The Jacoway Inn, Dominica : Storming Back To Business
The deep blue Atlantic Ocean gleams under a hot Caribbean sun. The cool, sweet tradewinds blow a cleansing breeze into the beachfront mainstreet of Calibishie adding to the recuperative sense of regeneration found throughout the lower village and the surrounding community in the hills behind.
Tropical Storm Chantal formed over the central tropical Atlantic on Sunday night, July 7, 2013. This triggered Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings for Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique and Guadeloupe and otherislands in the Windwards and Leewards. Haiti and the Dominica Republic were put on Hurricane Watch status.
The North Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico make up the Atlantic Hurricane region which has seen an increase in hurricane activity since 1995. Eight of the last 15 hurricane seasons rank in the top 10 for the most named storms within a season. 2005 tops the list with 28 named storms.
Hurricane preparedness is of utmost importance to the safety of all who live within this region. For more on Hurricane Preparedness and up to date tropical storm and hurricane news throughout the season please follow us on Facebook.
Hurricane season is fast approaching. For those who live in or plan to travel to the Caribbean this can be dangerous time. Despite the danger, life must go on and the key to staying safe is being aware and prepared.
With this in mind, we at Caribbean Land & Property will be doing our best to both get you prepared before hurricane season officially begins, and keep you informed on the weather happenings in the Caribbean throughout the season. To do this we will be posting a series of blogs on hurricane awareness and preparedness. Once hurricane season starts we will be periodically posting blogs on weather conditions in the Caribbean and other pertinent information. We will also be posting regular weather updates on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
To kick off our hurricane preparedness we will answer one of the most asked questions, especially by travelers:
When is hurricane season in the Caribbean?
The official hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Caribbean, officially starts on June 1 and ends on November 30.
According to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory Hurricane Research Division the peaked season is from August to October with:
78% of the tropical storm days,
87% of the minor (Saffir-Simpson Scale categories 1 and 2) hurricane days
96% of the major (Saffir-Simpson categories 3, 4 and 5) hurricane days
Maximum tropical storm activity is usually in early to mid-September. However these dates are not set in stone as far as storm activity. While 97% of tropical storm activity occurs within the June-November timeline, it is possible for “out of season” storms to occur, usually in May or December.
To get up to date Caribbean Weather Information follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
With hurricane season now upon us it is time to begin preparations. In my lifestyles blog I wrote about some of the essential and ecological preparations we can make for stocking up on supplies. Now I want to make a few suggestions about how to protect the structure of our home because if that is damaged it matters little if we have a supply of food, good first aid kit or a wind-up radio! I just saw an animation on the damage various categories of hurricanes can do to a home and it’s fairly scary so let’s get prepared!If you can afford to do it, now is the time to employ a structural surveyor who can assess your home for any weak points. A comprehensive document on retrofitting your home is available online and offers some very practical advice for you to conduct your own home survey. Do fix up any recommended areas as soon as possible.
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Definitely check your roofing! If your roof is damaged or flies off in a hurricane the rest of your home and possessions do not stand much of a chance. Many businesses are offering discounts and special offers on roofing supplies at this time so take advantage of the promotions.
Many people decide to put up shutters or boards over their windows. This can be a crucial line of defense as if wind gets inside through a broken window the interior will be damaged and the roof is much more susceptible to being blown away. As I’m sure you can imagine, shattered and flying glass is also a huge hazard! Check out the pro’s and cons of various shutters and decide which ones you need to invest in.Trees are fantastic providers of shade and beautiful scenery but in a hurricane they can be a deadly source of destruction. Inspect your trees and carefully remove any damaged branches and any large ones that are overhanging your house. Trim trees that are near or overhanging electrical or phone wires and look for damage to the tree trunks as it may be best to remove these trees all together. Remember also to trim back your shrubs too as these are likely to break and fly about during a large storm. When planting, remember not to plant trees too close to your home, especially those with wide, shallow roots that will likely take down some of your infrastructure if they fall.
