Caribbean Hurricane Season
June 1st to November 30th Annually
Caribbean Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th annually.
For 2014 21 named storms have been forecasted for the Atlantic Basin.
In Jamaica, apart from a few overcast days at the beginning of June, summer is warming up nicely.
Caribbean Region-Courtesy of World Atlas
Caribbean Hurricane Season - 21 named Storms for 2014
In these early stages the main focus on hurricane season in Jamaica is preparedness and while we have 21 named storms for 2014, the ones of concern will be those likely to make landfall.
Read more on Jamaica's hurrican preparedness and magement at www.odpem.org.jm
Caribbean Hurricane Season - Terms you should know:
- “Tropical Depression” - This is a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained wind-speed up to 62 km/h = 33 knots
- “Tropical Storm” – this is a well organised tropical cyclone with maximum wind-speeds in range of 63-117 km/h = 34-63 knots
- “Hurricane” – this is a tropical cyclone with maximum wind-speed equal to or more than 118 km/h = 64 knots
- “ Eye of a Hurricane” – this is the calm area in the centre of the hurricane with light winds and clouds and warm temperatures. They eye is bordered by the maximum winds of the hurricane and torrential rains.
- “Storm Surge” – this is a great dome of water often up to 80km wide that sweeps across the coastline near the sea. The surge is the most dangerous part of the hurricane
Most Caribbean hurricanes are more likely to occur between August and October, however they may occur at other times.
Things to do Before the Hurricane Season
- Check the storm surge history and elevation of your area
- Find out your evacuation routes
- Know the nearest shelter location
- Find a place to move your boat or yacht in an emergency
- Check that your insurance policy is current and has adequate cover
- Trim tree limbs that could cause damage during the storm
- Contact power company for advice when trimming or removing trees close to power lines
- Have a licensed electrician check the service wire connection to your home to ensure it can withstand hurricane winds
- Ensure family members know where the circuit breaker is located in case the power needs to be turned off
- If you are installing a stand-by generator, get a licensed electrician to connect it to the main electrical pane.
- Check your roof and make necessary repairs
- Keep on hand lumber, hammer nails, rope and wire to secure your property
- Know where to find your Disaster Preparedness Co-ordinator
Caribbean Hurricane Season preparedness kit
Your preparedness kit should include:
- First Aid Kit
- Portable Radio
- Bottled Water
- Canned and Dry Food
- Clean up supplies
- Eating and cooking utensils
Should you stay or leave?
You will need to decide before the storm arrives whether it is safe for you to stay at home or if you should evacuate.
It is wise to evacuate if you live in any of these areas:
- The coastline
- Beside a river or gully
- In flood plains
Caribbean Hurricane Season - A Hurricane Watch
If you are advised to be on a Hurricane Watch, this means that the hurricane could pose a threat to your area within 36 hours.
At this time you will become pro active and begin to take any precautions that will require more than 18/24 hours to fulfil.
Prepare for the Storm
The check list below will help you to prepare and will vary according to your circumstances. Prepare your home and stock up on the following:
- Secure everything that could be blown away.
- Gas up your vehicle and secure in garage or away from trees
- Stock up on drinking water enough to last at least two weeks
- Fill bathtubs and other containers with water for sanitary purposes
- Stock up on non-perishable food – ensure you have enough for at least two weeks
- Stock up on prescription medications such as Ventolin, Insulin, blood pressure tablets and first aid supplies
- Stock up on batteries for radios and flashlights
Caribbean Hurricane Season - Hurricane Warning
A hurricane warning means the storm is expected to hit within 24 hours. If this is declared by the relevant authorities, you will need to ensure the following:
- Evacuate areas that might be affected by storm surge or flooding or evacuate immediately if told to do so by the local officials.
- Batten down windows and shutters or lumber
- Use masking tape where necessary to tape glass windows. This prevents broken glass from splintering.
- Take down awnings if possible or raise and tie them securely
- Take down TV, CB and VHF antennae as well as satellite dishes.
- Wrap document and important papers and store in a high place safe from water.
- You could also send documents to your own email address as a back up.
- Unplug small appliances and turn off electricity at main switch
- Close and brace external doors
- Where you can, remove outside light bulbs and fluorescent tubes
- Listen to the radio for updates
Caribbean Hurricane Season - During the Hurricane
During the Hurricane or Storm, the following recommendations should be adhered to:
- Stay indoors. Do not go outside unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Wait for official word that it is safe for you to leave your home
- Use candles with the utmost care
- In case of heavy winds and severe lightening, turn off an unplug all electrical equipment
- Continue to listen to the radio for updates
- Place portable generators outside house so that it gets proper ventilation
- Always turn off generator when refuelling
- Do not go outside during the calm when the eye of the hurricane is passing
- Stay away from windows even if they are covered
- Stay in an interior room
- Do not open doors and windows facing the force of the wind
- If the roof is made of tiles be prepared for falling tiles or other ceiling material by taking cover
- If the house shows signs of breaking up stay under a table or stand in a doorframe
Caribbean Hurricane Season - After the Hurricane
Caribbean Hurricane Season - Wait until you hear on the radio or TV that the dangerous winds are definitely out of your area before venturing outside.
Some precautions to take:
- Seek medical aid at first aid stations, hospitals or clinics for persons injured in the hurricane.
- Beware of outdoor hazards such as downed power lines, weakened bridges and washed out roads, weakened tree limbs or trees.
- Never touch a fallen power line or try to move it. If the line still has power you could be electrocuted.
- Do not empty stored water and boil all drinking water until you are advised that a safe supply has been restored.
- Use dry or canned foods.
- Be alert to prevent fires. Do not use candles or burn debris.
- Be sure to check your house for structural damage before moving back
- Get certified electrician to check and repair electrical damage to your house
- Do not walk outside barefooted
- Avoid wearing open shoes
- Watch out for broken glass or sharp debris
- Report broken sewer or water mains to local authorities
- Offer help to other members of your community who might have been affected
The above information is given courtesy of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, www.odpem.org.jm
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