By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Friday urged Bahamians to be aware of their level of preparedness as international forecasters officially announced projections for the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.
Hurricane forecasters are predicting an average of 12 to 14 named storms, of which eight are expected to intensify to hurricane strength, with three becoming major storms - category three or higher.
Director of the Bahamas’ Meteorology Department, Trevor Basden presented the forecast from figures published by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami. The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.
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.
The 2016 Atlantic storm names are Alex (which formed as a tropical storm in mid-January, the earliest a storm has ever effected the Atlantic basin), Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Juli, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Gary, Tobias, Virginie and Walter.
NEMA director, Captain Stephen Russell stressed that as the storm season nears, residents throughout the Bahamas should use this time to ensure that their homes and properties are prepared for hurricane force conditions.
Speaking to the media on Friday, Capt Russell said NEMA has finalised most of its preparations, saying that the department was now concluding its multi-sectoral meetings with other agencies throughout the country to verify that all essential mechanisms are in place and functional.
NEMA has been working closely with officials from the Ministries of Works, National Security (Police and Defence Force personnel), the Bahamas Telecommunication Company (BTC), Bahamas Power and Light (BPL/BEC), media outlets and scores of other emergency response departments throughout the public and private sector.
Currently, BTC is working to ensure that communication technology is established in a manner to ensure its continuous use throughout the storm season.
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s (RBDF) auxiliary landing craft, the HMBS Lawrence Major, is running supplies throughout the country, as some Family Islands are still working to repair damage sustained during the 2015 storm season, particularly Hurrican Joaquin which hit last October.
On land, the RBDF is said to be stocking supplies to ensure quick deployment when needed.