Tuesday May 28, 2013 – The Department of Disaster Management is actively getting ready for what has been predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to be a busy hurricane season and is encouraging residents in the entire Territory to do the same.
On May 23, NOAA issued its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook and their forecast of an active or extremely active season this year is in keeping with those issued by the Colorado State University and other forecasting agencies. NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season outlook indicated that there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes, including 3 to 6 major hurricanes.
The hurricane season officially begins in three days and will run for six months until November 30. In preparation the Department of Disaster Management is fully engaged with its annual inspections and upgrading of warning and notification systems, while departments such as the Environmental Health Division, Public Works Department and Virgin Islands Shipping Registry are finalising inspections of land and marine shelters to ensure that they are ready for use should they be required.
“During the month of June a number of important activities will be taking place specifically focused on getting the entire population ready. These include community meetings and training, school assessments and plan development, capacity building for emergency responders as well as the launch of our annual hurricane preparedness campaign that will utilise all sources of media to inform and educate the public,” the Director, Disaster Management Sharleen DaBreo said,.
Ms. DaBreo emphasised the need for everyone to take responsibility for preparing themselves for the impact of any natural hazard such as storm surge, high winds, rough seas or significant flooding of vulnerable communities and locations throughout the Territory. She particularly called on persons who are new to the Territory to obtain the necessary information and to be ready for any possible impact.
The DDM will officially launch its Hurricane Preparedness Campaign on Monday, June 3 which is designed to help residents prepare. Persons will be able to obtain information from various sources in both English and Spanish.
Agreements are in place with all radio and television stations to carry public service announcements and other educational programmes on hurricane preparedness. Persons wishing to volunteer with DDM are reminded that they can register online at www.bviddm.com. For persons who prefer social media channels they can join the Department on Facebook or subscribe to its website to receive all updates and advisories.
NOAA has indicated that three significant climatic factors are expected to contribute to the increased activity planned for this hurricane season. These factors include 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. These conditions are all favorable for strong hurricane development.
A number of new approaches have been implemented by NOAA in time for this year’s hurricane season. These include improvements to forecast models, data gathering, and communication procedures. A new supercomputer is available to run an upgraded model that provides significantly enhanced depiction of storm structure and improved storm intensity forecast guidance.
The Doppler radar data will be transmitted in real time from the Hurricane Hunter Aircraft to assist in better analysing rapidly evolving storm conditions, and hurricane warnings will now remain in effect longer as storms like Hurricane Sandy have become post-tropical. This flexibility allows forecasters to provide a continuous flow of forecast and warning information for evolving or continuing threats.
Persons wishing obtain additional information on the hurricane predictions or preparedness information can contact the DDM at 468-4200.