Black Immigrant Daily News
Barbados has the capacity to detect, and receive early notice of, an impending tsunami event to assist with the timely evacuation of coastal areas under threat.
This was disclosed by Deputy Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services (BMS), Brian Murray, as he addressed the launch of the Coastal Hazards and Earthquake Smart Month 2023 at the Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve.
“Water level sensors which sense pronounced changes in the level of the ocean are placed at strategic locations across the island. This equipment is very critical…,” he said.
Murray gave the assurance that the BMS had early warning systems for tsunamis and other hydrometeorological hazards. These also include alerts from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre; The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre; the BMS Insight app and the CAP.CAP app, both of which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
In addition, the Deputy Director said the BMS was in the process of refining its Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS), to allow for earlier warning in the event of a hazard impact.
These early warning systems include equipment such as the Doppler radar, automatic weather stations, satellite imagery and numerical weather models.
Murray cautioned that the threat of a tsunami, generated by undersea earthquakes in the Eastern Caribbean or in the Atlantic Ocean, could not be ignored.
Barbados was affected by tsunamis in 1755 and 1761 from earthquakes in Lisbon, Portugal; in 1767 from an earthquake in Martinique; in 1902 from a volcanic eruption from La Soufriere Volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines; in 1939 from a sub-marine volcanic eruption of Kick’em Jenny, and in 1969 from an earthquake in Guadeloupe.
On those occasions, tsunami wave run-ups ranged from 0.4 metres to 1.8 metres, which were categorised as “relatively minor”.
However, Coastal Planner at the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Fabian Hinds, gave the assurance that Government, in collaboration with its strategic partners, was working towards improving Barbados’ resilience to coastal hazards.
He noted that there are plans by the CZMU and the Department of Emergency Management, who co-chairs the Technical Standing Committee on Coastal Hazards (TSCCH), to implement the Tsunami Ready Recognition Programme in Barbados.
“This ultimately seeks to develop and enhance the preparedness and response capabilities of coastal communities to the potential threat of tsunamis,” he said, noting it was important to know the natural warning signs to save lives.
In 2020, the communities from Shermans, St Lucy to Mullins, St Peter received official Tsunami Ready recognition status. Efforts are now under way to achieve the recognition for St James Central in the Porters to Holders Hill communities, and in Christ Church West from Garrison to Rendezvous.
“The intention is to work towards making all of Barbados’ coastlines tsunami ready,” Hinds said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director at the DEM, Captain Robert Harewood, explained that the month of activities formed part of Barbados’ Comprehensive Disaster Management strategy.
He noted that the theme: All Aboard with Coastal Resilience was chosen to highlight the work of the TSCCH in making the island resilient through the inclusion of all sectors of society.