Hurricane's & Tropical Storms
What is a Hurricane?
Systems which form off the coast of west Africa travel across the Atlantic Ocean heading west. In the summer months when the waters are warm, this gives energy to the systems to form into Tropical Waves, Storms and sometimes Hurricanes.
The hurricane season in Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean is from June 1st to November 30th.
Dominica’s position, right in the middle of Hurricane Alley, ought to suggest that we get ravaged on a regular basis. Though the island has been devastated, most notably by Hurricane David in 1979, our ability to bounce back is due in part to bitter experience.
Video source: National Geographic
Preparation for a Hurricane
Before a Hurricane
- Have disaster supplies on hand – Try to ensure that there is a reserve of non perishable and/or tinned food as emergency rations in the home. Keep supplies of clean drinking water at hand, and that any open drinking water tanks are kept securely covered. Keep a flashlight, hurricane lamp filled with kerosene, and waterproof matches in your house together with simple first aid kit with any essential medicines along with bandages, eye lotions, iodine, plasters, absorbent lint, a portable radio with spare batteries, sturdy shoes/boots.
- Get extra food early in the season – so that you don’t have to rush at the last moment especially foods which can be eaten without cooking or require very little preparation.
- Be sure that emergency cooking facilities are in proper working order, procure a supply of kerosene, charcoal and if necessary gas tanks.
- See that there are adequate water and storage facilities such as drums, barrels, and tanks if possible.
- Keep emergency items ready at all times in one place which is easy to reach and known to the whole family.
- Secure and keep ready valuables and important documents , i.e.; passbooks, securities, cash etc.
- Make a thorough check up of your house: shelters, hooks, and latches. Ensure that all fasteners for outside doors and windows are in order. Wherever possible, windows should be reinforced with shutters and doors with bars.
- Keep on hand a supply of lumber for barring up purposes. Windows need to be protected, although permanent shutters are the best protection, plywood panels can work.
- Cut any overhanging tree or branches above houses
- Make sure that roof covering is properly fixed to the rafters. Roof sheetings must be properly fixed to supports, preferably with long drivers screws. Spaces between the roof and the supports should be sealed off during hurricane periods.
- For wooden houses – should be securely fixed to supports with their footings well into the ground. Houses should be protected against wood ants.
- Unblock all drains, gullies, or ravines for free flow of main water and reduce flooding.
- Know how and where to turn off your electricity, gas and water.
- Discuss disaster risks with your family and make advance arrangements to get in touch with all family members.
- Get to know the location of your shelter and evacuation routes before an emergency, and the best way to get there.
To learn more about Hurricane’s these sites contain a wealth of information
National Oceanic A A (NOAA) – About Hurricane’s
NASA SciJinks – How does a Hurricane Form?
Weather Wiz Kids – Understanding Hurricanes
Track the progress of Tropical Storms with:
- StormCarib – Caribbean’s Hurricane network
- Weather.com’s Hurricane page
- Accuweather’s Hurricane page
- Weather Underground’s Wundermap
- French West Indies Doppler Radar Map.
For more local information on the weather in Dominica visit Dominica’s Meteorological Office
Looking for tips on Disaster Preparedness?
- Natural Disaster & Emergency Preparedness
- Dominica Office of Disaster Management (ODM) – Hurricane Preparedness
- Tropical Storm Safety Tips
Emergency Numbers and Sites
Do Not crowd around relief centres needlessly;
Do Not congregate in roads and thoroughfares;
Do Not use your cars unless you have an important job to do.
Do Not go sightseeing.
Do Not attempt to surf the storm surge.
Issued at regular intervals when a hurricane is first detected in the area.
- Listen carefully for other messages which follow the advisory. This will prepare you for s hurricane emergency well in advance of the issue of watches and warnings.
Issued when the hurricane continues its advance and threatens coastal and inland regions.
- Continue normal activities, but stay tuned to your local radio station for all national weather services advisories. Remember a hurricane watch means possible danger within 24 hours.
Issued once it is established that a hurricane is expected to strike within 24 hours.
- Pay no attention to rumours. Rely on official advice and warnings. Stay tuned to your radio.
- Take cover as soon as possible; leave low lying areas that might be swept away by storm surges. Do not run the risk of being marooned.
- See that livestock has plenty of food and water, and fasten them securely in suitable buildings; if not leave them untethered.
- Board up windows or protect them with storm shutters or tape.
- Check your battery powered equipment and emergency cooking facilities.
- Disconnect the intake of your cistern and block the outlet as soon as possible otherwise the water in the cisternmay become contaminated.
- Get in extra food.
- Be calm. Your ability to do so may inspire and help others.
- Plan your time before the storm arises and avoid the last minute hurry which might leave you stranded or unprepared.
- Take in at least several days supply of sterilised drinking water, and water for other purposes.
- Secure outdoor objects that might be blown away. Anchor them or store them inside before the storm.
- Harvest and store all nearly ripened fruits, as they become a source of food as well as prevent them from becoming missiles and damaging property during the storm.
- Moore your boats securely before the storm arrives, or move it to a designated area, until the storm has died.
- Keep you car fueled.
During a Hurricane
- Remain indoors.
- Stay away from windows and glass doors.
- Use telephones only for emergencies. Do not jam the lines with unnecessary calls.
- If the eye of the hurricane passes over your place, there may be a lull. Stay in a safe place. Only make emergency repairs during the lull if absolutely necessary, but remember the wind will return suddenly. (Remember to check that a window or door is opened on the leeward side of the house and board up the one you kept free before.)
- If your house shows signs of collapsing, take cover under a stairway or strong table.
- In many homes the bathroom is the safest place. You have water and sanitation facilities.
- Provide children with fun indoor games as well as snacks that do not require refrigeration.
- Exercise extreme caution with candles and lanterns. Keep a bucket of sand nearby if you have to extinguish a fire.
- Stay inside until you receive the “all clear” from the official sources.
- If it is not safe at home, move to a designated shelter, and remember to carry enough food and blankets for you and your family.
- Before you leave be sure you and your family are well fed. Avoid already flooded areas. Do not attempt to cross any stretch of flood waters on foot if they are more than knee high.
- Do not drive where the water is over the roads, the roads could already be washed away.
- Take what precautions you can to protect your property.
- Take small valuables and important papers but remember travel light.
- Register each member of your family as soon as you enter the shelter.
photo or image here
After the Hurricane has Passed
- Seek the necessary medical care at Red Cross disaster clinics or hospitals.
- Stay out of disaster areas.
- Avoid loose or dangling wires and report them immediately to the electricity services or a nearby police station.
- Report broken sewers or water mains to the appropriate authority.
- Do not empty water stored in bath tubs or other receptacles and boil drinking water until you are sure that a safe water supply has been restored.
- Guard against spoilt food in refrigerators if the power has been cut off for any length of time.
- Drive motor vehicles cautiously.
- Assist the members of the Emergency Relief Organisation as much as possible only when asked to do so.