This warning has come from director of Meteorological Services, Chester Layne, who
said that this island was in the hurricane belt and anything could happen.
"The reality that is now becoming quite evident is that there are periods of intense hurricane activity and there are periods of weak hurricane activity... . Since 1995 there has been some indication that we have entered one of the other phases of intense activity, where over the last ten years or so we have been averaging 14 storms a year and this is well above the historical average of ten.
"So we have to be always prepared. It is true that the probability of a storm impacting a particular area 20 miles wide or 14 miles wide is low, but you have to look at the nature of the impact. It can be extremely high so we cannot take any chances," Layne stressed.
According to him, at one stage Janet was a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, but within 12 hours she intensified to a Category 3 hurricane of 120 miles per hour. When Hurricane Janet wreaked havoc here on September 22, 1955, she was still a Category 3 hurricane. Initially, she was projected to pass 50 miles to the north of this island, but during the night of September 21,
she made a dip and took a west-south westerly track and the centre passed about 15 to 20 miles south of Barbados.
"I know of no other tropical cyclone that actually was located to the north of Barbados' position and ended up to the south of us. So to that extent you can say that Janet took an unusual track. Most of the other systems that may have threatened us since then actually remained south of us for most of the time," Layne explained.
He pointed out that Janet went on to become one of the major storms
of the century and on reaching the western Caribbean, she was packing maximum sustained winds of 175 miles per hour, making her one of the most intense storms on record.
"When Janet left Barbados, she remained within the deep south and traversed the southern Caribbean sea and ended up in the south western Gulf of Mexico, passing over the Yucatan Peninsula and headed towards the other parts of Mexico City. So it was a fairly long-lived system," he said.
Hurricane Janet left a trail of destruction wherever she passed. In Barbados, 35 people died, over 8 000 homes were destroyed and 20 000 were left homeless. Layne admitted that he had never seen a dollar value placed on the destruction caused by the hurricane, but expressed the view that it could have cost a few million dollars.
He noted: "Today there is much more to destroy. There are more people living in the path of the hurricane, there are more people in Barbados, especially along the
south and west coasts that Janet impacted severely ... . Were Barbados to experience
the core of a hurricane, the damage would be fairly significant." (GIS)