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Hurricane season ends today; Irma, Maria to be retired!

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola following Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017: The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be remembered for the many hurricanes it brought, most notably hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey. Photo: VINO
A British military helicopter bringing in relief supplies to Tortola days after Hurricane Irma devastated the Virgin Islands. Photo: VINO
A British military helicopter bringing in relief supplies to Tortola days after Hurricane Irma devastated the Virgin Islands. Photo: VINO
The damages caused by Hurricane Irma were significant. Photo: VINO
The damages caused by Hurricane Irma were significant. Photo: VINO
The Elmore Stoutt High School was badly damaged by Hurricane Irma. Photo: VINO
The Elmore Stoutt High School was badly damaged by Hurricane Irma. Photo: VINO
Vehicles destroyed by Hurricane Irma on the waterfront of Road Town, Tortola. Photo: VINO
Vehicles destroyed by Hurricane Irma on the waterfront of Road Town, Tortola. Photo: VINO
The work of the Tropical Wave of August 7-8, 2017. Photo: VINO
The work of the Tropical Wave of August 7-8, 2017. Photo: VINO
A section of the West End road on Tortola blocked by debris following the passage of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. Photo: VINO
A section of the West End road on Tortola blocked by debris following the passage of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season ends today, November 30, 2017, however, it will definitely go down in the Virgin Islands and other areas ravaged by hurricanes as one of the most unforgettable.

Unforgettable for the Virgin Islands because of what happened on September 6, 2017- Hurricane Irma- the monster storm that devastated the territory, leaving death, destruction, homelessness, looting and desperation in the streets for food and fuel.

It was described as the hurricane of all hurricanes and one that spared no one, damaging churches, businesses, and homes- from the pastor to the politician.

Today, November 30, 2017 will bring somewhat of a sigh of relief to many, although the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) has advised not to let the guards down completely just yet.

Tough year

The Virgin Islands experienced three unprecedented events in 2017, starting with the Tropical Wave impact on August 7 – 8, 2017 which brought an abrupt end to the August Monday Parade after dumping 14.78 inches of rain in 20.5 hours. The estimated damage from this single event is calculated at $7.7 million and resulted in over 400 homes being impacted and more than 40 businesses significantly affected, according to the DDM. It also caused major washouts on roadways and large landslides in some areas.

The most catastrophic event in the history of the VI will be recorded as the impact from Category 5 Hurricane Irma that wreaked havoc on the Territory on September 6, 2017 causing four deaths and widespread damage to roads, homes, ports, telecommunications, utilities, critical facilities such as clinics and schools, a massive field of debris, both on land and on sea and stripping the vegetation from the hillsides.

Although the rainfall amounts from Irma was not as significant, the sustained winds were the strongest ever to be recorded in the Atlantic at 185 miles per hour with much higher gusts. The turbulence created by the intense winds created tornadic conditions over many of the islands impacted and as a result, it is expected that the local wind gusts may have far exceeded the sustained wind speed.

Just two weeks later on September 19, 2017 Hurricane Maria, another category 5 system, passed 80 miles to the South-southeast of the Territory dumping approximately eight inches of rainfall and bringing with it, destructive storm surges that impacted many coastal areas especially on Tortola.

Low pressure hurricanes

Director of the Department of Disaster Management, Sharleen S. DaBreo said, “From a scientific perspective, the barometric pressure from both Irma and Maria were the lowest ever, recorded as 915 and 908 millibars respectively. This not only had an explosive impact on windows and doors but residents have spoken about the physiological effects that this low pressure caused.”

This year’s hurricane season has brought with it 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes. The 2017 season was the fifth highest recorded active season in the Atlantic based on records from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In addition, it produced the highest number of major hurricanes since 2005. It was the first time in 28 years that a major hurricane impacted the VI. Like Luis and Marilyn of 1995, Irma and Maria impacted the VI in a single season.

According to the DDM, the impacts from the unprecedented trio combined will result in the costliest year in terms of hazard impacts for the VI and the first time that deaths have resulted from the impact of hurricanes.

No more Irma!

The National Hurricane Centre will retire three hurricane names; Harvey, Irma and Maria due to the level of impact they caused to the Caribbean and United States mainland. If the damage estimates are correct then this Hurricane Season will be the costliest ever for the Caribbean and the United States.

According to Ms DaBreo, there are many lessons to be learnt from the devastation witnessed this year.

Lessons to be learnt

She said, “This hurricane season will change the way that the region plans for hurricanes and other climate related hazards. We have experienced relatively quiet years but this year brought with it, destruction never seen before in the BVI. With the experience of the unprecedented trio in 2017 and the 2003 and 2010 rain events as well as the changing weather patterns, we must ensure that we remain in a constant state of readiness year round.”

According to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach, who produces the annual hurricane predictions, “The storms this year were forced further west by a pretty strong subtropical high that prevented recurvature out to sea.”

This, the Director attributes as one reason why the VI was hit more than once this year with devastating hurricanes.

She added that, although the hurricane season officially ends today, residents are being asked not to let their guard down. Historical records have shown that tropical storms and hurricanes have occurred in December.

5 Responses to “Hurricane season ends today; Irma, Maria to be retired!”

  • jack (30/11/2017, 16:35) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    Irma was a bitch
  • unreal (30/11/2017, 18:28) Like (9) Dislike (4) Reply
    Cane Garden Bay is an absolute disaster. No leadership from the district rep.
    • . (30/11/2017, 21:28) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
      residents from every district should take leadership in this effort at the least your own street.
    • Hmmm... (01/12/2017, 10:29) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
      And the Pulitzer prize for best work of fiction goes to "Unreal". You obviously have an issue with the district rep, but he has been working for his entire district.
  • wize up (01/12/2017, 17:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    2017 will remain in our hearts and our heads for years (especially next hurricane season): not only did we experience extreme devastation this territory lost a number of pioneers,the persons who set about business development or those who thought some of us over the years in school: just keep the faith because God will always be good


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