With the advent of the internet, many amateur forecasters have access to a wealth of information at their fingertips.
However, local weather officials are encouraging persons to be responsible when using and reporting such information.
This admonition has come from Senior Meteorologist (Ag) at the Barbados Meteorological Service, Clairmonte Williams, who said the increase in persons who have access to the worldwide web had placed additional responsibility on the department to ensure any relevant information on weather systems was disseminated in a timely and accurate manner.
Speaking recently to the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), he said even though information was readily available online, it still required trained personnel to examine the data and ascertain the likely impact of any weather system.
"It gives us an even greater responsibility because of the information that is out there. The challenge is that there are persons who don’t quite know how to use the information, but they have access to it nevertheless.
"So, our job becomes even more critical because we now have to counteract some of the negative interpretations that are given. For example, persons may go to a website and see a mass of cloud cover over the island, and they interpret that to mean inclement weather – a whole lot of rain, thunder, lightning and so on. But, this may not necessarily be the case," he pointed out.
Mr. Williams added that while Barbadians could also access advisories online, for example, from the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida, that information then had to be analysed and interpreted specifically for Barbados and the individual islands of the Eastern Caribbean.
"Those advisories cover a large area. We at the Met Office still have to take that information and refine it, in terms of the effect that the particular system might have on Barbados. The National Hurricane Centre will not do that. This responsibility lies with the local Met Office. We take that information and add value to it as it relates to Barbados. This also applies to the sister islands of St. Vincent and Dominica, for which the Barbados Meteorological Services also have forecasting responsibility," the Senior Meteorologist (Ag) said.