Hurricane specialists to visit Jamaica

Thursday, April 26, 2018

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A team of United States (US)-based meteorologists and hurricane specialists is expected in Jamaica tomorrow, as part of a public education and outreach campaign to boost awareness about tropical storms and hurricanes and to encourage preparedness.

The tour is part of a Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour (CHAT) by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) aimed at improving the preparedness and resilience of communities within the Caribbean to tropical storms and hurricanes.

CHAT will make its stop at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James. Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica Evan Thompson told JIS News that the tour will be beneficial to stakeholders in the local sector as well as the general public.

“What we want to promote is preparedness, to let people recognise what is happening in the hurricane season in relation to how vulnerable Jamaica is. This will give persons the opportunity to ask questions, so they can find out about past seasons and assess the changes taking place as we go forward. Having this type of interaction with the specialists will lead to more public awareness and understanding,” he said.

The group will host a press conference, after which the US hurricane specialists and US military air crew will facilitate access by students, media, community groups and other members of the public aboard their Air Force Reserve Command WC-130J 'Hurricane Hunter'.

During hurricanes, US military air crews fly these types of aircraft directly into the core of tropical cyclones to gather data that are critical for forecasting a hurricane's intensity and direction.

“So, CHAT is really to draw public attention and education on the tropical cyclones that could impact them during the hurricane season and to spread the message of preparedness and whatever can be done in terms of mitigation,” Thompson said.

Jamaica is the only English-speaking country on the 2018 staging of the CHAT. The other countries to be visited are Mexico, Panama and Puerto Rico.

The tour is being facilitated by the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, in collaboration with MBJ Airports Ltd, operators of Sangster International Airport, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

The last CHAT to Jamaica was in 2001 and was hosted at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

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