Subtropical storm Andrea came and went with little fanfare this week, providing a low-key, if early, kick-off to the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.
As the Compass reported on Wednesday, the storm, west southwest of Bermuda, never threatened our islands, nor did it offer any real cause for alarm anywhere in our region. Indeed, it was quickly downgraded to a subtropical depression before fading away.
Even so, Andrea’s brief appearance came on the heels of our National Day of Preparedness, making this the fifth consecutive year that a named storm appeared before the season’s official 1 June start – offering a timely reminder for us all to get down to the business of preparation for the months ahead.
As cyclone researcher Brian McNoldy wrote for the Washington Post this week, “Clearly, nothing is magical about the official June 1 start of hurricane season. The official start and end dates were never intended to contain all of the activity, just the vast majority of it.” In fact, he points out, when the official ‘season’ was laid out 85 years ago, it ran from 15 June to 31 October. Since then, it has been adjusted several times and could certainly be adjusted again to reflect the recent trend of named storms ‘jumping the gun.’
But the important issue, from our perspective, is not the season’s official starting date. Rather, it is making sure all residents are prepared well in advance of any threatening weather. As Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers reminded in a statement issued for National Day of Preparedness, “planning ahead can save lives!”
Readers who have not already done so this spring should review preparedness plans and share those plans with family, friends and neighbours to be sure everyone knows what to expect if extreme weather does come our way. Newer residents from outside our region should familiarise themselves with the basics of hurricane preparation and response. That includes: deciding where to take shelter; stocking up on plenty of water, non-perishable food and other necessary supplies; collecting vital paperwork; creating a plan for pets and taking steps to protect homes and personal property; and various other considerations.
The time to prepare is when the sun still is shining, not when a storm is heading our way.
We would also strongly encourage readers to consider how they might assist the larger community in the event of threatening weather this season, particularly by becoming a member of a Community Emergency Response Team or signing up to become a trained shelter volunteer or manager. For more information about those resources, or about hurricane preparedness in general, visit www.caymanprepared.ky or pick up a copy of Thursday’s Compass, which will include our annual Hurricane Survival Guide.
There is no way to know exactly what weather the next few months will bring to our little islands, so we must prepare, and be ready to respond to whatever the season brings.