For the latest information on storm activity in the Cayman Islands, as well as information on how to prepare for hurricane season, visit Storm Centre.
This year’s Atlantic hurricane season marked the halfway point on 1 Sept. with forecasters noting it has exceeded expected numbers.
As of the end of August, there have been 11 named storms, which the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said is “well above the 30-year average of 6 to 7” named storms for the first three months of the season.
“We haven’t even reached the peak of the hurricane season yet, which is September 10,” said Cayman Islands National Weather Service forecaster Shamal Clarke.
Although the season has been relatively busy, Cayman has – so far – been spared the brunt of the storms. On 18 Aug., Tropical Storm Grace passed 20 miles southeast of Grand Cayman. Tens of thousands of households were plunged into darkness, as the storm downed power lines and uprooted trees across the island.
Then on 25 Aug., Tropical Storm Ida travelled across Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, drenching the Sister Islands with nearly 9 inches of rain, and knocking out power for several hundred homes.
The storms did not develop into major hurricanes until they passed the islands.
The beginning of the season
In a pre-season forecast issued on 8 April, the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project called for 18 named storms, of which eight were expected to be hurricanes, with four of those becoming major hurricanes.
Then on 20 May, for the first time ever, the National Hurricane Center released their official hurricane season predictions two weeks early. In that forecast, the NHC called for up to 20 named storms comprising 10 hurricanes, five of which were expected to become major hurricanes.
Both forecasts predicted an above-average season.
In July, CSU revised their predictions and increased the number of expected named storms from 17 to 20. The revision also included an uplift in the number of expected hurricanes from seven to eight – while the total number of predicted major hurricanes remained at four.
Then in August, NHC released their midseason forecast which called for an increase in the range of storms from 13-20 to 15-21, with no change in the number of major hurricanes.
Each year, the hurricane season officially begins on 1 June and runs through 30 Nov. However, for the sixth consecutive year, the first named storm occurred before the official start date, with Tropical Storm Ana forming on 22 May.
The remainder of the season
With three months to go before the end of the season, Clarke warns there is ample time for further storm development.
“Early storm activity, whether high or low, should not be used as a definitive guideline for the remainder of the season,” he said. “There is still an air of unpredictability as the season continues; there is still the chance for more frequency of storms. My advice would be for people not to let their guards down and to remain vigilant.”