Hurricane Season... It's Here! What You Need to Know!
Our “islands in the sun” are no strangers to hurricanes. While God has truly immeasurably blessed our sunny clime, one thing we cannot escape are the ravages of tropical cyclones.
Many believe that they’re God’s way of punishing us when we stray too far from Him. Whether you believe that or that they’re random weather phenomena that hit The Bahamas due to our location and other geographic influences, one thing we must all believe is that there will be a strike every year. The storm may be a category one, which is the weakest on the Saffir-Simpson scale used to measure hurricanes, or a category five; the strongest. The storm may hit the extreme north-western Bahamas or the south-eastern Bahamas, but it will hit.
Last year we saw the devastating effects that Hurricane Matthew had on The Bahamas, especially in New Providence, North Andros & Grand Bahama. The previous year, we saw the path of destruction left after the passing of Hurricane Joaquin.
While we may not be able to stop the complete destruction, there are ways to curb it. There are also ways to prevent yourself from being without after the all clear is given.
Here’s what you need to know:
The official hurricane seasons starts every year on June 1st & lasts until November 30th. Though, a storm can form any time of the year, as we’ve had our first named storm, Arlene, since April of this year.
Your island does not have to be in the “cone” for there to be devastating effects. The cone only shows where the eye may be at that given point, but storms can be hundreds of miles wide.
If a mandatory evacuation is given, your area is unsafe and you shouldn’t “ride out the storm” there. If the worst happens to you, people then have to risk their lives to rescue you & anybody else that ignored the warnings simply because you felt as if your home 0.2 feet from the shore was safer than the designated hurricane shelter perched on top of the highest hill on your respective island.
Tropical cyclones are, at times, unpredictable. Just as hurricanes switch paths and avoid The Bahamas at the last minute, they can rapidly strengthen and/or make a direct hit at the last minute. (Remember Joaquin?)
Here's what you can do to be ready:
Stock up. You don’t have to wait until the threat of a storm exists to have the essential food items. During hurricane season, I typically pick up an extra of everything, even if it’s just one extra. This helps you avoid the madhouses that grocery stores become when a storm is threatening the islands.
Ensure that you have plywood or metal shutters. Don’t put yourself in the position to wait on a line for hours only to find out that the person in front of you got the last pieces of wood. (Tip: Painting your plywood aids in protecting them from the elements and helps to make them last longer.)
Locate the hurricane shelter(s) (click here for a list of shelters as of 2016) closest to your home or neighbourhood.You may be in a “safe” neighbourhood, but as long as a tropical cyclone threatens your island, your home can become compromised. In the event that this happens, it’s best to already have a plan in place as opposed to thinking about it while the storm beats down on you.
If a storm hits & hits hard, the power is going to be out (& sometimes for weeks). Car chargers, portable chargers & power inverters will be your best friends. Invest in them! You can find them at good prices online and they’re things that can be used all year round and not just limited to the aftermath of a hurricane.
Track the storm! This is crucial. Whenever a storm is developing or traveling, even if you just look it up online, make sure you know where it is until it dissipates. As long as it has a name, it is a threat! I love Weather Underground. They have an easy to read map and also post full storm updates.
Hurricanes are no joke. From Donna all the way back in 1960 to Matthew just last year. They’ve caused severe damage throughout our islands; from Grand Bahama in the north to Turks & Caicos in the south (because they’re just another family island). I’ve experienced, Floyd, Francis, Jeanne, Wilma, Sandy & Matthew; some of the worst in Bahamian history. They should never be taken lightly because the one storm you think won’t do any damage, will cost you everything.
I want to hear about your storm experiences. Tell me about the storm that had you most frightened. The king speaks, but he listens too!