BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Prime Minister Mia Mottley Tuesday gave the all-clear for the re-opening of the island as a slightly weakened Tropical Storm Dorian made its way through the Lesser Antilles on Monday night.
“I would like to say how blessed we are, but I would like us, as we give thanks to also hope that our brothers and sisters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia, who are currently now experiencing the conditions of this tropical storm that they be kept safe, that there be minimal damage as with the case with Barbados,” Mottley told a news conference, flanked by her Cabinet ministers and members of the security forces and other emergency officials.
She told Barbadians that they should recognise “there will be other countries in the region that may be affected by this storm.
“What I will say to Barbadians and I said it on Sunday that this is early in the (Hurricane) season and we have to be conscious that we are not yet at November 30, which is the end of hurricane season. Indeed we still have three full months to go,” she said.
“If ever there was a dry run in preparing ourselves this could effectively be considered the dry run and some may even say by the absence of the volume of rain we had, but in addition to that it allowed us to mobilise and to focus on some areas, and I am satisfied that that initial work done on Sunday…made a significant difference to our state of readiness,” Mottley said.
Acting Tourism Minister Kirk Humphrey said that the island’s lone international airport – The Grantley Adamas International Airport – would re-open at 7.00 (am) local time) and that there were no immediate reports of any damge to the tourism infrastructure. Barbados relies heavily on the sector for its foreign exchange and revenue.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in its 5.00 am (local time) bulleting, said that Dorian was moving through the Windward Islands – Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines- with tropical-storm-force winds.
The storm is now located 30 miles south-east of St. Lucia with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour (mph).
A Tropical Storm Warning and Hurricane Watch has been issued for Puerto Rico, while the government of the Dominican Republic has issued a Hurricane Watch from Isla Saona to Samana.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Puerto Rico and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Dominica, Grenada and its dependencies, Saba and St. Eustatius, Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Punta Palenque.
NHC said that the storm is moving towards the west-northwest near 13 mph and this motion is expected to continue through tonight, followed by a turn towards the northwest on Wednesday.
“On the forecast track, the center of Dorian is expected to move across the Windward Islands and
into the eastern Caribbean Sea during the next several hours. Dorian is forecast to pass near or south of Puerto Rico on Wednesday, move near or over eastern Hispaniola Wednesday night, and
move north of Hispaniola on Thursday.”
It said while the maximum sustained winds remain near 50 mph with higher gusts, slow strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Dorian is forecast to be near hurricane strength when it moves close to Puerto Rico and eastern Hispaniola.
Mottley said that while Barbados was grateful for the storm information from various official quarters, the island should now consider significantly improving its ability to get its own information.
“In a very real sense we need to improve how we plan for these events from the point of view that we wait now for the National Hurricane Centre to be able to send a hurricane plane, hunter, into the system.
“The ones that went into this system went for research purposes of their own and therefore the data that we expect to come was not there. We are satisfied that we reached the point where we have to take responsibility for our own affairs.
“In a very real sense this is our new normal in a world of climate change. This is something that we are going to have to get accustomed to because the intensity of storms and the regularity of storms and hurricanes will significantly be increased and therefore we have to be able to get more accurate data.
“If you notice by the time the hurricane is coming close to the United States they can give you all kinds of data…we are not a developed country in that sense but we believe working with our partner countries in the region, especially in the eastern and southern Caribbean we are going to need to find ways of being able to commission for our own selves,” she said, adding that it was important fo the region to be able to have such information.