The Hurricane Hunter aircraft paid
a visit to Cayman last week. On board were officials from the National
Hurricane Center in Miami, including Director Bill Read and Senior Hurricane
Specialist Lixion Avila.
The timing of the visit, which was
part of a Caribbean and Latin American tour, was not coincidental.
The National Hurricane Center does
this road show to raise awareness in advance of 1 June, the beginning of the
Atlantic Basin hurricane season.
When it comes to preparedness, Avila says “the battle is won outside of hurricane
Some people believe the forecasters
flubbed their predictions for a very active 2010 hurricane season because the
Cayman Islands felt little effects from tropical cyclones last year.
The truth is, last year’s hurricane
season was indeed very active, bringing 19 named storms, 12 hurricanes and five
major hurricanes, all above the long-term average for the Caribbean Basin.
Luckily, many of last year’s cyclones
were ‘fish storms’ that stayed out to sea without making landfall.
However, if the people along the
Gulf coast in Mexico were asked about the 2010 hurricane season, they would
probably say 2010 was the busiest hurricane season in years if not ever.
It only takes one hurricane to hit
a particular area to make it a busy hurricane season for that area.
That is why people who live in hurricane prone
areas such as the Cayman Islands must prepare the same way every year, whether
an active season is forecast or not.
The more the population grows and
the more development that takes place along coastal areas, the more vulnerable
life and property in the Cayman Islands becomes to the impacts of tropical cyclones.
With modern forecasting and
communications, we have time to seek safe shelter from approaching storms.
However, preparing our property is
another matter, one which requires forethought and actions.
This is part of why the Hurricane
Hunter visited Cayman and we’d be wise to heed the reminder that preparing for
hurricanes is a year-round task.