Batten down!

Barbadians urged to prepare for storm

Barbadians were today battening down for the possible onslaught of a tropical storm.

This as forecasters at the Barbados Meteorological Services continued to track the course of a developing tropical storm.

Up to 8 p.m., the system, which was located about 250 miles to the east of Barbados and was moving westward to west-northwestward at 15 to 20 miles per hour, was still categorized as a tropical wave.

However, the island’s Director of Met Services Hampden Lovell cautioned during a news conference at the Department of Emergency Management’s (DEM) Warrens, St Michael office this afternoon that the island was on the verge of issuing a storm warning as the system was expected to develop into a full-blown storm.

Disaster emergency stakeholders updating the country on the impending tropical storm during a press conference this afternoon at the office of the Department of Emergency Management [DEM], Warrens, St Michael.  Second from left is Acting DEM Director Kerry Hinds, flanked by Director of Meteorological Services Hampden Lovell (third from left), Executive Director of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Lisa Gale (extreme left) and Marketing and Corporate Communications Manager with the state-owned Transport Board, Lynda Holder.

As the forecasters awaited final word from hurricane hunters, Lovell said it was already being anticipated that Tropical Storm Matthew could form as early as tonight.

“We are going to treat this as though we were under a warning, and hence we are going to make all the necessary precautions that we would normally make with a warning or watch,” the Director of Met Services told reporters.

Barbadians were therefore told to prepare for up to six inches of rain, even though local met officials said the associated winds might not be as bad as previously projected.

“Most of the stronger winds are now north of the centre [of the system]. So if it keeps on that track, the west-north-west track, it will take most of the strong winds north of Barbados. However, of interest would be the rainfall impact on the island. Now you know with these systems you can get as much as four to six inches of rainfall. That is where our concern is,” Lovell explained.

Meanwhile, Acting DEM Director Kerry Hinds announced that all Government-owned schools, including tertiary institutions, would be closed tomorrow until further notice.

In preparation for the storm, businesses were also being advised to shut down operations by 6 p.m. today to allow their employees to get off the roads in a timely manner.

Hinds also revealed that all 20 Category 1 emergency shelters will open this evening and that all buses operated by the state-run Transport Board will leave their various terminals, including Oistins, at 8 p.m. today on their final journey for today.

With regards to the domestic water supply, the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) has denied reports circulating on social media of an island wide shutdown.

However, the BWA’s Corporate Communications Specialist Joyann Haigh told Barbados TODAY consumers should remain on alert for any eventuality, especially if the Barbados Light & Power shuts down its service. Dr Dexter James, chief executive officer of the island’s main health care institution –– the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) –– told Barbados TODAY the facility was ready to handle any medical emergency in accordance with disaster protocol.

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