Severe weather triggers flooding, landslides and blocked roads
The low pressure system responsible for the unstable weather conditions across the island over the last few days could develop into a tropical storm or depression by Sunday.
This is according to the Meteorological Service, Jamaica, which yesterday afternoon upgraded the flash flood watch to a flash flood warning for low-lying and flood-prone areas of St Mary, Portland, St Thomas, Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon, and Manchester. A flash flood watch for low-lying and flood-prone areas of Hanover, St James, Trelawny, St Ann, St Elizabeth, and Westmoreland is to continue until 5 p.m. today.
“The condition is not changing rapidly,” duty forecaster at the Met Service, Carolyn Peck, told The Gleaner yesterday.
“It has a 70 per cent chance of becoming a system during the next 48 hours,” she said.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) said it received calls from the public reporting emergency situations and landslides yesterday in the Eight Miles, Bull Bay area of St Thomas.
The emergency body says the calls were for evacuation assistance. There were also reports of flooding in Kellits and other sections of Clarendon.
“The reports are logged and the ODPEM remains in readiness and continues to encourage the public to prepare for disasters and emergency situations that arise. ODPEM coordinates with the relevant ministry, department or agency to respond to and recover from disasters,” said information officer, Joyce Reynolds Robinson.
Meanwhile, if the low pressure system becomes a tropical storm, it will be the 27th named storm of the year, and will be given the name Zeta.
Persistent rainfall produced by the system has caused heavy flooding and landslides in some areas, and has toppled trees and rocks in St Andrew and St Thomas.
The National Works Agency (NWA) said yesterday that it was clearing roadways, on a priority basis, in order to reopen these corridors to vehicular traffic following rain-related landslides and flooding.
NWA Communication and Customer Services Manager, Stephen Shaw, said yesterday that the agency’s efforts have been focused on the Shooters Hill and Bull Bay areas of east rural St Andrew as the locations were earlier affected by severe flooding and washed down silt.
The NWA warned motorists that driving conditions along several roadways could become an issue.
“The NWA is urging motorists to remain vigilant whilst using the nation’s roadways at this time, even where there are no evident signs of severe flooding or landslides, as driving conditions may deteriorate rapidly due to the continued rainfall,” the agency said.