JIS News

Jamaicans are being urged to plan ahead for the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which is expected to see the Caribbean facing at least one major hurricane.

Acting Director of the National Meteorological Service, Jeffrey Spooner, said this is based on projections of Colorado State University, which has, for the first time over a long period, indicated that the Caribbean is “in line” for a hit from a major hurricane.

Mr. Spooner was speaking on Wednesday, May 1, at the launch of Hurricane and Disaster Preparedness Month, at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in New Kingston.

The month is being observed under the theme: ‘Plan for Disaster in Advance, Give Yourself a Fighting Chance’. The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1, and ends on November 30.

[RELATED: ODPEM Gearing Up for Active Hurricane Season]

Mr. Spooner pointed out that the university is the only institution that has so far released forecast for this season.

The overall prediction is for an above average hurricane season with 18 named storms (one less than in 2012). This is against a 30 year average of 12, indicating a 50 per cent increase in the projection for this year.

Nine hurricanes are projected, which is one less than 2012. With an average of six using the 30 year mean, this equates to a 50 per cent increase. The projection for major hurricanes (category three and higher) is up by 100 per cent, with four being projected.

“The forecast for this year is for 95 activities with respect to tropical storms…up from 60, which is the average…the number of hurricane days (is) up from 21 average to a projected 40, and nine major hurricane days are projected for this year – up by 57 per cent. So, the projection for this year’s activity is (looking) much more active than normal, and about as active as it was last year,” Mr. Spooner said.

He said the projections “may well be on track,” and that while it is not certain how many of these systems could affect Jamaica, “if we have one, that’s one too many, and therefore we need to be prepared.”

The ODPEM also launched its Twitter “hashtag”, #AskODPEM, as a primary communication tool with social media fan base. This is to facilitate direct responses to concerns and queries during the hurricane season.

By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter