Today’s Editorial, August 22: Peak hurricane season here

So far, the 2006 hurricane season has been nothing like it was advertised.

A year that was supposed to spawn more tropical storms and hurricanes than average has only produced three relatively innocuous tropical storms. The key words here, however, are so far.

The Atlantic Basin is now entering a month-long period, which has become known as the peak hurricane season because, historically, most hurricanes in the region happen during this period.

This period, which reaches its zenith about 10 September, is marked by high sea surface temperatures and low upper level wind sheer, which, when combined, are a perfect for the development of tropical storm systems.

Almost on cue, a low pressure system has developed off the coast of Africa and is heading westward. No one would be surprised if this system develops more.

While the Cayman Islands and the rest of the Atlantic Basin can take comfort in the uneventful hurricane season so far, it only takes the hit of one hurricane on any particular place to make it a terrible season for the people of that place.

Residents in the Cayman Islands should have purchased their hurricane supplies months ago, but we know that not everybody did that. Now is a good time for those who did not make those purchases to go out and stock up on their basic hurricane supplies, rather than waiting until a Hurricane Watch is issued and then fighting crowds, traffic and supply shortages of things like batteries or bottled water.

In addition, there may not always be several days of warning about a possible storm strike. The Western Caribbean, with its very high sea temperatures, is itself a breeding ground for storms, especially later in the hurricane season. A storm could form south of Cayman and then be upon us with relatively little notice.

Now is also the time to make sure homeowners and home contents insurance are in place. Some people try to wait until there’s a hurricane coming before they take care of these matters, but they should know that most insurance companies will not accept new policies or upgraded coverage as soon as Cayman is within the five-day cone of strike possibilities as determined by the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

We all hope the remainder of the hurricane season is as uneventful for Cayman as the first part. We need to remember, however, that we aren’t out of the woods yet.

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