Forecasters say it could be an above average number of hurricanes this year, which prompted a clear warning from the Minister of National Security, Michael Weeks, not to “be caught off guard”.

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, the Minister said: “It only takes one storm to directly impact Bermuda to cause major disruptions to our daily lives and stability.”

Now that the 2024 Hurricane Season is officially underway, he urged the public to use the time now, “to make sure that proper preparations for hurricane season are made”.

The hurricane season started on June 1 and runs through to November 30.

This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre says there is an 85 percent chance the hurricane season will be above normal, with 17 to 25 named storms.

“NOAA has predicted that eight to 13 of those storms will become hurricanes, including four to seven major hurricanes, category 3 or higher,” said Mr Weeks.

AccuWeather further cautions that increased sea temperature makes it more likely that hurricanes may develop rapidly.

“This means that storms have the potential to increase wind intensity by at least 35mph in 24 hours or less,” he said.

“This data is cause for concern and we all must be vigilant throughout the coming months.”

While noting that “Bermuda was spared any major hurricane damage” last year, he said: “There were several close calls, with several storms passing near the island.

“Hurricane Franklin was the first major storm of the year on August 30th, with Tropical Storm Idalia following closely behind on September 4th.

“Fortunately for us, Idalia did not make a direct hit, but was the most impactful storm of the season causing more than 3000 homes to lose power.

“The only other significant storm to threaten us during the season was Hurricane Lee on September 15.”

While noting that June is Hurricane Preparedness Month, the Minister said he “will convene the executive of the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) for its annual hurricane readiness meeting”, on Monday.

“The purpose of that meeting will be to assess the Government’s readiness for hurricane season, and to advance our preparations,” said Mr Weeks.

“Over the course of the month, the Ministry of National Security’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Team (DRRM) will coordinate activities to re-familiarize relevant staff and stakeholders with the Emergency Measures Organisation Operations Centre.

“Staff training and equipment and connection testing for the Emergency Broadcast Facility will also be conducted during the month of June,” he added.

Urging residents to “use the time during Hurricane Preparedness Month to prepare for the peak of hurricane season, which is typically from mid-August through October”.

“It is not too soon to start preparations,” he said.

“Families should meet to discuss their hurricane plans for the season.

“If there are any lessons learned from 2023, these should be included in updated plans.

“People should confirm that their property insurance is up to date, as well as create a hurricane supplies check list and ensure that the necessary items are on hand.

“We should include a two-week supply of medications and non-perishable food items to sustain members of the family for up to three days.

“In practical terms, it is also a good idea to include the household’s favorite games and books in your hurricane kit to stay occupied in the event of a storm.

“In true Bermudian spirit, I also encourage residents to check on their elderly or disabled neighbours to see if they require assistance in hurricane preparedness planning.”

Graphic by Flickr

The Emergency Broadcast Station is 100.1 FM, which “is live now”, he added.

Residents were advised to “tune in periodically to become familiarized with its broadcast”.

“Other official hurricane update sources are the Government of Bermuda and the Bermuda Weather Service’s Facebook pages, and local radio and television stations; however, these may not be accessible during power outages,” said the Minister.

“As such, a portable radio, with spare batteries, should be included in hurricane kits so that residents are able to access the Emergency Broadcast Station 100.1 FM for important messaging and updates during a storm.”

In closing, he said: “Bermuda has successfully weathered many active hurricane seasons – pun intended.

“This might induce a false sense of security amongst the public and cause us to become complacent.

“I urge each of us to not let our guard down and to remain safeguarded and prudent.

“I hasten to reiterate my earlier comment that predictions this year indicate that hurricanes will form faster than in previous years with very little warning.

“We must not be caught off-guard.

“It only takes one storm to directly impact Bermuda to cause major disruptions to our daily lives and stability,” said Mr Weeks.

“I urge the public to use the time now to make sure that proper preparations for Hurricane season are made. The more we are prepared, the less damage we are likely to sustain.

“It is well known that Bermuda and her people are resilient and very resourceful.

“I am confident that with early and adequate preparations, we will safely weather the 2024 Hurricane Season.”