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Story Highlights

  • Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, Evan Thompson, says the horrifying experiences of some Caribbean islands in 2017, is a stark reminder of the importance of public education to prepare for the hurricane season.
  • Mr. Thompson, who was speaking at the Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour (CHAT), at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James, on April 27, said with the memories of 2017 “still fresh in our collective minds,” there is no telling what the 2018 hurricane season, which starts on June 1, will be like.
  • “This CHAT comes on the heels of a very active 2017 season, when 17 tropical storms developed,” Mr. Thompson reminded.

Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, Evan Thompson, says the horrifying experiences of some Caribbean islands in 2017, is a stark reminder of the importance of public education to prepare for the hurricane season.

Mr. Thompson, who was speaking at the Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour (CHAT), at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James, on April 27, said with the memories of 2017 “still fresh in our collective minds,” there is no telling what the 2018 hurricane season, which starts on June 1, will be like.

“This CHAT comes on the heels of a very active 2017 season, when 17 tropical storms developed,” Mr. Thompson reminded.

“Luckily for Jamaica, 2017 bore no significant direct impact from tropical cyclone activity. However, the gruesome experiences of our Caribbean brothers and sisters in Dominica, St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands, Barbuda, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Turks and Caicos Islands and in the United States are stark reminders of the increasing relevance of public education and awareness programmes like these,” he said.

Mr. Thompson said this is why Jamaicans must continue to pay strict attention to forecasts and up to the minute “accurate information” that is coming “straight from our partners” at the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida.

As part of the CHAT by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a team from the National Hurricane Centre and the Hurricane Hunter Association visited the island last Friday (April 27).

The tour formed part of the public awareness, education and outreach campaign implemented by NOAA, in partnership with the United States Air Force Reserves. This initiative is usually undertaken once per year in different regions of the world.

This year, the tour was concentrated in the Caribbean and stops were made in Mexico, Panama, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Jamaica was the only English speaking country that was a part of the 2018 CHAT.

“This year’s campaign is geared towards improving the preparedness and resilience of communities within the Caribbean to tropical storms and hurricanes,” Mr. Thompson noted.

For his part, Mayor of Montego Bay, His Worship Homer Davis, said it is very important to have these kinds of public awareness programmes, noting that Jamaica, like all its Caribbean neighbours, remains “susceptible to the effects of climate change and the ravages of hurricanes.”

“The effects of hurricanes Gilbert, Dean, Ivan and others are still fresh in our minds,” he noted.

In the meantime, Acting Political Officer, United States Embassy in Kingston, Bion Bliss, said the partnership between the United States and Jamaica in terms of disaster preparedness has never been stronger.

“With the 2018 hurricane season fast approaching, this event underscores the importance of advance preparation for the season and other coming storms. I really want to take this opportunity also to commend the Government of Jamaica as it continues to be proactive in preparing for the full range of disasters which include earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, when all the time maintaining a strong and effective response,” he said.

Mr. Bliss also had kind words for the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), saying it exemplifies perhaps “the strongest agency of its kind in CARICOM.”

“The Embassy, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as the Department of Defence, has had a long history of supporting Jamaica’s disaster

preparedness, working primarily through ODPEM, through which we have a full time consultant. Through the years we have provided funding, supplies, training as well for humanitarian groups, such as the Jamaican Red Cross,” he said.