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Prime Minister’s Address to Commemorate the Start of the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Published 1 June 2024

St Kitts, Basseterre,

Buckie Got It Media Source

National Address by the Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis

The Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew

to Commemorate the Start of the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season

My fellow citizens and residents,

As we stand on the threshold of the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season, beginning today, June 1st, I address you with a message of urgency and preparedness. This year, we face an unprecedented challenge that demands our collective attention and readiness.

The two foremost institutions for weather forecasting, Colorado State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have both issued stark predictions about the severity of this hurricane season. According to the NOAA National Weather Service forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center, there is an 85% chance that this season will be above normal, with only a 10% chance of being near normal, and a mere 5% chance of being below normal.

NOAA’s outlook for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, which spans from June 1 to November 30, is alarming. They forecast a range of 17 to 25 named storms, with winds of 39 mph or higher. Of these, 8 to 13 are expected to become hurricanes, with winds of 74 mph or higher, including 4 to 7 major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 or higher with winds of 111 mph or greater. Forecasters have 70% confidence in these ranges, underscoring the seriousness of the situation. Similarly, Colorado State University’s hurricane researchers also predicted an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season.

This season bears the characteristics of some of the most intense years on record, including 1878, 1926, 1998, 2010, and 2020. These comparisons are a stark reminder of the potential devastation we may face.

One of the significant factors contributing to this increase in hurricane intensity and frequency is climate change. The record warm sea surface temperatures are a direct result of our changing climate, creating more favourable conditions for the development of powerful storms. The science is clear: as temperature rises

around the world, so too does the potential for more severe and destructive hurricanes.

We cannot ignore the reality that climate change is not a distant threat but a present danger, influencing our weather patterns and increasing the frequency and intensity of storms and hurricanes each year. The impacts are already being felt, and we must take this seriously.

Nevertheless, while the predictions and forecasting capabilities of experts have improved over time, they cannot control where a hurricane will strike. This information serves merely as guidance to help us adequately prepare and minimize the loss of life and property.

In light of these predictions, I urge all citizens to prepare diligently. Ensure that you have an emergency plan in place, and if you do not please contact the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for guidance and assistance. Stock up on essential supplies, ensure that your property is secured and insured, and stay informed through reliable sources of weather updates, such as the local Met Service and the local disaster management offices. Our emergency services are ready to respond, but individual preparedness is crucial to minimize risks and ensure safety.

Your Government has already convened national stakeholder engagements and established the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Board of Directors to give support to the national disaster management offices on readiness activities to respond effectively to the impacts of any tropical cyclone. Our national subcommittees have been meeting and carrying out activities to prepare the nation’s infrastructure, ensure our social programmes are adequate, and our environmental conditions are resilient against the impact of these potential cyclones. These activities include clearing waterways better known as ghauts, our drainage networks, and ensuring that emergency shelters are in a habitable state.

The Nevis Island Administration, through the Nevis Disaster Management Department, has also indicated their state of readiness for this upcoming season with similar activities being mirrored on Nevis. Our district volunteers, both on Saint Kitts and Nevis, have been working tirelessly hard to ensure that the communities in which they serve are prepared for any potential impact.

Some of our critical sectors such as healthcare, tourism, agriculture, telecommunications, and utilities, among many other sectors, are continuously working to ensure that remain in a state of readiness to respond to and recover from any eventuality.

Our food service suppliers and distributors have assured us that they have an adequate stock of food supplies to sustain us throughout the hurricane season. Additionally, our air and sea ports are continually enhancing their resilience against the threats and risks associated with cyclonic hazards. The port authorities in both Saint Kitts and Nevis have expressed confidence in their operation’s ability to weather the storm and contingencies are in place to support ongoing operations.

We continue to strengthen our partnerships with local, regional, and international bodies. Regional organizations such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), a regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stand ready to extend their support in the event of an emergency. In fact, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will be hosting the Annual Hurricane Press Conference on Tuesday, June 4th, 2024, at 10:00 am. This press conference is strategically scheduled ahead of the major Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Conference projected for December of this year here in Saint Kitts and Nevis, which will bring over 400 disaster management practitioners and stakeholders from around the world.

International organizations, including the United Nations, as well as the governments of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, have pledged their assistance to the Federation in the event of a crisis. Similarly, our St. Kitts and Nevis Red Cross Society has committed to providing support should the Federation be adversely affected.

I urge the private sector to continue doing its part in this collective effort to prepare its membership to support the national efforts in preparing for and responding to the effects of hurricane impacts. The Government’s all-of-society approach ensures that the most vulnerable among us are included in the nation’s preparedness activities, ensuring that no one is left behind. Your Government’s goal is to protect every citizen and resident in the Federation.

I wish to appeal, once more, to all citizens and residents to heed the warnings of the research organizations. The forecast has indicated an unprecedented 2024 Atlantic Hurricane season, well above normal and exceeding hurricane seasons’ forecasts over the past 40 years. Your Government pledges its full support to ensure that all necessary resources will be made available to our national disaster offices to maintain a state of readiness.

As a Godfearing nation, all faith-based and religious institutions in our Federation are therefore encouraged more than ever to join forces in seeking divine protection for our nation. Let us join hands and hearts in prayer for our nation.

By working together and preparing diligently with a sense of urgency, we can minimize the impact of these storms and ensure the safety and well-being of our communities.

We are a resilient nation, capable of facing challenges with strength. By preparing now, we can protect our families, our communities, and our country. Let us take the warnings seriously and act decisively.

Thank you, and may we all stay safe in the months ahead.

Click on the PDF Link below for access   

The address can be viewed viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNbkJrpNuRs

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