Even as the Virgin Islands grapple with the global Coronavirus pandemic it now has to contend with the fact that the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season officially starts on June 1, 2020 and is predicted to be a very active one.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual Atlantic hurricane forecast, published Thursday, May 22, 2020, shows an abnormally active season in the coming months.
And for the sixth straight year, a named tropical system formed in the Atlantic basin ahead of the start date of the season as Tropical Storm Arthur became the first named storm of 2020 last week.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which officially starts June 1 and ends November 30, typically produces 12 named storms.
This year, NOAA is forecasting between 13 and 19 named storms, six to 10 of which could become hurricanes (compared to the average six). Three to six of those hurricanes could develop into major hurricanes — category 3, 4, or 5 storms with winds of 111 miles per hour or higher. The average season sees three major hurricanes.
According to the forecast, there’s a 60 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season, a 30 percent chance of an average season, and a mere 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.
Prior forecasts unaffiliated with NOAA predict a similarly damaging Atlantic hurricane season ahead.
“NOAA’s analysis of current and seasonal atmospheric conditions reveals a recipe for an active Atlantic hurricane season this year,” Neil Jacobs, acting NOAA administrator, said in a statement.
‘We will not be complacent this season’- Premier
Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1), has said the Territory “will not be complacent this season” and that it will all do its part to be ready for the unknown.
“Whether we like it or not, we may face many tests all at the same time. We do not get to pick a single battle in 2020. We have to ready and steady ourselves for keeping COVID-19 at bay; rebooting, re-energising, and reawakening our economy; and whatever the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season throws at us,” Premier Fahie said in a statement on May 13, 2020.
“I have not even mentioned the seismic activity that has been affecting our area recently, nor the reports of drought from some in our region. But, as a people, we will not fear, for God, Abba Father, is with us,” he added.
The Premier assured that Government has been doing its part to ‘Be Ready’ for the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
“I am immensely grateful for the continued support of many teams in the Ministries, Departments, and Statutory Bodies of Government that continue to work together. Throughout the Public Service, the officers who carry out the day-to-day business of you the people have been updating their plans and procedures so that they are prepared to face the multiple hazards that we may encounter, including tropical storms or hurricanes. The team at the Public Works Department is carrying out ghut clearing. Around the Territory, including on the Sister Islands, we are inspecting potential shelters.”
Honourable Fahie also encouraged and reminded the private sector businesses that while they operate in this ‘New Regular’ with COVID-19, they also should remain in a heightened state of preparedness for the upcoming season.
“Yes, the COVID-19 outbreak remains active. The hurricane season is expected to be active. But none of them is more active than God.”