NOAA Preparing For War On Weather In Barbados And Bahamas.

Photo: Public domain. A WC-130J aircraft prepares to fly into the eye of a hurricane.
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Barbados was visited as part of the National Hurricane Centre  and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 2024 Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour with the US Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, which uses WC-130J aircraft to fly right into the eye of hurricanes and find out exactly what is going on and what is going to happen next.

Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams, said it was timely to have a visit by an organisation that assists the Barbados Meteorological Services (BMS) in providing accurate forecast information to the public, as Barbados prepares for the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which is anticipated to be “extremely” active.

Adding that the visit was also informative and instructive, he said: “We recognise the work the team of the National Hurricane Centre continues to do as they prepare themselves to be deployed directly into the core of any significant and threatening tropical storm or hurricane … in order to collect critical data for forecasting their intensity….

“[It] allows them to forecast weather predictions, which in turn allows the Barbados Meteorological Services to improve our forecasting models and better understand what the weather was doing, or could do, and therefore plan adequately for it.”

Director of the NHC, Dr. Michael Brennan, explained that the organisation had partnered with the NOAA Aircraft Operations Centre to visit four countries – Barbados, Bahamas, St. Lucia, and Puerto Rico, as part of an outreach and preparedness mission ahead of the upcoming hurricane season.

“This is the time to prepare; know your risk and know what the risk is of the various hurricane hazards where you live. Storm surge, heavy rainfall, flooding, and wind. Rainfall flooding is one of the most dangerous hazards in the Caribbean, in particular in areas of topography, mountainous areas, and that has very little to do with how strong a storm is. It doesn’t take a Category Three, Four, or Five hurricane to produce heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding on these islands,” Dr. Brennan stated.

He noted that the NHC was “very proud and very glad” to partner with the BMS to bring the awareness tour to Barbados.

Also touring the aircraft were the acting Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services (BMS), Sabu Best; BMS’ Deputy Director, Brian Murray; Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency, Captain Robert Harewood; and the US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Roger Nyhus.

Students and campers from across Barbados, including those from the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology students, UWI MET Society, Eagles Academy Preparatory School, and Codrington School and Arms Open Wide Camp, were able to tour the Hurricane Hunter Aircraft.

The aircraft also visited New Providence in the Bahamas.

Mr. Jeffrey Simmons, Acting Director of the Bahamas Department of Meteorology, said while modern satellites have improved the ability of meteorologists to detect cyclones before they form, only aircraft are able to measure the interior barometric pressure of a hurricane and provide accurate wind speed data — information needed to accurately predict hurricane development and movement.

“We thank you for including us in the list of countries for the Tour this year so that Bahamians can stop in and see what this aircraft really looks like. As meteorologists we depend on the work you do in getting out there and actually getting into the middle of those hurricanes and getting the information/data to us,” Director Simmons said.

Sources: Barbados GIS, Bahamas GIS.
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