Fri | Dec 4, 2020

Cedric Stephens | Prepare to batten down

Published:Friday | July 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM
In this 2013 file photo, a damaged house stands in Manchioneal, 25 years after Hurricane Gilbert decimated areas of Jamaica. For 2017, forecasters expect an above-normal storm season, so batten down.

QUESTION: The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season began last month. What can we expect this year? What would you recommend that we should do to prepare for a storm or hurricane?

- A.B. J., Kingston 5

INSURANCE HELPLINE: I like your style of writing short and to the point. In a similar vein, 'prevention is better than cure'. These five words formed part of my daily diet when I was growing up.

The online version of the Cambridge Dictionary provides the context for your two questions, which are consistent with the stated aims of this column and explains with precision the meaning of the proverb "It is better to stop something bad from happening than it is to deal with it after it has happened". This maxim can be applied to personal life and business, to the matter of one's health, and the managing of risks from natural disasters like storms, hurricanes, and floods.




Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Centre, according to a May 25 report - - says that "the Atlantic could see another above-normal hurricane season this year", which runs from June 1 to November 30, and that "forecasters are expecting a 45 per cent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 per cent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 per cent chance of a below-normal season".

Specifically, the forecasters have projected "a 70 per cent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds 39 miles per hour or higher) of which five to nine could become hurricanes (winds 74 miles per hour or higher), including two to four major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5 -winds of 111 miles per hour or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes".

An article I wrote in the wake of flood events, which occurred two months ago and which resulted in economic losses of $4 billion titled "Inadequate risk management has costly outcomes" was published at the start of the current hurricane season. It was directed primarily at policymakers and our political overseers. The contents of the article were, it now turns out, expanding the well-known proverb.

The answers to your second question can be found on the websites of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and the Jamaica Information Service I have reviewed the information on both sites and concluded that the information that they offer is useful for householders like you.

- Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and advice about the management of risks and insurance. For free information or counsel, write to: