THE National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is satisfied that The Bahamas is prepared for the threat of hurricanes this season, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre is forecasting as near-normal or below-normal.
Capt Stephen Russell, Director of NEMA, chaired a meeting on the eve of the June 1 official start of the season and fielded reports from the Emergency Support Function groups. He was satisfied with the level of preparedness, especially in the critical areas of emergency shelters, the Bahamas Red Cross and public utilities.
The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, which has a partnership with NOAA through the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, advises against complacency.
“It takes only one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season,” it warns. “Therefore, all residents are urged to prepare the same for every season regardless of how much activity is predicted.”
NEMA will hold its Disaster Preparedness Week from June 22 to 28, when agency will highlight the importance of communities being prepared if faced with a situation. According to NOAA, the main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Nino this summer. El Ni�o causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes.
El Ni�o can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off Africa to intensify into tropical storms.
The outlook suggests a 50 per cent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 per cent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10 per cent chance of an above-normal season, according to NOAA.
For the six-month hurricane season, NOAA predicts a 70 per cent likelihood of eight to 13 named storms (winds of 39mph or higher), of which three to six could become hurricanes (winds of 74mph or higher), including one to two major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111mph or higher).
These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the north Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
The named storms are: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.