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.