Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Very active hurricane season predicted for Caribbean

Published:Monday | May 30, 2016 | 3:10 PM
This NOAA satellite image taken today at 12:45 AM EDT shows widespread showers and storms across much of Hispaniola and the Lesser Antilles. Scattered rain showers continue over the Bahamas, while mostly clear conditions can be seen across the Western Caribbean.

ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC):
A two-day Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) began in Dominica today with the region being told to brace itself for wetter than usual season and chances of more hurricane activity this year than in past five years.

Climatologist with the Dominica Meteorologist Service, (DMS) Annie Carrette-Jospeh, who presented the Wet/Hurricane Season Outlook for 2016, said that between the period June to August, there would also be a gradual drought alleviation across the region and that “surface water reservoirs will recharge, there will be soil moisture replenishment and an increased in river flow.

She predicted that water shortage related problems in agriculture will disappear in many places and that “where it has not already started, the wet season may start abruptly in June”.

The outlook noted that the second half of the wet season will be wetter or usual in countries like Belize and the Leeward Islands with Carrette-Joseph warning that “moist conditions may favour mosquito breeding”.

The outlook, which was prepared by the DMS in collaboration with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), also warned of extremely wet spells occurring with “serious potential for flash flooding and landslides.

In addition, for the period, September to November, these months will be wetter than usual and that there will also be chances of more hurricane activity than in the past five years.

There are predictions for 12 named storms this year with US based scientists Klotzbach and Gray indicating the region having to deal with at least one major storm in the Category of either 3, 4 or 5.

There is also the forecast that the temperature during the next six months will be above to normal and that “both nights and days will be warm”.

The implications as a result will be enhanced health risk from heat exposure and higher than usual energy costs for cooling.

The DMS climatologist said that La Niña increases chances of a wetter dry season and that “this could be similar to dry season of 2011, where some said there was no dry season”.

The outlook for the Caribbean was presented at the conference where delegates will discuss how Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) can build resilience to extreme weather and climate events, with a focus on the pivotal role that national and regional health and disaster risk management agencies play in building a climate resilient Caribbean.

The two day event is organised by the regional climate services provider, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), in collaboration with the Dominica Meteorological Service and other stakeholders including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

CIMH head, Dr David Farrell told the opening ceremony that for the past 12 months, the Caribbean has had to deal with the drought experience saying “we could not stop the drought … but we were able to mitigate the impacts of the drought on the region.

“In doing so we would have saved livelihoods, help governments to really tailor their decision making process,” he added.

In her address to the conference, Dominica’s Minister of Public Works and Transport, Miriam Blanchard, said that weather events significantly impact the economies of the Caribbean and made reference to the passage last year of Tropical Storm Erika that left more than EC$1 billion in damages as well as causing the death of more than 20 people.

She said the weather situations have “brought hardship to our peoples and countries as invariable it seems that every other year we are required to divert funding  allocated for development projects to prepare for or respond to these weather events.

“As we approach the 2016 hurricane season this government is extremely concerned about the possibility of yet another wet system coming to our shores.

“We are cognisant of the vulnerability of Dominica to such events and we are pressing ahead using all available resources to mitigate the likely effects of the increasing risks to some of our communities and infrastructure left behind by Tropical Storm Erika,” she said.

Representatives from at least 20 countries including government officials and practitioners from the climate-sensitive sectors, particularly health and disaster risk management are attending the meeting as well as representatives from the Department of Health Canada and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).