Lifeguards at beaches across Barbados are on alert for possible sea swells of two to 2.5 metres, and will be posting warning flags at beaches likely to be affected along the island’s west coast.

This was confirmed by Head of the Department of Lifeguard Services at the National Conservation Commission, Dave Bascombe, today as the Barbados Meteorological Office issued warnings for small craft operators and sea bathers, and urged them to exercise caution.

Beginning tomorrow, warning flags are expected to be posted on beaches, particularly those at Heywoods, Needhams Point, Graves End, Browne’s Beach, Brandons, Batts Rock, Holetown, Folkestone, Royal Pavilion, Glitter Bay and Alleyne’s Bay from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

In addition, lifeguards will conduct walking patrols to monitor the water and advise sea bathers based on conditions observed. Mr. Bascombe is also urging beach goers to listen and adhere to the advice of lifeguards as it relates to the likely swells.

Technical Officer at the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Marvin Boyce, also reiterated Mr. Bascombe message and urge sea bathers to comply with any instruction given by the lifeguards.

He explained that the pending swells usually developed as a result of low pressure systems off the North Atlantic such as Canada and North America, generating a "long period wave".

"A long period wave can start in the north and affect the whole Caribbean. For Barbados it affects our west coast which is our sheltered coast," he pointed out.

Long period waves have a lot more energy than the average ones, and move faster, creating more water movement. In addition, the longer the period, the larger the wave will be when it breaks.

Mr. Boyce described the pending swells as "northern maritime winter swells" which may cause severe beach erosion due to the movement of water from the north to the south. "Those were formed from a cyclonic system from the system out there [Tropical Storm Sandy], so we can’t technically call it a winter swell," he said.


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