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Above Average Hurricane Season Predicted

Local News 03 Apr, 2020 Follow News

Hurricane Ivan aftermath



With the territory - and the world - fully preoccupied with with the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic, the Cayman Islands Weather Service (CIWS) has issued a timely reminder of another challenge around the corner.

With the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season just two months away, the CIWS reminds that the projections from Colorado State University for this year indicate an above average season.

They predict 16 named storms with eight developing into hurricanes and four of them becoming major storms.

The other major hurricane monitoring agency, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will release its prediction in May.

According to the CIWS, there are usually only minor differences between the two forecasts.

Pointing out that the predictions are not just for the Cayman Islands but for the entire Atlantic Ocean basin, the CIWS is advising residents “be careful of your perception of the season.”

It quotes hurricane experts at Colorado State University as “anticipating an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.”

The CIWS is also reminding Cayman residents to be always prepared for unexpected developments during the hurricane season.

It says that while the hurricane season runs from June 1st through to November 30th there have been several instances of storms developing outside the normal pattern.

Therefore, residents should not lay down their guard, the agency cautions.

“These dates are based upon long term monthly numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes. Despite these long term numbers it should be noted that a number of systems do in fact form outside the normal hurricane season.

“For example Tropical Storm Alberto formed in May 2018 and Tropical Storm Arlene formed in April 2017.”

According to the CIWS, “there are usually low numbers of hurricanes in the first half of the season leading the public to possibly question the accuracy of the forecast.”

“The peak of the Hurricane Season is considered to be around September 11th and is based on long term numbers. The second half of the season tends to produce very powerful hurricanes some of which form in the western Caribbean.”

The CIWS says there are three main problems with these late season storms forming in the western Caribbean. Those are possible short warning times, erratic paths and potential of rapid intensification.

Pointing to examples of such storms it refers to Hurricane Mitch 1998, Hurricane Michelle 2001 and Hurricane Paloma 2009.

“Residents not aware of the late season climatology of the region may be caught preparing for a weak storm but get caught when a major storm hits. As a result residents should always be prepared for the impact of a major storm especially in the latter part of the season,” the local weather agency explains.

Cayman Islands National Weather Service (CIWS) and Hazards Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) are the two agencies that work closely together as part of a National Early Warning System.

The main roles of the CIWS during the hurricane season is in monitoring the formation and progress of systems; warning the public when these systems become a threat; and provide guidance on the impacts of major storms.

Hazards Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) has overall responsibility for the national Comprehensive Disaster Management programme, including preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery.

HMCI is also responsible for the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), which is activated to direct and coordinate the response to national threats.

Its other role is maintaining the National Hazard Management plans for threats such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

The year so far has already been “quite a year for the Cayman Islands in terms of natural disasters,” the CIWS notes.

There was the 7.7 magnitude earthquake on January 28th 2020, the early March dump fire and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Advising residents to start planning for the hurricane season, the agency urges: “Please be reminded that regardless of what has happened it does not decrease the possibility of the Cayman Islands being impacted by hurricanes.”

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