Bring inside any outdoor items such as furniture, decorations and garbage bins. Basically if it’s not tied down, secure it! Do an inventory of your possessions and keep anything precious in tightly sealed waterproof containers. Cover what you can with tarpaulin in case of minor leaks.
When building a new home consult with experts to ensure that the design features take into consideration your susceptibility to hurricanes. The most hurricane resistant shape is a dome so if you are really smack in the middle of a hurricane zone you may want to consider doing something very different from the norm and build a circular home!
I’m wishing you a very safe and uneventful hurricane season. Please feel free to share any additional hurricane-proofing tips with us at Caribbean Land and Property.
Disaster preparations offices all over the region advise us to stock up on spare batteries to operate radios and flashlights so that we can hear the news and find our way around in the dark.
Electricity is Turned Off in a Hurricane
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Whilst this is all well and good in the short term, batteries come with a whole set of other ecological and health problems that we may want to avoid. Most batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel that leach into our soil and water. If incinerated the metals within the batteries can be released into the air and concentrate in the ash. The effects of these heavy metals on human and environmental health are well documented and diverse. They include damage to the brain and central nervous system, organ dysfunction and cancers in humans; and devastation of aquatic and forest ecosystems.
Many larger nations offer recycling schemes to dispose of batteries but in small Caribbean islands the only option is often the landfill so as much as we can steer clear of batteries the better!
Thankfully a whole wave of smarter eco-technology is paving the way for us to be battery free and still have our necessary items for hurricane preparations. The wind-up radio, first invented in 1993 by Trevor Baylis to help disseminate health information rural communities in Africa can assist us in getting all the news we need during storm time. Other wind-up items include wind-up flashlights and an eco version of the i-pod, which allows you to store 500 songs in mp3 format and get 40 minutes of playtime with a minute of winding. It can also charge your cell phone! These items may cost a little more at the outset but can make considerable savings in long term and are much better for us.
Of course these technologies can be used well beyond an emergency situation. My most coveted household eco-appliance is a hand powered blender!
June 1st was the official start of the hurricane season for the Caribbean and typically we start to become much more interested in the weather reports at this time. No longer is it enough to know if the forecast is rain or sun – we want to know where the next tropical storm is brewing, what is the barometric pressure for the day and what name the next hurricane is going to have.
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Hurricanes are an inevitable if unfortunate part of living in paradise. There’s not much we can do about them sugar baby headlines although it is a contentious issue as to whether the amount and the strength of hurricanes is increasing due to climate change. Whatever their causes, many Caribbean islands have been badly hit in recent years and none of us can afford to be complacent during the season.
Two of the best things to do around hurricane season is to be prepared by stocking up on essential items and making sure your home good condition to withstand a storm. For now let’s focus on the essentials required…Water – (up to 1 gallon per person for 3-7 days) It is a good idea to have both a stock of bottled drinking water and some larger containers of water filled up for washing and flushing toilets. Food – non-perishable canned and dried items are recommended. Remember that it’s no good stocking up the freezer as the electric supply may go! A full gas cylinder for the stove should be bought as a standby and an alternative source of cooking such as a coal pot is also useful. Medications – have enough supply of prescription medications to last a few weeks and a well-stocked first-aid kit for minor medical treatments.
It’s also a very good idea to have: the fuel tank filled up; enough toiletries to last a while; a decent tool kit available; cash and credit cards; and its crucial to place your vital documentation such as birth certificates, drivers license, passports etc in a sealable waterproof package.
Many of the guidelines also recommend getting stocked up with lots of batteries for electrical items – mainly torch lights and radio sets. This obviously makes a lot of sense as one of the first things to usually go in any natural disaster is the electricity supply and even off the grid systems are subject to damage from high winds or flooding. In an effort to be more eco-friendly and sustainable I’m researching alternatives to battery appliances. I’ll keep you posted on my results. In the meantime, don’t delay, get shopping for the items above!