By Aabigayle McIntosh
“Take the necessary precautions and be prepared”, is the message meteorologists, forecasters, disaster officials, and others are sending to residents across Antigua and Barbuda this hurricane season.
The season runs from June 1 to November 30 and early predictions are that it will be an above-normal season.
Deputy Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Officer Lorne Salmon told state TV on Thursday that preparation is the key noting that any storm or hurricane can cause significant devastation.
“All it takes is just one storm, not necessarily a strong storm to really caused havoc and so our message to individuals is to always be prepared for the Hurricane season”.
Social Transformation Minister Samantha Marshall also noted in a statement on Thursday that it only takes one storm to set the country back from the gains that have been made since the last major impact and the gains made in Barbuda after the ravages and catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Irma.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted in late May a 40% chance of 2023 being a near-normal hurricane season, a 30% chance of an above-average season, which has more storms than usual, and a 30% chance of a below-normal season, which has fewer.
Climatologist Dale Destin is also encouraged residents to “brace themselves”
In his personal blog, Destin noted that an above-normal season is likely for 2023, with the most recent forecast (May) predicting 153 for the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE), 18 named storms, including 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).
“While most agencies and experts issuing forecasts since March to the present have predicted a near-normal season is most likely, the forecasts since the start of May have been shifting to an above-normal season being likely, similar to the prediction from 268W,” he said.
He went on to note that, “it’s essential to remember that it only takes a single storm to cause significant damage and devastation, regardless of the overall activity level. Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare as much as possible for every hurricane season.”
“As the saying goes, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” When it comes to hurricane season, this adage holds true. Preparedness is key to mitigating the potential risks and ensuring the safety of ourselves and our loved ones”, Destin added.
He also pointed to some essential steps to take in preparation for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season as listed below.
- Stay Informed: Monitor updates from official sources such as the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC), local authorities and meteorological services. Pay attention to weather forecasts, storm tracks and evacuation orders. Being aware of potential threats empowers you to make informed decisions and take necessary actions promptly.
- Create a Family Emergency Plan: Establish a clear comprehensive plan with your family or household members, including designated meeting points (in case of separation), contact information, and procedures for evacuation. Ensure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, especially for those with special needs or pets.
- Assemble an Emergency Kit: Prepare a well-stocked disaster kit with essential items, including non-perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries, medications, first aid supplies, important documents and a portable radio. Be sure to rotate perishable items periodically.
- Secure Your Property: Assess your property for vulnerabilities and take steps to strengthen it against potential storm damage. Trim trees, reinforce windows and doors, secure loose outdoor items and consider investing in hurricane shutters or impact-resistant materials.
- Review Insurance Coverage: Review your insurance policies, including homeowners, renters and flood insurance. Ensure that you have adequate coverage to protect your property and possessions. Consider flood insurance even if you do not live in a high-risk flood zone.
- Be a Good Neighbour: Reach out to your neighbours, particularly the elderly or those with limited mobility, to check on their preparedness plans. Offer assistance, if needed, and foster a sense of community support and resilience.
- Maintain communication: Keep your cell phones charged and have alternative means of communication in case of power outages. Share your plans with family and friends.