Cayman Islands residents should enjoy the dry, sunny weather because it won’t last much longer.
The weather transitions from the dry season to the rainy season this month. Although Chief Meteorologist John Tibbetts said there is no official date for the start of rainy season, the first rains usually start in the middle of May.
“May is the period during which summer begins to truly establish itself, and weather systems then begin moving from mainly east to west, in contra-distinction to a mainly west to east movement that normally starts in November,” Mr. Tibbetts said.
Looking back on the last 10 years, Mr. Tibbetts said appreciable rainfall totals commenced between 12-18 May in four of those years.
The coming rains will be welcomed by many because the ending dry season was particularly dry.
“The 2010/11 dry season has been especially hard as the usually reliable rainfall totals in November were significantly below average. A rainfall total of 1.06 inches was recorded for November 2010 as compared to the expected 6.63 inches,” Mr. Tibbetts said, nothing that the rainfall total for November 2010 was the second-lowest since 1957 when recordings began.
The low rainfall totals in November started a run of six consecutive months of below-average rainfall. April saw only 0.18 inches of rain, well below the average rainfall for the month of 1.68 inches.
Adding the deficits of recorded rainfall over the past six months, Grand Cayman has had
10.96 inches less than would have been expected normally.
The beginning of rainy season means hurricane season is right around the corner. Forecasters are predicting an above-average hurricane season this year in terms of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes of Category 3 or above.
The hurricane season officially begins on 1 June and ends on 30 November. However, tropical cyclones have been monitored in the Atlantic Basin all months of the year since 1851.
Three times in the last nine years tropical cyclones have formed before 1 June. In 2003 Tropical Storm Ana formed in April; in 2007 Subtropical Storm Andrea formed in May; and in 2008 Tropical Storm Arthur formed in the Western Caribbean on the last day of May.
According to statistics on the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center website, on average the first named storm of the year occurs on 9 July; the first hurricane forms on 1 August; and the first major hurricane with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour happens on 4 September.
Hazard Management Cayman Islands Director McCleary Frederick would like to see residents prepare for hurricane season now. To underscore the point, Cayman will observe National Day of Preparedness on Monday, 16 May.
A press release issued by Hazard Management this week warned that if Cayman were impacted by a major hurricane, residents would likely find themselves without many of the conveniences to which they’ve grown accustomed, including electricity, running water, gasoline, supermarkets and banks, for a week or more.
“Minimise your dependence on government, family or friends to support you in the aftermath of a storm,” Mr. Frederick said. “Begin taking the steps needed to get prepared.”
On the National Day of Preparedness, Cayman residents are urged to update their family hurricane plan and restock the various recommended hurricane supplies. The Caymanian Compass annually publishes a hurricane guide that details the recommended supplies. This year’s guide will be inserted into the newspaper on 2 June.
Mr. Frederick spoke about some of the other things residents should do in advance of hurricane season.
“If you have a generator, get it serviced,” he said. “And check your [hurricane shutters]. Sometimes rust and debris and accumulate in the tracks and this can make them hard to install.”
In addition, Mr. Frederick said residents should check to ensure their insurance policies are current, remove any debris from their yards and trim their trees.
“If you get ready now, you reap the benefits later in the season,” the Hazard Management press release stated. “No battling traffic, no long lines, less tension and more peace of mind.”