The advisory that Tropical Storm Elsa had upgraded to a Category One Hurricane was based on meteorological standards.
Acting Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services (MET Office), Sabu Best, stated this during a post Hurricane Elsa press briefing and update, from the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), this afternoon.
Mr. Best explained from a meteorological perspective why Elsa was described as a hurricane. He stated: “In our region, which is called Region four, or the North Western Hemisphere, once it is maximum sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or greater for a one-minute average, not gust, not lulls, the average set for one minute, 74 miles per hour or greater, that is hurricane force intensity.
“Now, looking over the data… Hurricane Elsa was a category one hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, and that was backed up based on our observations at the Barbados Meteorological Services from our two-minute average of 75 miles per hour, which is twice the requirement from our region, in terms of classification of a system. Twice the requirement in terms of the time frame one-minute; it only needs to be 74 miles per hour and greater for one minute, we had it double that.”
In addition, the Acting Director noted: “We here in Barbados, we experienced hurricane force winds for about an hour or just under an hour, particularly around the southern half of the island. The maximum wind radii, for Elsa in terms of hurricane force winds was very small, only about 33 kilometres [and] the eye of Elsa passed about roughly 20 miles to the south of Barbados.”
Describing the winds from Elsa as “really devastating”, Mr. Best shared that based on the wind direction, the impact was mostly felt in the south of the island, in parishes such as Christ Church, St. Philip, St. Michael and St. George.
In terms of the rainfall received as the system passed, he said the island received around four to seven inches of rainfall, which was “scattered all over the place in terms of the variations”.
He noted that in some sections, like at the airport or in Charnocks, there was about “five inches of rain”, but in higher elevations, such as in some St. Andrew districts, seven inches of rainfall was actually reported.
“Luckily, the rainfall rates were not that aggressive, so therefore, flash flooding was actually limited at the time or during the time,” the Acting Director added.
Mr. Best also pointed out that the department would continue its review of the passage of Hurricane Elsa over time, and thanked the staff at the MET office, who, prior to and during the passage of Hurricane Elsa, “stuck in there and showed some acts of bravery”.