With weather officials anticipating that the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season will be average or near-normal, Barbadians are nevertheless being warned not to become complacent regarding their preparedness.
This caution has come from Director (Ag) of Barbados Meteorological Service, Hampden Lovell, who stressed that even though this year’s forecast may seem mild in comparison with previous ones, it only took one major storm to cause serious damage in the eastern Caribbean.
"You don’t want people to focus on numbers, whether it will be higher than normal or otherwise. The fact is that any tropical wave coming across the Atlantic is a potential tropical storm or hurricane. So, whether or not we are expecting a milder than usual year, we at the Met Office will treat each tropical wave as though it is a potential hazard. So, the detection of those systems is very much at work. We will not sit back on our laurels because the forecast is for fewer hurricanes this year," he said.
The weather official explained that the reason for the expected decrease in hurricane activity was the El Ni??o weather phenomenon.
"El Ni??o implies there would be less of those tropical waves developing into storms while, on the other hand, La Ni??a, like what we had last year, would provide conditions for active and productive tropical waves. Our analysis is also showing that the sea surface temperatures are cooler at this time, so all of this will lend to less hurricane activity across the Atlantic," Mr. Lovell pointed out
The Acting Director added that the emergence of El Ni??o could also lead to decreased rainfall for the year, a scenario which could have an impact on the agricultural sector.
"El Ni??o reduces the amount of tropical waves that develop and those waves are the systems that give us our rainfall, so this suggests that we could also be in for below average rainfall for this year. So, that is something we are going to have to look at," Mr. Lovell said.
In his updated forecast of June 4, Dr. William Gray said he expected the season to produce 13 named storms, with five of these becoming hurricanes and two becoming major hurricanes.
The 2012 season runs from June 1 until November 30.