Saturday, April 20, 2024

Be prepared this hurricane season


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Today is the official start of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season.
And arguably, the most reliable forecasters in the world are predicting an extremely active period as the era of heightened activity for Atlantic cyclones continues.
Barbadians should therefore take note and make the necessary preparations to protect our loved ones and property the best way we can. It’s important to remember too, that tropical storms and hurricanes are not limited to impacting us only when they make a direct hit. Strong winds, torrential rain and flooding often inundate places affected by the outer bands associated with these systems even though the storm is hundreds of miles away from our shores.
This year, in particular, both renowned forecasters Dr William Gray and Philip J. Klotzbach, of Colorado State University (CSU), and the prestigious Maryland-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are very concerned with what the atmospheric conditions are suggesting.
CSU anticipates “enhanced activity” due to warm tropical Atlantic waters and the lack of an El Niño. As such, they are forecasting the probability of a major hurricane landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean of 140 per cent of the long-term average. They are also forecasting the net total Atlantic activity to be 175 per cent of the average.
NOAA, a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere, has forecast a 70 per cent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which seven to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). These are NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook [and] not a hurricane landfall forecast.
Both CSU and NOAA forecasts are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
Three climate factors that strongly control Atlantic hurricane activity are expected to come together to produce an active or extremely active 2013 hurricane season.
These are:
• a continuation of the atmospheric climate pattern which includes a strong West African monsoon that is responsible for the ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995;
• warmer than average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea;
• and El Niño is not expected to develop and suppress hurricane formation.
Since hurricane seasons are very difficult to predict, the CSU and NOAA will refine their forecasts this month. Our Department for Emergency Management (DEM) will hold a Press briefing on Monday, when a review of the forecasts will be done.
Whether the forecasts worsen or the probability of storms reduces, what matters is that Barbadians still prepare ourselves for the worst as we are in the path these weather systems take at this time of year, and it only takes one of them striking us to cause catastrophic damage.
Though many of us believe God is a Bajan, and will take care of us, He advises in Proverbs 27:12: A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
Wise Barbadians’ perspective should therefore be similar to the motto of the Scout Movement: Be prepared!

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