COVID-19 slowed repair of Doppler radar in Abaco
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A weather system expected to bring heavy downpour and possible flooding across the central and northern Bahamas over the weekend, has a 70 percent chance of developing into a tropical storm.
However, Department of Meteorology officials said that develop will not occur until after the system has already passed over the country.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Acting Director of Meteorology Jeffrey Simmons said the system was expected to move over Andros today, before traveling eastward over north Andros, New Providence, Eleuthera and South Abaco.
“And once it moves off the coast of Abaco it will be at the east and north of us in the Atlantic, there is — the hurricane center — a 70 percent chance for it to become a tropical storm,” Simmons said.
“We have been discussing it. We understand that people, as soon as they hear tropical storm, that’s what basically registers with them right.
“But we are trying to make it clear that the low will pass over us, but there is no chance of development during that time period — Friday Saturday.
“By Sunday into Monday once it moves away from us that’s when it [could develop] because it would be in deeper and warmed waters, and that it when the possibility will exist to become a tropical storm.”
A severe thunderstorm warning was in effect for Eluethera and its surrounding waters from 5:50 pm today until 7:50pm.
In an advisory, the department said radar, lightning detector and satellite imagery depicted “organized lines of thunderstorms along with moderate to heavy rainfall associated with a broad area low pressure over the straits of Florida, moving eastwards towards and across the warning and watch areas”.
“Some of these thunderstorms will be severe at times and may cause strong gusty winds, dangerous lightning, heavy downpours, hail and possible waterspout or tornadic activity,” read the warning.
“Localized flooding is also possible during these events.
Residents, particularly those in the Family Islands, remain weary of developing weather systems, eight months after Hurricane Dorian decimated portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama, leaving thousands displaced and killing at least 70 people.
As it relates to monitoring, Simmons said three of the five Doppler radars were operational and the damaged radar in Abaco as a result of Dorian was expected to be repaired well before the beginning of the hurricane season.
He said all supplies to repair the radar were on-island.
Simmons said: “We were supposed to have Abaco back online by now, but COVID slowed us down just as we were about to go and deal with it. We had to get some parts in for it.”
According to AccuWeather meteorologists last week, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have 14 to 20 tropical storms, with additions to the number of storms becoming hurricanes increasing to from seven to 11. Four to six could become major hurricanes.
Meteorologists have previously projected 14 to 18 tropical storms with seven to nine of them becoming hurricanes, and two to four strengthening into major hurricanes.
The Bahamas continues to recover from Hurricane Dorian last September.
The record Category 5 storm is estimated to have caused $3.4 billion in total losses.
The country’s economy largely remains at a standstill amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Named storms to form in the Atlantic will be called Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly and Edouard, among others.