Cedric J. Van Meerbeeck, the climatologist for the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and the Hydrology (CIMH), said we can expect a “slightly more active” hurricane season in the Caribbean this year, mainly due to climate change.
“We are faced with a variety of weather-related threats that can have hugely detrimental effects on human life, property, livelihoods, business, investment, and the environment,” said Kenneth Bryan, minister of tourism and ports for the Cayman Islands and chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).
MeerBeeck, Bryan, and other officials made these remarks during a recent CTO press conference addressing the upcoming hurricane season. Van Meerbeeck said we can expect the peak of the hurricane season to be from August to October, but stressed that specifically, September 10th could be an especially bad day for the Caribbean.
“Hydrometeorological and hydroclimatic events, such as tropical storms and hurricanes accompanied by strong winds, storm surges and floods represent the most frequently occurring hazards in the Caribbean,” said Bryan.
Meerbeeck said humid heat, heatwaves, marine heat waves, and temperatures can be possibly as hot as in 2016 and 2020. He said there will be heat stress, coral bleaching, and compound hazards, such as dangerous heat after devastating storms.
Tropical cyclone activity and intense rains are expected to peak from August through October/November., causing floods and cascading hazards, along with wind and storm surge impacts, compound hazards.
"But we also face very real impacts caused by global climate change ranging from dry spells and draughts, affecting our water supplies and resources, heat waves affecting the health of our tourism employees and visitors alike, rising sea levels, accelerating beach erosion and thereby increasing the vulnerability of tourism facilities many of which are located in low line coastal areas,’ said Bryan.
How is our climate going to respond in the coming months?
In November, expect an increase in rainfall and wet days, but a decrease in dry spells, said Meerbeeck. There will be generally high temperatures, but few heatwaves. There will be an increase in heat stress, especially during heatwaves, he said.
There will also be an increase in tropical cyclone activity. This means there is a high potential for flooding rains. There will also be a steady decrease in heat stress and a high potential for flooding rains, said Meerbeeck. In the Pacific, El Niño will very likely develop in the coming months.
“In the Caribbean context,” said Bryan, “managing risks from natural hazards and building a resilience toward climate change draw on the same practices predicated on saving lives, properties, and investments.”
But Bryan said that’s not all that needs to be done.
“Even more importantly,” said Bryan. “It warrants being proactive to implement the necessary actions to increase the resilience of our destinations and by extension the tourism sector through infrastructure improvements, investments in early warning systems, joint advocacy, effective communication, and media management.”