The hurricane season is here!

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June 1st marks the beginning of the 2010 Tropical Atlantic Hurricane Season.  The latest outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States expects a very busy season.  The outlook release on May 27th  predicts as many as 23 named storms, 14 of which will be hurricanes. The NOAA predicts 4 of the 14 to be major hurricanes this year.  A major hurricane has winds exceeding 110mph.

This latest outlook depicts more activity than those released in April by other scientists.  However, they all indicate an above average season this year.  An average season produces about 11 named storms with about 6 hurricanes of which 3 become major hurricanes.

Last year the Atlantic Basin saw a below average season with only 9 storms named 3 of which became hurricanes. This was attributed by the presence of the El Nino phenomenon in the Pacific.  This year’s predictions are based on a combination of factors including the weakening El Nino and the increasing likelihood of a La Nina phase setting in towards the second half of 2010.

In a La Nina phase, winds in the upper atmosphere decrease allowing hurricanes to gather more strength.  In an El Nino phase upper level wind increase, producing strong wind shear resulting in reduced cyclone activity.

Presently it is still difficult for scientists to accurately predict exactly where or when a system will make landfall months in advance. The direct path of a cyclone can only be predicted just a few days in advance, although uncertainty still exists.

Regardless of the number of named storms this season, we should be prepared. Minimizing loss of life and property is the responsibility of all citizens.  Historical data tells us that the peak of the season is August to September however; this does not mean that a storm cannot hit our island in June.

Here are a few tips to follow:

·        Now is the time to get our family hurricane supplies together. Do not wait till a watch or warning is issued to rush to the supermarkets. Stock up on your supplies.

·        Examine your surrounding. After the very dry season this year cracks in the soil are going to be filled in the rainy season and soil may give way.

·        Clear drains/gutters in your neighbourhood.  Identify your nearest shelter if you need to evacuate.

·        Remember if you live in low lying areas, near a river or water course will definitely need to evacuate in the event of a storm.

·        Make sure everyone in your family is part of the planning and know what to do in case of a hurricane.  Having a plan will make it less stressful.

·        Purchase a battery operated radio, a good flashlight and some batteries.

The Meteorological Service will play its part in keeping the public updated and informed on any storm activity in the Tropics and any storm that may threaten Dominica.

– Dominica Meteorological Services Press Release

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