Cayman to host annual regional hurricane meet

| 14/02/2011

(CNS): The Cayman Islands will be playing host to some of the region’s leading extreme weather experts next month when the 33rd session of the Regional Hurricane Committee is scheduled to take place in Grand Cayman. This year’s annual meeting will be hosted jointly by the World Meteorological Organisation and the Cayman Islands Government through the CI National Weather Service (CINWS) and more than 50 experts from North America, Central America and the Caribbean are expected to attend. Besides discussing preparations for the forthcoming hurricane season the weather delegates will also be selecting and retiring hurricane names for future seasons.

Alongside representatives from the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, a number of Tropical Cyclone research scientists as well as a delegation from the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva will be coming along to the meeting .

Fred Sambula, CINWS Director General, said that the purpose of this event, that takes place annually under the chairmanship of the Director of the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, is to enable regional experts to get together to review the region’s early warning technical and operational plans prior to the start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

“This entails looking at the capacities of the national weather services in countries within this hurricane belt and seeing how they can be assisted with improving their handling and regional coordination of hurricane watches and warnings in the coming season,” Sambula said.

He also explained that names will be reviewed to ensure ones that have been associated with destructive storms are taken off the potential lists. “If a hurricane has caused significant damage and or loss of life, that name is normally retired. This was so with Ivan, Paloma, Gilbert and likely Tomas this session, as have been other storms that brought devastation to this region,” he said.

During the conference there will be a Disaster Risk Reduction Workshop held on Monday, 7 March before the five-day meeting which is being held at the Ritz Carlton from the 7 until 12 March, begins. Chaired by Dr Maryam Golnaraghi, Chief of Disaster Risk Reduction at the WMO and entitled Strengthening Regional Cooperation to Support Forecasting with Multi-Hazard Approach, the workshop is aimed at national weather services, emergency management agencies as well as other organisations in government and private sector.

Sambula said that on Friday, 11 March it is hoped a half day workshop on Hurricane Preparedness and Business Continuity will also be scheduled. “This is aimed at assisting businesses to improve plans in order to minimise damage to life, property and the subsequent impact on the bottom-line. We will share sound mitigation and preparedness methods that will allow for quick recovery hence reduced time of interruption to business and other services at local and international levels,” he added.

In an official release from GIS, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly the government minister with responsibility for weather, who is currently in Spain at a telecoms conference, said she was pleased to host the meeting in the Cayman Islands. “Our local businesses and government services can benefit from the expertise which this gathering will bring,” she said. “Even though we are currently building our own capacity with the planned establishment of the weather radar, we are still keen to see what we can learn to strengthen our disaster risk reduction, as it relates to warning and watches,” she said.


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