By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORECASTERS are predicting an active 2016 storm season in the Atlantic region, with as many as eight hurricanes forming, of which three are projected to be major storms.
Experts suggest that this year’s season - which starts officially on June 1 - would be above average, with the most active forecast since the 2012 storm season.
Yesterday, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) director Captain Stephen Russell told The Tribune he endorsed forecasts published by a number of international meteorology institutions.
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) is predicting 12 to 14 named storms, of which eight are expected to intensify to hurricane strength, with three becoming major storms – category three or higher.
The forecast provided by the NHC differs slightly from forecasts being offered by other institutions but was supported by AccuWeather, which expected the formation of 14 named storms this season, with eight predicted to be hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
Global Weather Oscillations (GWO) has predicted the formation of 17 named storms, with nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
In comparison to the 2015 forecast, this year’s predictions call for two more major storms (0-1 in 2015), at least four more hurricanes (1-4 in 2015) and nearly double the amount of named storms (5-10 in 2015). The 2015 forecast was considered the one of the more calm compared to 30-year averages.
Experts contend that while there is no direct correlation between prediction and occurrences, in recent history predictions have often proved accurate.
Despite its calm forecast, two of the storms from the 2015 Atlantic basin storm season have now been officially retired due to their destruction - Erika and Joaquin. Joaquin devastated the southern islands of the Bahamas last October as a category four hurricane with strong winds and storm surge.
The two storms were the 79th and 80th Atlantic storm names to be retired since 1954. The naming list is recycled every six years and Erika and Joaquin will be replaced by Elsa and Julian.
The 2016 Atlantic storm names are Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Juli, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Gary, Tobias, Virginie and Walter.
Capt Russell told The Tribune that his office is already working to implement a number of “course corrective measures” throughout many of the Family Islands adversely affected by Hurricane Joaquin last year.
Last month representatives from NEMA travelled to Long Island to meet officials there to ensure that plans were “underway” to guard against storm-related disasters. Similar meetings have also taken place in Crooked Island and are expected to take place in a number of other Family Islands in the coming days.
“The key is to make sure that we have everyone, all the essential personnel on board. They need to be in communication as we get closer to the start of the new hurricane season. While we like to look at the projection and work based on that, the point is to be ready on all fronts to deal with what may come,” Capt Russell said.
“We are pushing the social media angle as we look to get everyone to stay in communication as easy as possible. In Grand Bahama, Crooked Island, Long Island, San Salvador and Acklins, essential personnel are all communicating via social media. This is our effort to make sure that an inter-island link exists between the various critical response groups on those islands.”
The 2016 hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.