Met office urges caution as high winds affect region

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Antigua and Barbuda – along with much of the Caribbean – has been warned to expect some blustery weather conditions this weekend. Strong and gusty winds were forecast to move across most of the region from yesterday, Friday, until tomorrow, Sunday. The Deputy Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Office, Dale Destin, told OBSERVER Media that conditions will deteriorate both on land and off shore. As a result, he explained, some activities on land will become dangerous, while the seas will be very hazardous for small craft and their operators.

Referring to the high winds, Destin said “It will peak at different times and in different areas . . . some of the western Caribbean islands will see the peak winds at an earlier time, maybe a day ahead, and the southern Caribbean islands, maybe a day later.” The wave heights generated by the ramped-up winds will reach 9-12 feet, requiring small craft to remain in or near to their ports. Additionally, Destin said, “The winds are also going to be high enough to blow around loose and light objects, so those should be secured; things like patio furniture, garbage cans and the like.” The on-land perils posed by the high winds include “difficult driving or maneuvering of high-lift . . . vehicles; so caution needs to be taken when driving on a whole, but [especially] when driving vehicles like buses that during the strong winds could [pose] a challenge.”

When he spoke with OBSERVER on Friday, Destin noted that “Already we are seeing winds gusting to as high as 40mph across parts of Antigua and Barbuda; certainly not your garden variety winds for this time of the year outside of the hurricane season.” He stressed that the high winds are “in no way related to a tropical cyclone; no way related to a hurricane; no way related to a tropical storm; no way related to a tropical depression.”

Instead, he explained, it was caused by a sharp difference in atmospheric pressure between one area and the next, with wind generated by the air mass moving from the areas of high pressure to those of lower pressure. Some outdoor activities may need to be postponed or adjusted for the conditions, which will also bring some rain. “It will cause the lower atmosphere to become unsettled, and as a result we will see these brief and heavy passing downpours; and in those downpours we will see those wind gusts of up to 40mph.”

Persons who will be doing work at elevations, such as repairing roofs, are being cautioned to consider this “a no-no” and it would be best to postpone such tasks, as the weather conditions will render them both uncomfortable and dangerous.

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