KINGSTON — With the start of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season just a month away, Jamaicans are being urged to be on guard as forecasts are the six-month period will be very active.
The urging has come from Acting Director of the National Meteorological Service (Met Service), Jeffrey Spooner, who addressed the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management’s (ODPEM) hurricane preparedness month press conference at the agency's Haining Road head office last week.
According to Mr. Spooner, projections from the Atmospheric Science Department of Colorado State University (CSU) in the United States, as at April 6, indicate that some 16 named storms are expected to develop from June 1 to November 30, which is three less than last year. Of the number, 12 are likely to become hurricanes, and five major hurricanes.
Mr. Spooner said that activity usually peaks between August and September, and urged that Jamaicans be prepared. “Since this is predicted to be another active season, with the forecast for tropical cyclone activities for around 80 out of 183 days that we have in that six-month period, that is about 44 per cent of the time that we are expecting hurricane activities during this year’s season. Our suggestion is that the standard preparedness (procedures) must, therefore, be maintained, and for everybody to be on the alert throughout this period,” he advised.
He pointed out that “it only takes one system to cause hardship and loss of lives, and it does not necessarily require a hurricane to do so; a tropical storm can (also) do so. Even systems associated with a tropical storm can do so; (tropical storm) Nicole is fresh in all our memories. Therefore, we need to be prepared, be alert for whatever happens this year."
Mr. Spooner informed that the Colorado University’s 2011 forecast is expected to be updated on June 1, adding that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will also do its projection later this month, of which the Met Service will provide an update.
Meanwhile, the Acting Director advised that 21 names have been selected for cyclones expected to develop this year. These are: Arlene, Bert, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklyn, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Phillipe, Rena, Shawn, Tami, Vince, and Whitney.
He advised that two names from last year’s roster, Igor and Tomas, have been retired, consequent on the damage those systems caused.
ODPEM has, over the past five years, designated May as hurricane preparedness month, in an effort to heighten the nation’s awareness of the need to implement mitigation measures.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter