Hurricane Awareness Week Begins Today

May 28, 2012

Today [May 28] marks the beginning of Hurricane Awareness Week, and the Bermuda Weather Service [BWS] said members of the public and organizations are “encouraged to make preparations by dusting off their hurricane plans.”

The BWS, operated by BAS-Serco on behalf of the Department of Airport Operations, will be briefing Government stakeholders and “urging the public to hope & pray for the best, but to prepare for the worst.”

A statement from the BWS said, “In reviewing their state of readiness, the public should be particularly cognizant of the fact that 25 years ago this September, Bermuda was caught out by Category 1 Hurricane Emily, whose poorly forecast timing and strength allowed for only minimal levels of warning of an unprepared population.

“The low intensity classification of Emily did not reveal the tornadoes embedded within that circulation, which caused a high degree of damage.

“Some comfort could be derived from the fact that hurricane detection, monitoring and forecasting has improved substantially in the last 25 years, especially in the realm of track prediction.

“However, we are still faced with significant challenges in predicting the landfall regions of hurricanes on seasonal timescales, and Bermuda remains a small target in the shooting gallery of the Atlantic.

“Recent predictions for the 2012 hurricane season indicate a near-normal level of activity, when compared with that of the long term averages. However, this has no relevance when it comes to impacts to the small area which is Bermuda’s vulnerable coastline.

“Indeed, only last year, we saw Hurricane Ophelia a pass to the east of Bermuda with Category 4 intensity winds approximately 100 miles offshore. Although no damaging impacts were felt in Bermuda from Ophelia, this scenario demonstrates that small shifts in direction or speed of a hurricane can have a large impact on local conditions.

“The best efforts in meteorology are for nought when a population is complacent or unprepared. This Hurricane Season, the job of the Bermuda Weather Service is to try to prevent such surprises; it is your job to decide what action you should take in advance of, during, and after a storm.

“Everyone should reflect on the lessons learned from our past, so that even if a short-fused hurricane approaches us with little warning, we are prepared.

“It is important to note that two storms [Tropical Storms Alberto and Beryl] have formed already this year, before the hurricane season has already begun, both threatening the southeast coasts of the United States. It is never too early to ensure the appropriate level of readiness.

“For updates on the current conditions, forecasts, warnings and tropical advisories, please visit www.weather.bm, listen to 977, 9771, 9772 or 9773, view the Bermuda Weather Channel on WOW or CableVision or listen to Marine VHF Channel 2.”

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