Kingston -- The Caribbean will experience an above-average 2013 hurricane season this year, according to the latest prediction by the Colorado State University hurricane forecast team, released on July 3.
This is in line with the predictions issued by other major hurricane research centres for the June 1 to November 30 Atlantic Hurricane Season, said Chris Hind, General Manager of JN General Insurance Company (JNGI). He stated that more attention should to be paid to such predictions, in light of the destruction wrought in eastern Jamaica when Hurricane Sandy struck the island last October.
"We in Jamaica took a direct hit from Sandy in 2012," Mr. Hind said. "A direct strike normally has a more devastating effect than when the hurricane tracks close to us."
He pointed out that Hurricane Sandy, a Category 1 hurricane when it struck the island, was responsible for loss of life, blew off roofs, and disrupted electricity, with agricultural products taking many months to recover. The hurricane then tore a path of destruction through Haiti, Cuba, and The Bahamas, before making landfall in the United States northeast.
The University of Colorado team, led by Dr. William Gray, predicted that for 2013, there will be 18 named storms overall, with nine of those expected to become hurricanes. They project four of the hurricanes to take on massive proportions, with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.
For the Caribbean specifically, there is a 77 percent probability of a Category 1-2 hurricane, which is much higher than the 57 percent historic average. The probability of a more powerful hurricane ranging between Categories 3-5, is 61 percent, against the 42 percent historic average.
"Predictions are helpful guides as to what may occur, and they should be treated with that clear understanding," Mr. Hind said. He noted that the 2012 predictions had generally been for an average hurricane season, yet Hurricane Sandy, which reached Category 3 at its peak, as it impacted the US East coast, caused economic damage which is expected to exceed US$100 billion, with nearly 200 fatalities internationally, making it one of the most destructive tropical hurricanes on record.
"Ultimately, it doesn't matter to you whether a hurricane is at Category 1 or Category 3, if it ends up taking off the roof of your home or business," Mr. Hind stated. "Pay attention to warnings, and make an effort to prepare for these crises, which are a fact of life in our region."