Despite it being just under a month out, a group of leading meteorologists is predicting 13 named storms during the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, said Wayne “Mr. Hurricane” Neely, a forecaster at the Bahamas Department of Meteorology.
That’s a relatively small number of storms compared to some of the more active hurricane seasons, but Neely warned Bahamians not to let their guard down.
Of the 13 named storms, five are expected to become hurricanes and two to reach major hurricane strength of between Category 3 and Category 5.
However, Neely, author of 13 books on hurricanes, said this season is being categorized as a slightly below normal season.
The main reason for this classification, he said, is due to slightly below normal sea surface temperatures which is an inhibiting factor.
Despite what some might interpret as positive news, Neely said he’s always hesitant with these types of predictions because he said he notices that it encourages a lax attitude.
“Saying all of this, I’m very skeptical when I tell people we’re going for a slightly below normal hurricane season because when you talk about hurricanes, we only need one hurricane to cause major destruction to The Bahamas, to be devastating to The Bahamas,” Neely said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
He recalled Category 5 Hurricane Andrew, 1992 – the lone hurricane of a seven storm season which caused 25 deaths and $26.5 billion in damage in the United States, and three deaths and $250 million in damage in The Bahamas.
Additionally, he referenced the hurricane season of 1995 which had 19 named storms, none of which caused any significant damage to The Bahamas.
Neely said he cautions the public to “never let your guard down”.
“We should prepare as if every season we’re going to have a devastating hurricane,” he said.
Although The Bahamas had a quiet hurricane season last year, the previous year was not so peaceful.
Back in 2017, The Bahamas saw two catastrophic hurricanes during the June 1 to November 30 season, one of which tore Ragged Island apart. The small southern island remains in ruins to this day.
Neely said although the season is still a month out, Bahamians should begin making preparations.
“My suggestion [is] you should start the process of documenting what you have in your home,” he said.
“You should start cleaning branches around trees.
“One thing that people don’t think about is hurricane insurance.
“You should make sure that your insurances are up to date at least when it comes to hurricane insurance.”
He added that life, property and marine insurance are also of critical importance, along with the creation of a hurricane plan that suits your family.
Asked when we could expect an uptick in storm activity, Neely said that factor is unpredictable but it could happen as early as this month.
Education: Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) 3rd Year