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Published 8th April 2010, 1:26pm

Fred Sambula M.Sc., Chartered MCIPD, FRMetS, Director General, National Weather Service Cayman Islands — Ministry District Administration, Works & Gender Affairs

The Hurricane Season is here again and according to those institutions involved in seasonal predictions, the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico may see above average, major hurricane, landfall risk this year. What is average? This is the 50 year long-term mean of named storms, hurricanes and intense hurricanes. In an average year we would typically expect 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes & 2.3 intense hurricanes.

The April 7 early forecast, by Klotzbach and Gray of Colorado State University’s Tropical Cyclone Project, calls for 15 named storms of which 8 are expected to become hurricanes, 4 of these may be intense hurricanes i.e. with winds 111 mph or higher. An update to this forecast is due on 2nd June just a day after the start of the hurricane season.

There may be those in our community who, upon reading this, may want to relax their level of preparedness. The Public is urged to take individual and community hurricane preparedness extremely seriously for 2009. Our encounters with hurricanes Ivan, 2004, as well as Paloma and Gustav, in 2008 should serve to remind us that the Cayman Islands are not immune. Whether we have an active or inactive season, all it takes is one system that could wreak untold havoc on our community.

I can only reiterate that in looking at the historical database of hurricanes since the early 1900’s, researchers discovered cycles of very active & less active periods for hurricane activity. It seems that since the mid 1990’s, we have entered a cycle of increased activity which could last through the first decade or so of the 21st century. Even without invoking global warming, there is a definite cycle of increased activity that the general public must take seriously.

Advances and improvements have been made in hurricane tracking, and there is no shortage of information available to the public. Over the years, our national weather service, emergency managers and media have worked together to get this information out to the public in a timely manner, and this undertaking is being continuously refined.

I urge residents to prepare for the season and to pay particular attention to the many public statements, on preparedness and mitigation, issued regularly on our local radio and television. To be informed can lead to better personal as well as community decisions, and this can be the difference between life and death during a hurricane. Everyone must take hurricane season seriously, and pay close attention to local radio and television stations for the latest bulletins from the National Weather Service & the office of Hazard Management, Cayman Islands. If you do not yet have a personal hurricane plan, please get one in place. Be certain that you have your hurricane supplies, and if you live in a high risk or vulnerable area, plan your escape route to the nearest hurricane shelter. Remember “There is an abundance of statistics to show that quite a number of people have perished because they failed to be prepared, but we are yet to find where being properly prepared led to individual demise”.