Barbadians have been told to brace themselves for another above average hurricane season.

Word of this has come from Acting Senior Meteorologist at the Barbados Met Service, Clairmonte Williams, who said it was expected that this year’s season would bring 16 named systems, nine of which are expected to become hurricanes and five of these are forecast to reach major hurricane status.

The Met official made these comments today at a press conference to mark the beginning of the 2011 hurricane season at the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) headquarters in Warrens.

Explaining that last year’s forecast was for 18 named systems, Mr. Williams pointed out that, in fact, we (Barbados) experienced 19, and although 10 hurricanes were predicted, 12 affected the island with five being of major hurricane strength.

"An average season, in terms of hurricane tropical storm activity, would be a season with approximately 10 named [or] tropical storms; five of which are likely to reach hurricane strength and two or three of them are likely to become major hurricanes. That would be an average season," he clarified.

However, the Met Official pointed out that with projections for another above average season on the horizon, Barbadians should focus their energy on being in a state of readiness, as we are all "susceptible when a hurricane strikes."

Reiterating Mr. Williams call for vigilance, Head of the DEM, Judy Thomas said the severe impact from Tropical Storm Tomas exposed Barbadians vulnerability, and, therefore, other mitigating factors had to be assessed.

"The kind of devastation that we saw from Tomas must awaken us to the fact that our vulnerability to severe weather and tropical storms is very high.?? The chattel housing infrastructure we have come to realise is extremely weak, it is extremely vulnerable.?? We realised that we were up against a lot of falling trees and debris, movement of debris and the mad rush of Barbadians to carry out last minute preparations to get themselves ready," the Director observed.

While emphasising that Barbados was nowhere ready for a category four or five hurricane, the Head noted that we must still be equipped for at least a category two.

"Right now, I want to put the country on notice and that is from today, we are in [the] hurricane season.?? We are expecting an above average season, and this country is vulnerable to tropical storms.?? [Therefore], we must make sure that our house and contents are insured.?? We must do the necessary as we are all in this together," she stressed.


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