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JAM | Jul 11, 2024

‘Stay vigilant, active hurricane season just getting started’

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

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Principal Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, Evan Thompson. (Photo: Contributed)

Evan Thompson, principal director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, is urging Jamaicans not to let their guard down with the 2024 hurricane season projected to be active.

This comes as Hurricane Beryl brushed just south on the island last Wednesday (July 3), causing major damage to roadway infrastructure, buildings, and agriculture and claiming the lives of at least two Jamaicans.

“The truth is, we really need to prepare ourselves for the next phase; we need to make sure that we do what we need to do. Every hurricane will weaken a structure, so there may be some weakening that took place even after this Beryl, you might not have suffered loss where you are. You need to make sure you set the necessary that things back in place can yield to what comes next,” Thompson said.

With no Saharan dust to stunt growth, storm activity is at its highest yet, with a menacing Tropical Storm Beryl and two other disturbances in focus in this satellite image of the tropical Atlantic on Saturday, June 29, 2024. (Photo: National Hurricane Center)

The principal director while speaking at a Lions Club of Kingston meeting on Wednesday (July 10), said now is the time for Jamaicans to do the necessary repair work or use the time to address the necessary areas for the next hurricane.

“The hurricane season is [from] the first of June until the 30th day of November. Six months of the year and so because it is always set at that time of the year, there is no way that we can forget when the hurricane season is. We must be prepared for hurricane season because it doesn’t shift in terms of when it will occur. It always starts at the beginning of June. It so happens that occasionally you could have activity outside of that period. 

Everton Evanks stands in his room where the roof has been completely pulled apart in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl, in St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, July 5, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona)

“You could have activity that starts even before the first of June. In recent years we have had a system or two that developed before June, almost every year before this year; actually, this year is the first in a very long time that we have not had a tropical storm develop before June 1. It is interesting that this year is predicted to be such an active year and we have already seen quite a bit of activity this year but we have seen nothing before June 1,” said Thompson, further noting that while rare, systems may also develop after November 30 when the hurricane season typically ends.

Meanwhile, Thompson noted that Jamaicans are preparing much better for hurricanes than they were in previous years. He said this is mainly because threats from the hurricane season are becoming more frequent.

Colorado State University (CSU) weather forecasters on Tuesday increased the number of hurricanes expected in 2024 in the closely watched July update to their long-range forecast.

Completely blanketed by Category 4 Hurricane Beryl, this satellite-generated time-lapse shows a silhouette of Jamaica as well as general weather activity in the central Caribbean Sea as at 4:10 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. (Content courtesy of NOAA/NHC)

In its updated seasonal forecast, CSU meteorologists said they expect six major hurricanes out of 12 hurricanes from 25 named storms before the season ends on November 30.

The CSU’s April 13 forecast predicted five major hurricanes out of 11 hurricanes from 23 named storms.

Forecasters cite two primary reasons for above-average hurricane forecasts. Seas are hotter than they are normally, providing more energy to feed tropical cyclones. Also, the absence this year of an El Niño weather pattern, which was present in 2023. El Niño produces strong winds that break apart hurricanes.

“While early season storm activity in the western Atlantic typically has little relationship with overall basinwide activity, deep tropical hurricane activity in the tropical Atlantic and eastern Caribbean (such as we saw with Beryl) is often associated with hyperactive seasons,” according to the forecast.

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