Is St. Lu­cia Pre­pared for Hur­ri­cane Sea­son?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Clau­dia Elei­box

Saint Lu­cia has made a full lap around the sun and we have en­tered the time of the year to store wa­ter in bar­rels and have a sup­ply of matches, can­dle­sticks and canned food. June 1 marked the of­fi­cial be­gin­ning of the At­lantic hur­ri­cane sea­son and, as the years go by, peo­ple be­come in­creas­ingly un­easy with a po­ten­tially rainy weather fore­cast. Troughs and trop­i­cal storms have left us with dam­age equiv­a­lent to be­ing caused by hur­ri­canes, and they seem to be hap­pen­ing more fre­quently.

Last year the rainy/ hur­ri­cane sea­son opened with an elec­tion fever. Soon af­ter, on June 6, 2016 there was a heavy down­pour from the heav­ens and over­cast skies. Thank­fully the only land­slide recorded that day was the United Work­ers Party vic­tory. With a gov­ern­ment un­pre­pared, on Septem­ber 28, 2016 Trop­i­cal Storm Matthew paid a visit to Saint Lu­cia be­fore it trans­formed into a cat­e­gory five cy­clone. Hur­ri­cane Matthew was the dead­li­est of its kind since Hur­ri­cane Stan of the 2005 At­lantic hur­ri­cane sea­son, as it claimed 603 lives in the Caribbean and United States. Be­fore that, the coun­try’s cel­e­bra­tions and fes­tiv­i­ties had been com­pletely damp­ened twice: when Hur­ri­cane To­mas in­ter­rupted Jounen Kwéyòl in 2010 and then when the no­to­ri­ous 2013 Christ­mas Eve trough van­dal­ized our bridges.

There are many sources be­ing blamed for the new hur­ri­cane in­ten­sity and its ef­fects, from global warm­ing and cli­mate change to the past NICE work­ers not clean­ing the drains on time or gov­ern­ment not con­tract­ing to de­silt rivers be­fore­hand.

And while Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has many sup­port­ers of his de­ci­sion to step out of the Paris Frame­work Agree­ment, World En­vi­ron­ment Day and World Oceans Day were in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized on June 5 and 8 re­spec­tively. Both are days sig­ni­fy­ing the need to care for our home­land and sur­round­ing, which will ben­e­fit us in the long run, es­pe­cially dur­ing hur­ri­cane sea­son.

The Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Trust has di­rected mul­ti­ple clean-up cam­paigns be­fore and dur­ing the month of June that serve as a re­minder that garbage clogs drains and in­creases the chance of flood­ing dur­ing heavy rain­fall.

The Na­tional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Or­ga­ni­za­tion (NEMO) has not is­sued an of­fi­cial state­ment for the At­lantic hur­ri­cane sea­son but the or­gan­i­sa­tion has made con­sis­tent ef­forts to em­pha­size the need for dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness.

Our peo­ple have learned to take heed as Bexon has in­vol­un­tar­ily ac­quired an ep­i­thet re­lat­ing to floods af­ter any slight rain­fall.

Saint Lu­cia is still re­cov­er­ing from the ef­fects of Trop­i­cal Storm Matthew. Many farm­ers suf­fered im­mense loss of pro­duce and su­per­mar­ket shelves were void of fresh, lo­cally grown food for weeks last year.

As much as we would not like to be hit by a storm in the fu­ture, Saint Lu­cia sits on the At­lantic hur­ri­cane belt and we can never be too pre­pared.

Here’s what we have to look for­ward to dur­ing this At­lantic hur­ri­cane sea­son: a 45% chance of above av­er­age ac­tiv­ity, ac­cord­ing to U.S. Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NOAA). It may also be com­pa­ra­ble to last year’s hur­ri­cane sea­son, which was the most ac­tive one since 2012 (Hur­ri­cane Sandy).

2017’s hur­ri­cane sea­son pre­dic­tions be­gan with Trop­i­cal Storm Ar­lene in April, months be­fore the of­fi­cial open­ing. Al­though sim­i­lar oc­cur­rences have hap­pened in the past two years, Ar­lene calls for more an­tic­i­pa­tion of the sea­son be­ing above av­er­age in ad­di­tion to the pos­si­bil­ity of warmer wa­ter tem­per­a­tures due to El Nino’s un­pre­dictabil­ity. There’s a 70 per­cent chance of 11-17 named storms ac­cord­ing to NOAA and Colorado State Univer­sity, and The Weather Chan­nel pre­dicts about 14. Be­tween 5 and 9 of those storms are likely to be­come hur­ri­canes as op­posed to a reg­u­lar sea­son of 12 named storms and the prob­a­bil­ity of 6 hur­ri­canes.

NEMO usu­ally urges the pub­lic to pay at­ten­tion to ac­cu­rate weather up­dates as well as storm watch and warn­ings dur­ing this time.

Im­mense flood­ing as a re­sult of Trop­i­cal Storm Matthew last year.

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