Earlier storms prompt Government to rethink hurricane preparation
Emergency co-ordinators are rethinking the way the island prepares for the hurricane season in response to the earlier arrival of storms.
Steve Cosham, National Disaster Co-ordinator, said last night that efforts to prepare members of the community for the start of the season often fell on deaf ears because people expected storms later in the season, which began on June 1.
However, he said the arrival of Tropical Storm Alex yesterday should act as a warning.
“We can use this storm as a springboard for earlier messaging in June to be better prepared for the season,” Mr Cosham told The Royal Gazette.
“When we tell the public we have Hurricane Preparedness Week, no one is listening because it is too early so we repeat the message in September when schools go back.
“We can shout but if people are not listening – that is the problem we have to solve. We need to be more dynamic in the way we communicate the message – we are looking at putting adverts on buses and other types of communication.”
The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is September and October for Bermuda with the next highest number of storms impacting in August, according to the Bermuda Weather Service. The last tropical storm to hit Bermuda in June was in 2012, while in 2014, Hurricane Cristobal impacted the island at the end of August.
Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, said during a press conference last night: “Bermuda, Tropical Storm Alex is a timely reminder that hurricane season is upon us and now is the time to makes sure that we are ready for what weather forecasters predict will be a very active few months.”
Mr Weeks confirmed that public schools would reopen for in-person learning today and all government offices and services would resume. Private schools also confirmed they would open as normal.
BWS said last night that the storm had passed and that maximum sustained winds of 58mph were recorded from the roof of the National Museum of Bermuda. The winds were recorded around the closest approach, which was about 115 miles north-northwest of the island between 9am and 10am.
LF Wade International Airport resumed service at 2pm yesterday. Three flights were cancelled in total.
The Department of Public Transportation confirmed that the bus services resumed as of 3.45pm yesterday.
The Pink route ferry service resumed at 3.45pm yesterday. The remainder of the ferry service will resume this morning on a normal weekday schedule.
The Norwegian Pearl which left before the storm arrived, will return to Bermuda this morning.
Some of the west end trash which is on the Monday schedule was collected yesterday, any outstanding backlog will be collected over the course of today.
Tyne’s Bay and Marsh Folly are open should residents wish to drop off their waste.
Mr Weeks said that one person sustained storm-related injury that was not life-threatening during clean-up efforts and was taken to the emergency room at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
Mr Weeks thanked the community for adhering to warnings and thanked all the emergency and essential services that worked throughout the storm.
He added: “One thing that we can say about any storm system is that it is unpredictable.
"The decisions we make are done to ensure the safety and the protection of our community, particularly our most vulnerable.
“And so, as the Minister of National Security, I would rather err on the side of caution than make any decision that could put any member of our community in danger or harm’s way."
Belco confirmed that the peak number of outages throughout the day was about 1,000 at 10am.
A Belco spokesman said: "Power was quickly restored to customers and by midday approximately 180 customers were without power.
"By 4.30pm, power had been restored to all but 30 customers and crews will continue working until all customers are restored."
Wayne Caines, the Belco president, added: “This storm demonstrated once again that trees and foliage hitting power lines are the number one reason for power outages during tropical storms and hurricanes.
“These outages are entirely preventable and I strongly encourage property owners to trim their trees at a minimum of ten feet away from power lines to prevent outages.”
Police confirmed that there were no major calls related to the storm. A spokesman for the Bermuda Police Service said a report was received at about 10.10am of a large tree that had fallen and blocked the road near the junction of Cambridge Road and Mangrove Bay Road, Sandys. The tree was later removed and traffic resumed.
The BWS reported that the US was sending hurricane hunter flight reconnaissance aircraft into TS Alex while it was approaching and near Bermuda.
It posted on its Facebook page: “It’s collaboration with our international partners that makes forecasting possible. A huge shout out to the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami, NOAA Corps, and USAF Reserve Hurricane Hunters.
“Thanks very much also to partners in the World Meteorological Organisation, for co-ordinating response activities through the regional hurricane operational plan; and international meteorological services for ongoing sharing of data and information in support of disaster risk reduction. Weather knows no borders.”