Weather chief: It only takes one storm

| 11/05/2016 | 7 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): With just three weeks to go before the start of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, local weather officials are urging people in Cayman to avoid complacency following several quiet years and more predictions for low storm activity this year. John Tibbetts, Director General of the Cayman Islands National Weather Service (CINWS), said that despite the near average prediction, it only takes one direct hit to change the local perception of the season. 

“All residents should at this time evaluate their own level of preparedness and create or amend their own hurricane plans. These actions taken early will ease the level of stress associated with an approaching hurricane and the panic of last minute preparations,” he said.

The April 2016 forecast by Phil Klotzbach and William Gray from Colorado State University’s Tropical Cyclone Project was delivered just days before the veteran hurricane forecaster, Gray, died at age 86. But in his last forecast he predicted twelve named storms, with five expected to become hurricanes and two major hurricanes, with winds 111 mph or higher. The number did not include Hurricane Alex, which formed out of an extra-tropical storm in January, only the third hurricane ever recorded in January.

The prediction for average hurricane activity is set against the backdrop of a weakening El Niño likely to transition to either a neutral or La Niña conditions by the peak of the season, Tibbetts said.

“The tropical Atlantic is relatively warm, the far North Atlantic is quite cold, potentially indicative of a negative phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation,” he added, but warned people against the complacency that can arise following such a long period of quiet.

“While the people of the Cayman Islands have in our recent memories been blessed with a few years of low hurricane activity, we cannot afford to take any season for granted. We must remember Hurricane Paloma that devastated Cayman Brac in 2008 and Hurricane Ivan devastation of Grand Cayman in 2004 and the 1932 Hurricane that killed 109 people to realise how truly dangerous these hurricanes can be,” the local weather boss added.

He pointed out that last season may have been considered below average but Tropical Storm Erika killed 30 people and caused over $500 million of damage in Dominica and Hurricane Joaquin caused $120.6 million dollars of damage in the Bahamas, as well as the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro with all souls on board.

Pointing to Cayman’s official preparations for the season, Tibbetts said that the Cayman Islands National Weather Service maintains an “excellent collaborative relationship” with the Miami National Hurricane Center (NHC). “The CINWS and its dedicated staff stand ready to provide public warnings and advisories in the event of any threat from tropical systems, detailing local impacts based on the latest storm predictions issued by the NHC,” he said.

The EU-funded Kearney Gomez Weather Radar is another “high level tool that will give greater detailed information about storms passing near the Cayman Islands”, which will be used alongside a suite of other products to help the qualified forecasters at CINWS to better forecast weather impacts.

“It is also expected that the data collected by the radar be relayed to the NHC for assimilation into the latest model inputs as well as for further research into tropical cyclone,” Tibbetts added. He said that remaining prepared and informed will lead to better personal as well as community decisions, which can be the difference between life and death during a hurricane.

Following Hurricane Alex, the next storm will be Bonnie. The full list of names to be used in the 2016 hurricane season, which can be found on the National Hurricane Center website, are:

Alex
Bonnie
Colin
Danielle
Earl
Fiona
Gaston
Hermine
Ian
Julia
Karl
Lisa
Matthew
Nicole
Otto
Paula
Richard
Shary
Tobias
Virginie
Walter

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Category: Science & Nature, Weather

Comments (7)

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  1. Satirony says:

    These names look good to me. It was always a mistake to name a Hurricane ‘Ivan’. I can’t see Hurricane ‘Ian’ being much of a terror, though ‘Karl’ could be troublesome.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What is going to happen to the Dump and the surrounding area if it takes a direct hit?

  3. Sam Putt Putt says:

    Public Service Pensions Board Hurricane Plan; Don’t have any hurricanes.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hazard Management in Cayman? What hazard have they ever managed. This is a serious question.

  5. Anonymous says:

    cayman ready…come and get some!!!!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Our Hazard Management department is one of those that could be done away with to save money, like the Protocol dept. But they are there to give jobs to the politicians voters.

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