The hurricane season is set to officially begin on Wednesday and is predicted to be unusually strong this year. The country’s weather agency Onamet is urging the population to be prepared for potentially catastrophic hurricanes over the summer season.
With forecasts indicating a highly active hurricane season this summer, the Dominican Republic is being told to prepare itself for possible weather-related disruptions. The Caribbean island is especially prone to damage from powerful tropical storms due to the route that these storms usually travel through.
Gloria Ceballos, head of the Dominican weather agency Onamet, recently told the population to be prepared for the highly active hurricane season. The main reason behind the forecasted storms is a phenomenon known as La Nina, which creates the perfect conditions for tropical cyclones to form and strengthen. As a result, the whole country could potentially see destructive storms causing damage to households and infrastructure.
Earlier this year, several meteorological services including the U.S-based Accuweather issued their long-term forecasts for the upcoming hurricane season. They were forecasting up to 20 tropical storms and up to 9 hurricanes, with several reaching the strongest category. Now, with more accurate forecasts for the hurricane season becoming available, things don’t look any better.
In past instances, hurricanes in the Dominican Republic have wreaked havoc on residents and destroyed homes. Last year, hurricane Elsa caused massive waves and resulted in at least two deaths. Residents in areas known to be especially affected by hurricanes should have sufficient stocks of medical and emergency supplies. As La Nina continues to warm the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Dominican Republic is continuously monitoring the progress of the hurricane season.
The Dominican Republic’s location within the Caribbean means that it is likely to be hit at some point by a strong hurricane. Moreover, most tropical storms follow a route that goes right through the island, which makes it especially important that residents and tourists take precautions.
Gloria Ceballos said that “in a normal year we would see around 14 named tropical storms; however, this year we expect anywhere from 14 to 21 named storms, from which between six and ten could reach the hurricane category. Overall, around three are forecast to become intense or severe hurricanes”. This is in line with other meteorological agencies as well as several universities which have issued similar forecasts.
Last year, the Dominican Republic witnessed a total of 21 tropical storms over the course of the season. However, despite a large number of storms, not all of them hit the island directly. Even so, the weather service highlights the importance of adequate preparation.
Meteorologists will be paying close attention to the La Nina weather phenomenon, which aids in the creation of powerful storms. 2017 was the time that La Nina was especially prominent in the Dominican Republic, leading to unusually strong and active hurricanes. That year saw storms such as Irma and Maria, which resulted in widespread damage to the island’s infrastructure.
Aside from issues such as insecurity or inflation, weather-related phenomena including hurricanes are one of the major risks facing travelers and resorts in the Caribbean. According to the international hotel firm AMR, hurricanes can interrupt travel plans across the region.
As the Dominican Republic inches closer to the beginning of the hurricane season, some experts are calling for more weather radars to be installed in the country. Currently, the country doesn’t have access to an early warning system, they say, and more radars could help predict and map hurricanes more accurately. Meanwhile, visitors headed to the Caribbean island should routinely check the hurricane forecast for possible storms and plan accordingly. The hurricane season lasts until the 30th of November.
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