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Barbados braces for Tropical Storm Ernesto
BARBADOS is under a Tropical Storm Warning and residents have been told to brace for moderate to heavy rains, with gusty winds and thunderstorms as Tropical Storm Ernesto makes his presence felt here on the island and as it makes its way into the Caribbean Sea.
The system was upgraded to tropical storm status late in the afternoon yesterday after a reconasaissance aircraft investigating the system revealed that it had strengthened into a storm, after being classified as a depression for most of the day.
At 8 p.m. last night, the centre of the storm was located near 13.3 degrees north, 57.4 west or 150 miles (240 km) to the east of Barbados moving west at 22 mph (35 km/h). Winds were near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts and slow strengthening forecast over the next 48 hours.
The system is expected to pass near or over this island early this morning before moving into the Lesser Antilles.
In addition to tropical storm conditions, residents can expect sea swells between nine to twelve feet above normal tide levels.
Accuweather.com had reported earlier yesterday that the potential existed that the system could develop. Meteorologist for that weather service, Andrew Mussoline, stated that if Ernesto forms it could produce winds of 40 mph, a storm surge of 1 to 3 feet and heavy, flooding rains.
“Strong wind shear, an inhibitor of tropical development, will limit the potential for rapid strengthening over the next couple of days. However, the wind shear is expected to weaken during the weekend, where the opportunity for further strengthening is possible,” he said at the time.
Meteorologist Mark Mancuso stressed that timing was important with regard to the development and impact of the storm, “Tropical systems that fail to organise into a tropical storm or hurricane prior to entering the Caribbean, often fail to organise until reaching the western end of the sea.” (DB)