VITEMA Director Mona Barnes continues to encourage the Virgin Islands community to prepare for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which officially begins today, June 1st, and ends Nov. 30th.
On Wednesday, May 27th, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center announced that the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be below-normal. NOAA is predicting a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including zero to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).
Despite these predictions, forecasters caution that a below-normal season can still produce catastrophic impacts to communities. During the 1992 Atlantic Hurricane Season, only seven named storms formed, yet the first was Andrew – a Category 5 Major Hurricane that devastated islands across the Caribbean and South Florida. NOAA will issue an updated outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season in early August, just prior to the historical peak of the season.
“Many of the worst hurricanes hit during a season that was forecasted to be below average, including in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit,” Barnes said. “We’re urging the public not to become complacent and to remain vigilant. Be aware and be prepared. Being prepared means that you and your family have an emergency supply kit of essential items for at least three days, that you and your family have planned what steps to take to stay safe and to remain in communication and that everyone knows where to get information if a storm is approaching the Territory.”
Barnes added that, in preparing, special consideration must be given to children and the elderly, as well as pets in the home.
“The better prepared you are, the easier it is for you to recover,” she said.
For information about preparing for the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, visit
www.Ready.gov or www.Listo.gov (Spanish language).
VITEMA is continuing its efforts to ensure the local government is ready to respond and recover during the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season. On May 20th, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with support from VITEMA, sponsored an executive-level seminar for Cabinet members. The seminar was conducted by a team nationally recognized homeland security experts from the Naval Post-Graduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
Department and agency officials met on St. Croix for the intensive half-day Executive Education Seminar, titled “Hurricane Response, Recovery and Resiliency.” During the seminar, officials discussed authorities, capabilities and concept of operations relevant to managing a major land-falling hurricane in the US Virgin Islands.
Additionally, last week Barnes along with the agency’s three Emergency Operations Center managers and section chiefs attended the US Army Corps of Engineers-South Atlantic Division’s 2015 Hurricane Rehearsal. The hurricane rehearsal was designed to give local emergency managers a clear understanding of US Army Corps of Engineers role in disaster response and recovery.
This month, Barnes is scheduled to tour FEMA’s Caribbean Distribution Center at Puerto Rico, which also services the US Virgin Islands. The 80,000-square-feet facility receives, ships, and recovers disaster commodities and equipment.