Message by Hon. Premier - 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, June 3rd, 2015 (DDM) - It is that time again when we must all focus on hurricane preparations. Forecasters are predicting that this Hurricane Season will be “one of the least active seasons since the middle of the 20th century”.

They have attributed this to an El Niño development in the Pacific Ocean which will allow for increased wind shear in the tropical Atlantic Basin, which is one factor, along with dry air, that limits the development and strengthening of tropical storms and hurricanes in this part of the world.

According to the forecast issued by Colorado State University in April, the outlook calls for seven named storms, including three hurricanes, one of which is predicted to attain major hurricane status which is equivalent to Category 3 or stronger.

This is well below the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Although forecasters are predicting much less activity than we have seen for the past 30 plus years, they are reminding coastal residents that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season.

As a multi-island community, with extensive coastlines, it is very important for us in the British Virgin Islands to ensure that we remain steadfast in our level of preparedness. As the forecasters rightly indicate, all it takes is just one hurricane affecting any or more than one of our islands.

Join me in supporting the Department of Disaster Management’s campaign for this year under the theme “Be SMART – Preparedness leads to resiliency” which targets those persons in our community who are vulnerable.

Their aim is to ensure that hazard awareness messages are reaching the entire population but a concerted effort is being made to identify and support those who are considered highly vulnerable and need to take necessary action to improve their resiliency to potential hazard impacts.

Complacency has no place in disaster preparedness. The 2014 hurricane season featured the fewest number of named storms in 17 years. However, Bermuda was impacted by two very destructive hurricanes – Fay and Gonzalo which struck the territory within one week of each other.

Their impact caused between US $200 and $400 million dollars in insured losses and this does not include damage to infrastructure or the many boats that were destroyed.

This serves to underscore the unpredictability of storms and their level of impact which reinforces for us, the need to be prepared every year, regardless of seasonal forecasts.

In addition, climate change is having an effect on global weather by raising the average temperature of the planet. This is producing warmer temperatures which could increase the magnitude of droughts.

Here in the BVI, the very dry conditions of the past few months are quite evident with many of our previously green hillsides, now brown from being scorched by the intense heat.

Over the next six months the DDM will be working with all forms of local media to bring you important preparedness information and advice.

Follow these carefully to ensure that if we are to be impacted this year, we can recover quickly.

So remember, “Be SMART – Preparedness leads to resiliency”.

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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