Cayman gears up for 2017 hurricane season

| 02/05/2017 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Experts are calling for a below average hurricane season in the Atlantic this year when it comes to storms making landfall in our area — but it only takes one to wreak havoc. With one month to go before the official start of the 2017 season, officials in the Cayman Islands are beginning preparations this week with a practice run of the hurricane exercises to ensure that everyone and everything is ready for the possibility of a dangerous storm. New research from the UK suggests that the hurricane belt is shifting north, but that doesn’t mean Cayman and the region are any safer.

With cooler water and less influence from El Nino, forecasters from Colorado State University predict eleven storms, including four hurricanes, two of which could be major hurricanes, for the 2017 season. But scientific research is also indicating that the hurricane belt, of which Cayman has been at the centre since it was first identified, is shifting, creating not just seasonal but more long-term changes to storm tracks. 

Climate change and shifting weather patterns are seeing hurricanes gradually move northwards from the western Caribbean towards North America. A study led by Durham University in the UK, which was published at the end of last year, found the change was down to the expansion of atmospheric circulation belts driven by increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

This means that people living in New York and other major cities along the Northeast coast of the US are facing an increased threat from severe storms. But the scientists don’t believe the storms will necessarily diminish here as the density area for storms heads north.

Dr James Baldini, one of the authors, said in a release about the research that as hurricane tracks move away from the western Caribbean, rising sea surface temperatures could promote the development of cyclonic storms.

“Consequently, tropical cyclone activity across the western Caribbean may remain essentially stable over the current century, which has important implications for water availability in this region,” he said. “Increased sea surface temperatures also provide extra energy, potentially fuelling larger storms.”

Given the increasing unpredictability of global climate and lessons learned from Hurricanes Paloma in 2008 and Ivan in 2004, preparation is essential to help keep us safe.

The National Emergency Operations Centre includes 16 different subcommittees with a range of responsibilities, such as debris management, emergency shelters and volunteer agencies, and they will all be put through their paces this week. Hazard Management Cayman Islands said an important part of the simulation exercise is to conduct a communications test of email, text messaging and radio communication with each subcommittee and other responders and key individuals. The exercise will encourage the committees to look at their own emergency plans in response to the scenarios they are faced with.

Meanwhile, public works and the NRA will be going through their hurricane systems and installing shutters to protect over 100 government structures, including 16 hurricane shelters. Standby generators in shelters and key government buildings will be checked and started, along with cistern water level checks. On completion of the securing of shelters and buildings, Inspectors will carry out detailed inspections on the shelters/buildings to certify that the facilities are adequately secured. Local residents are also reminded to review their own preparation plans.

As a minimum, the general public are advised to give thought to the following:

  • What materials will be used to cover windows and glass doors in the event of a hurricane? Usually plywood or purpose-built aluminium shutters.
  • Where will these materials be obtained, and how will they be installed? It is often too late to consider this once a hurricane warning has been issued as these materials are in very short supply on the island in the event of a hurricane.
  • Is your home a safe place to stay in the event of a hurricane? If it is situated on or near the sea, or it is of poor construction, then it is not.
  • If not, where will you stay? Due to the limited number of hurricane shelter spaces, you should make every effort to stay in the safe home of a friend or relative or workplace. Staying in a hurricane shelter should be considered a last resort, as shelters will be crowded and uncomfortable.

See the 2o17 forecast from Colorado State here

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Category: Science & Nature, Weather

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “With cooler water and less influence from El Nino” this is incorrect from the report

  2. Unison says:

    I remember when the UDP was in, it was suggested that these islands needed special shelters in the districts for high seas and hurricanes …

    That idea was sqashed by certain folks that believed it would be a waste of tax payers monies.

    As far as I know, the role of government is to protect its citizens from terror … and our major terror here is a hurricane! How can folk here be so stupid in not supporting such a project! We are a low island and the story of the 1932 hurricane mentioned the seas rising inland a number of feet. It was so bad in the Brac as well that many had to leave their homes and flee to the bluff. Grand Cayman must have been worse being it is flat.

    Are we going to wait until a real killer storm hits us???

    • Just Sayin' says:

      Now we need 19 shelters.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you mean “quashed”. Trouble is, numerous local sources routinely misuse “squashed” for “quashed”. Look it up and hopefully never err again.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So even less work than the near minus total they have normally for our Hazard Management Department. Do they still have a public relations person in post? Never hear a thing from this do nothing Department.

  4. Sharkey says:

    Another climate change prediction . The UK research suggests that the hurricane belt is shifted to the north . All my life the hurricane mostly started of the Africa coast and took it’s own course depending on the atmosphere above that would make it go in a different direction. Don’t listen to that research , get ready and be prepared incase one decides to come our way .

  5. Anonymous says:

    When will Cayman take this threat seriously? A powerful enough hurrycane could blow our earth away from the sun. anyone that was here for ivan knows how strong that wind was.

  6. Al Catraz says:

    “A study led by Durham University in the UK, which was published at the end of last year, found the change was down to the expansion of atmospheric circulation belts driven by increasing carbon dioxide emissions.”

    Ha! What do climate scientist know about climate? Nothing.

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