Tropical Storm Nana's brush a timely reminder


Tropical Storm Nana's brush a timely reminder

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

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The slight brush on our eastern and southern coasts by the weather system that has now developed into Tropical Storm Nana is a stark reminder that we are still in the midst of what has been forecast to be an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

Admittedly, Jamaicans have been focused on the imminent general election and the effect that COVID-19 has been having on the country. While that is perfectly understandable, we cannot afford to drop our guard in relation to our preparedness for natural disasters.

Meteorologists told us yesterday that Tropical Storm Nana, which was located about 100 miles south of Jamaica, formed quickly in the Caribbean Sea, and is forecast to become a hurricane before making landfall in Central America.

While Jamaica escaped damage from Nana, we must remain alert to satellite images showing that a small area of low pressure has formed about midway between the Windward Islands and west Africa.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), upper-level winds in this low pressure system “are marginally conducive for some slow development this week as the system meanders in the central tropical Atlantic Ocean”.

The NOAA also reported that “a tropical wave is expected to emerge off the coast of Africa in about a day and merge with a disturbance centred about 200 miles south-east of the Cabo Verde Islands in a couple of days”.

Additionally, the weather experts forecast that gradual development of this system is possible, and it could become a tropical depression by this weekend while it moves slowly westward over the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Readers will recall that in May this year scientists at the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center forecast a 60 per cent chance of an above-normal hurricane season.

They also predicted a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes with winds of 74 miles per hour (mph) or higher, and three to six major hurricanes ranging from Category 3 to 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher.

This above-normal activity, the NOAA said, is a combination of several climate factors, among them El Nino southern oscillation conditions that are expected to either remain neutral or trend toward La Nina, “meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity”.

Additionally, said the NOAA, “Warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, coupled with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.”

We are aware that in the run-up to the this year's hurricane season the island's health authorities were putting systems in place to deal with the possibility of storm impact adding to the effects of COVID-19. We hope that those systems — which include the management of shelters — are being reviewed and upgraded where necessary, especially given the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

But all Jamaicans, we stress, must appreciate that preparedness is not a job only for the State. Therefore, in the two months remaining to the end of the Atlantic hurricane season, we urge all Jamaicans to ensure that they are equipped, as best as possible, to deal with any adversity that may befall us.

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