By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
WITH Grand Bahama bracing for hurricane conditions on Wednesday, residents of West End and East End are advised to evacuate as soon as possible as coastal flooding between three to six feet is expected.
The island should begin to experience tropical storm conditions by Tuesday evening.
At a press briefing held by the Grand Disaster Consultative Committee on Monday, Chief Meteorologist for Northern Bahamas Shavon Moxey-Bonimy said that Subtropical Storm Nicole is expected to strengthen into a category one hurricane and pass directly over the island by tomorrow evening.
“The centre is expected to be directly over Grand Bahama as a category one on Wednesday evening. We have to be preparing for a hurricane. There is no if, ands, or buts about that - no need to sugar coat it. We are going to have to be preparing for a hurricane. We are hoping for the best and that it will remain a low-end hurricane, but either way it is going to be a hurricane.”
Ms Bonimy said the storm is moving on a northwest track as projected – like as Hurricane Jeanne in 2004.
“If you can remember in 2004, it is mimicking Hurricane Jeanne 100 percent - it is like the exact same track. One of the things that is going to be of concern is the continuous onshore north to south wind flow on the north coast of Grand Bahama.”
In terms of the wind flow, Ms Bonimy said it will be coming onshore from the northeast for at least 54 hours, resulting in a pile up of water along the north coast.
“Do not panic, we anticipate storm surge between three to five feet, and in some instances up to four to six feet. But most of that should be confined to the immediate initial inside coast of Grand Bahama as the system moves from east to west,” she explained.
Ms Bonimy said Grand Bahama could expect the strongest tropical storm force winds associated with Nicole by 6pm Tuesday evening and at sunrise on Thursday 7am.
In West End, she said the north side will be impacted and battered by sea water causing coastal flooding.
“So, if you know that your area is prone to flooding along the coast, if you can, move inland or to a shelter because we do anticipate coastal flooding along the north shore areas,” Ms Bonimy said.
“However, any southern shift in the track will result in more coastal flooding as it relates to wave and storm surge for West End.
“You can prepare for evacuation because the fact that the storm will be a hurricane, the onshore flow the wind coming ashore is going to be for such a long duration and will pile water along that north coast road in West End,” she stated.
Residents in East End should also evacuate as coastal flooding is expected there too, Ms Bonimy said.
“In eastern Grand Bahama, we anticipate coastal flooding in a range of three to five feet. With king tide and onshore flow, there will be susceptibility to flooding in the road. We would tell communities to evacuate as soon as possible. All tropical storm preparations should have been completed by Monday.”
Ms Bonimy indicated that the minimum threshold for movement would be around noon today.
“After that, we start to go downhill, so you still have leeway to get out,” she said.
As for rainfall, she said it is projected that most of the rainfall should be offshore, with a total of two to four inches of rainfall expected between today and Thursday evening.
Waves height at sea is expected to between 15 to 17 ft in addition to sea swells, which could generate anywhere between 25 to 30 ft in open waters, Ms Bonimy said.
Dorothea Gomez, officer in charge of the Department of Social Services, said shelters will open at noon today.
She said that persons using shelters should take food supplies and medication with them.
Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey said residents must prepare for the storm.
“We need all hands on deck as we face the impending storm and likely impact,” she said. “We do not welcome the storm, but we know that God is with us and will keep us.”
Ms Moxey said residents must take every storm seriously and make necessary precautions.
“Regardless of how serious the system is expected to be, you need to prepare for the worst-case scenario, including the risk of coast flooding, heavy winds, rain, rip currents and beach erosion,” she said, adding that Grand Bahama is resilient and will get through this storm.
Hardware stores were beginning to experience a rush of shoppers yesterday.
Lynne Fraino, marketing manager of Kelly’s Ltd, reported that shoppers were rushing into the store to stock up on hurricane supplies.
“Our store is fully stocked with all the essentials, and we encourage residents of Grand Bahama to continue to quickly get prepared,” she said.
Dolly Madison, Third Dimension, and water depots were also busy as residents rushed out for supplies.