The 2020 hurricane season commences on 1 June forcing the Territory to juggle COVID-19 prevention with disaster preparedness. In anticipation of the active season and the threat of the virus, plans are being made to secure additional shelters to ensure that social distancing can be maintained in the case of a disaster.
In noting the altered preparation, His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert during a press briefing on 21 May mentioned that efforts are being made to prepare for this season with the COVID-19 precautions in mind. Governor Jaspert told the media, “That is part of the consideration… It’s being worked through now to look at our shelter capacity across all of the islands as well to map out the capacity that would be different under a COVID-19 scenario, to make adaptations where we can, including things like hygiene and washing facilities.”
In noting the unusual extent of the preparation the Governor said, “Essentially, we check off each of our key parts of the response, so each of the major frontline response agencies — are they ready? We look at our communication systems, we have all of our sirens rebuilt across the territory already, our contingency supplies and stocks put out.”
He further stated that the United Kingdom government is also assisting in disaster preparation. “We are also linking up with the United Kingdom who have put extra resources into the region this year. I have mentioned those: RFA Argus which is the naval ship, there is also another ship called HMS Medway, it includes helicopters as well,” the Queen’s Representative pointed out.
The Department of Disaster Management predicted that this hurricane season will be above normal. In fact, the DDM stated that the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration climate researchers predicted 70 percent chance that this season will bring 13 to 19 named storms (those with winds of 39 mph or higher); and that six to 10 of those could become hurricanes (having winds of 74 mph or higher). Three to six of those are predicted to be major hurricanes of category 3, 4, or 5 (with winds of 111 mph or higher.
It is predicted that the 2020 hurricane season has a 60 percent chance of being an above-normal season, and a 30 percent chance of a being a near-normal season and only a 10 percent chance of a below-normal season.