areas, particularly in the north.

“And we have also put systems in place to pump off excess water as the need arises. Category 1 Shelters are ready to be put into action as needed. We have also started to haul up the boats from yesterday, and that is continuing throughout the day today.”

On Thursday evening, large and powerful waves churned up by Tropical Storm Bret were causing damage at one of this island’s popular tourist attractions.

In a video making the rounds on social media, towering waves were seen crashing onto and over the cliffside restaurant of the Animal Flower Cave in St Lucy, sending sea spray and water into trees and throughout the property.

“We have had massive waves coming all up and over the cliff and landing on top of the restaurant and breaking trees, and the wind up here is extremely high,” owner Manuel Ward told Barbados TODAY on Thursday evening.

He said several windows, the guide hut and a vendor’s stall were damaged in the onslaught.

Adding that the massive waves had been pounding the property throughout the day, Ward said the situation was getting worse as the system got closer to the island.

The third-generation owner of the facility said it was the first time he had ever seen such large waves in the area.

“There was not anything we could really do to prepare because you cannot do anything with the sea,” Ward said.

In its 8 p.m. advisory, the Barbados Meteorological Services (BMS) indicated that Tropical Storm Bret was located about 35 miles west of Barbados and was forecast to continue moving westward, away from the island, at 16 miles per hour.

“Over the next few hours, as Bret continues to move over the island chain, an increase in sustained wind speeds is expected as bands extending to the southeast of the system moves over Barbados. Therefore, the tropical storm warning remains in effect for Barbados,” it said, noting that maximum sustained winds were near 65 miles per hour.

“As the centre tracks to the west of the island, outer bands of Tropical Storm Bret are expected to generate rainfall accumulations of one to three inches across Barbados. This may result in flash flooding in low-lying districts,” the BMS added.

It said marine conditions would remain moderate to rough in open waters with swells of 2.5 m tonight to 11 feet into early Friday morning.

“Around Barbados, choppy conditions will particularly affect the islands’ eastern and northern coastlines. As a result, a small craft and high surf warning are in effect. Mariners are advised to remain in port,” the advisory added.

Meanwhile, the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) was closed.

Director of Engineering Karen Watts told Barbados TODAY that the operational closure would run from 6 p.m on Thursday until 6 a.m. on Friday.

Meanwhile, with St Lucia was now under a hurricane watch, Acting Prime Minister Bradshaw urged Barbadians to keep the residents of that nation and all other islands that may be in the path of the system in their prayers.

(AH, JB, EJ)

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