Regional weather officials are urging Caribbean nationals to prepare for the 2014 hurricane season notwithstanding the predictions that it will be relatively quiet.
Glendell Da Souza, science and technology officer at the Caribbean Meteorological Organisation in Trinidad, made the call on Thursday as the “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft and officials from the U.S. National Hurricane Center arrived in St. Vincent for a two-day public sensitisation visit.
Forecasters say that the hurricane season, which begins June 1, is expected to be very quiet because of El Niño, the weather pattern that suppresses storm formation.
They expect nine tropical storms to form, but say only three will become hurricanes.
Da Souza noted that Caribbean nationals often say that the weatherman “lies”, because the forecasted weather does not affect the persons making the statement.
He said that in recent years, there have been storm parties and football games when storm warnings are issued.
“I would like for us as both meteorologists and the general public to rededicate ourselves. For some of you, you may have read the predictions, the El Nino phenomenon and what that may bring in terms of storms and hurricanes in the region.
“But I will like you to remember it only takes one. In fact, it doesn’t necessary have to have a direct passage over any of the islands to cause calamity. So let us rededicate ourselves so we can prevent the loss of life and infrastructure with this upcoming hurricane season.”
Da Souza’s comments were echoed by Richard Knapp, director of the Unites States National Hurricane Center.
He noted that the hurricane season is a reality for the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.
“Here, it is the same, we all must be prepared in advance to be as ready as we can for the next hurricane.
“Regardless of what the seasonal forecast might say, in any given year, where I live in south Florida, I am going to prepare the same way every year for every hurricane season, because just one tropical depression or storm or hurricane can bring water or wind hazards or both that can cause tremendous impact, and we will all come out better if we prepare and partner together.”
Praised the coordination between the countries in this part of the world.
“And that coordination with the warning and the outreach and the public education is the key to ensuring that the public is well informed and is safe.”
Da Souza says the region is fortunate in that there is aircraft reconnaissance that flies into the storm to collect data.
He said the visit is an unique opportunity to showcase that partnership and for the public to see how his team goes about doing everything it possibly can to keep them safe.
But Minister of Transport and Work, Sen. Julian Francis, while acknowledging the importance of the partnership in helping Vincentian prepare for storms, expressed disappointment with the speed at which weather forecast moves through officials channels.
“It is regrettable that in this modern age when everybody has a smartphone and has television access to all the weather channels in the United States and the world, that sometimes they are in front of [the National Emergency Management Office] and the local Met Office, so that sometimes when the information gets to us officially, through the Met Office and NEMO, persons who have been on their tablets and have searched on the weather channel have information in advance of the actual storm and information that is coming.
“I think we need to speed up in some way the transmission from the Center, through the regional organisation — find some method of getting official reports faster to the affected countries,” Francis said.
“I don’t know how that is possible, but … it has caused in the past some unease among the population,” he further stated.
The aircraft was open to public tours on Friday.