Barbadians are bracing themselves for Tropical Storm Ernesto, which is expected to pass over the island in the wee hours of tomorrow.
But Barbados’ premier calypso competition has already felt the impact with the MQI Banks LIME Pic-O De-Crop, previously slated for Kensington Oval having to be shifted to the Widley Gymnasium for the first time in its history.
Anxious Bajans, with the damage caused by October 2010’s Tropical Storm Tomas still fresh in their minds, rushed to supermarkets and hardware stores to stock up on hurricane supplies, including canned foods, candles, flash lights and batteries, water containers, and security lights.
At 5 this evening Acting Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services Hampden Lovell told the country was under a tropical storm warning, as he announced that what was previously a tropical depression had been upgraded to a tropical storm, which was expected to affect Barbados within “another 12 to 18 hours”
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions will to affect the island within that stated time period.
Lovell said reconasaissance aircraft investigating the tropical depression found it’s strength was now at the more powerful tropical storm level.
“At 2 p.m the centre of Tropical Storm Ernesto was located near latitude 12.8 north…longitude 55.6 west or about 270 miles … 435 kilometres to east of Barbados. Ernesto is moving toward the west at 23 miles per hour … 37 kilometres per hour and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.
“Maximum sustained winds are near 40 miles per hour … 65 kilometres per hour … with higher gusts. Some slow strengthening is forecasted over the next 24 to 48 hours. On this present track the centre system present track the centre of Ernesto is expected to pass near or over Barbados early Friday morning … and move across the central Lesser Antilles late Friday evening.”
“As a result it is now expected that tropical storm force winds along with some moderate to heavy showers and thunderstorms will begin to affect the island early tomorrow morning.” The official also said there would be “above-normal swells will result by as much as nine to 12 feet above normal tide levels”.
The next advisory on the weather system was scheduled to be issued at 8 o’clock tonight.
With the news that the island would be in for worse weather than originally thought, organisers of the calypso finals shifted to plan B, and as the Bacchannal Time Versus The Best Of Crop-Over event got ready to welcome patrons, officials, including event producer Adisa Andwele of the NCF, journeyed to the Wildey Gymnasium to get their preparatons underway.
In a release issued by the NCF’s Acting Corporate Communications Specialist, Andre Hoyte, this evening, they noted that after a meeting at the Department of Emergency Management with the Police, Fire, DEM and NCF officials the decision was made to relocate the event. The show will start at the scheduled time of 8.p.m.
“The decision is based on the expected volume of rain from Tropical Storm Ernesto and has been made to protect the integrity of the competition with due consideration for the safety of patrons and to ensure that the required preparations are put in place,” he said.
“It is expected that the other events in this final weekend of Crop-Over will likely proceed as usual. Foreday Mornin’ Jam will still start from the BTI car park in Lower Bay Street, Carlisle Car Park and BIDC at 1.30 am and 1 a.m. respectively, while Bridgetown Market, Cohobblopot and Grand Kadooment are expected to remain unaffected as the weather system is expected to have passed the island by that time.”
Hoyte advised vendors “confirmed” for Kensington Oval to contact the NCF about the change of location and arrangements for their stalls at the Gymnasium at 417-6620. He also assured patrons all valid tickets would be honoured at the Gymnasium for this show.
Laff-It-Off’s show for tonight was also cancelled and Old Hype Versus New Hype, slated for Kensington was postponed.
With the sea expected to be more treacherous than usual, Deputy Chief Fisheries Officer of the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Joyce Leslie advised boat owners “to take immediate action in securing their vessels” and urged owners of small craft to remove their vessels from the water urgently, as storm force sea conditions are approaching Barbados.
Retailers and wholesalers also welcomed the usual increased number of shoppers undertaking their last minute preparations for the storm.
Shopsmart’s Operations Manager Mark Niles, told Barbados TODAY via telephone that the company’s four locations reporting increased customers, with torch lights, batteries, water and biscuits the biggest sellers.
At Super Centre Warrens General Manager, Keith Yarde said while people were buying the regular, bottled water, tin foods, biscuits, evaporated milk, batteries, plastic containers and first aid items, they had been doing so prior to Ernesto.