Residents, visitors and the public are urged to remain in a state of readiness as the 2019 Hurricane Season approaches.
Forecasters have published their April predictions for this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season which indicates that there is the potential for five to seven hurricanes to develop with two possibly becoming major hurricanes. The forecasts also call for 12 to 15 tropical storm formations. These forecasts indicate a near-normal or slightly above normal number of storms for the season, which runs June 1 to November 30.
Director, at the Department for Disaster Management Sharleen DaBreo is calling on residents to begin their preparations early and to remain in a state of readiness throughout the Hurricane Season.
Ms. DaBreo said, “As a Government we have the responsibility to get ready but we rely on individuals to be prepared as our plans can only be effective if there is a high level of individual attention paid to getting organised. Our systems and structures are still recovering from the impacts of 2017 and so we do not need a catastrophic impact to set us back. Our readiness plan for 2019 is in place and we will be working to ensure that we have all major activities well advanced before the peak of the hurricane season.”
Many forecasts have been issued and these will be updated monthly as it gets closer to the start of the season and as more data on the influence of the El Niño is captured. This phenomena increases wind shear and causes changes in wind speed or direction which inhibits formation of storms and hurricanes. The El Niño is currently in a weak state of formation which is one of the key reasons why there is still much uncertainty about what we will experience this hurricane season.
Ms. DaBreo urged the public to continue to closely monitor other predictions to be published, as early forecasts of hurricane seasons can change before it peaks in August and September.
She also reminded residents that flooding has been a major risk factor for the Virgin Islands.
“We have seen the devastation that floods have caused to the Territory. It does not take a storm or hurricane to generate the rainfall amounts that are needed to cause flash flooding throughout the Islands. Our state of readiness must always remain high,” she cautioned.
The Department of Disaster Management has already begun disseminating information through the various local media platforms to ensure that persons can access preparedness messages. The department is also offering preparedness sessions to schools, businesses and critical agencies. Community preparedness initiatives will soon be launched to allow for closer engagement with residents.
Persons wishing to obtain support from the department in this regard can contact the staff at 468 4200 or via email at [email protected]. A number of social media platforms are also available where the department can be reached.