BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 19th June 2020) – Citizens and residents of St.Kitts-Nevis are being urged to be mindful of COVID-19 health guidelines amidst the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season that is predicted to be above normal with at least six major storms.

The National Disaster Coordinator at the National Emergency Management Agency Abdias Samuel who is also the Chairman of the COVID-19 National Task Force, during an address to the nation expressed such sentiments in observance of the start of the hurricane season  which runs from June 1st to November 30th yearly.

“As we focus our attention on the preparedness measures for the hurricane season, it remains critically important that we also remember that we are still amidst the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. Social and physical distancing, hygiene protocols and health guidelines to keep you safe from COVID-19 must be taken into consideration  and will impact your preparedness plans  including what is in your go-kits, evacuation routes, shelters and more,” he said.

According to him, theSt.Kitts Metrological Services, who is the competent weather authority located at the RLB International Airport, has indicated that we can expect an above normal 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

“The outlook predicts a sixty per cent chance of an above normal season, a 30 per cent chance of a new normal season and only a 10 per cent chance of a below normal season.”

Samuel added: “The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from the first of June to the 30th of November. According to the forecast, it is predicted that there is likely to be between 13 to 19 named storms of which six to ten could become hurricanes including three to six major hurricanes.

He said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, otherwise known as NOAA, provides these ranges with a 70 percent confidence ratio.

An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms of which six are likely to become hurricanes including three major hurricanes.

Samuel told citizens and residents that given the above normal outlook for this hurricane season, it is vital that everyone in this Federation of St.Kitts and Nevis takes the precautionary measures and become prepared.

“As we enter the hurricane season, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), continues to strengthen its public education and awareness campaigns, mitigation and preparedness measures. As we embrace the mandate of the Caribbean Disaster management Agency (CEDEMA), our parent organisation, the regional intergovernmental agency for disaster management in CARICOM which is based on Barbados, we fully embrace the principles and practices of Comprehensive Disaster Management otherwise known as CDM.”

He explained that CDM is an integrated and proactive approach to disaster management and it seeks to reduce the risk and loss associated with national and technological hazards and the effects of climate change to enhance regional sustainable development.

Additionally, the NEMA official called on everyone to reflect on three past major hurricanes- Irma, Maria and Dorian.

“Let the 2017 experience of Irma and Maria and of course 2019 Dorian, an extremely powerful category 5 hurricane which devastated countries in the Caribbean region and also impacted the United States of America … serve as a reminder of how dynamic the weather can be and predications can change, however we must be ready, and this allows us to build resilience as a people.”

“We all have a role to play in doing so, and this must be of high priority at this time. Citizens and residents, it only takes one hurricane to change lives, livelihoods and communities. According to the scientists, hurricanes are the most powerful storms with high winds and torrential rain falls that can last for several hours and up to days and have the potential to cause injury, widespread property damage and by extension, can also cause the loss of many lives,” he advised.