In 2017, the Category 5 Hurricane Irma destroyed much of the territory, including Main Street, above. Leaders are warning residents to prepare in case of a similarly powerful storm this year. (File photo: Freeman Rogers)

This year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season is expected to be “extremely active,” researchers warned last week.

In a report released last Thursday, forecasters at the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project predicted 23 named storms in the Atlantic Basin between June 1 and Nov. 30.

Of those storms, 11 are predicted to be hurricanes, and five are expected to develop into major hurricanes of Category 3 or stronger, according to the report.

These numbers are well above the 1991-2020 average of about 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

“This is our highest prediction that we have ever issued with our April outlook,” states the report, which was led by Senior Research Scientist Dr. Phil Klotzbach. “Our prior highest April forecast was for nine hurricanes, which we have called for several times since we began issuing April forecasts in 1995.”

Dr. Klotzbach explained that the predictions are based on above-average sea temperatures that are expected to provide energy conducive to storm development, in addition to a return to La Niña weather conditions that will limit vertical wind shear which would normally disrupt the organisation and strengthening of storm systems.

In the Virgin Islands, Department of Disaster Management Director Jasen Penn noted that expectations can change as the season develops, but he said the forecast should prompt residents to prepare early for the possibility of storms.

“The reality is that regardless of the forecast, it remains important for persons to take steps to prepare, because just one storm coming to our area can be devastating,” Mr. Penn said.

He added that forecasters are predicting a 66 percent probability of a major hurricane tracking through the Caribbean Sea this year, compared to 47 percent probability in an average year.

“Probabilities are not certainties, but I would encourage all of us to take all steps possible to be ready for seasonal storms,” he added. “As we often say, it is better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.”

Getting ready

As the storm season approaches, residents are urged to monitor local weather reports, which are shared daily via the DDM website and social media channels. Updates are more frequent when a system poses a threat.

DDM also suggests that residents download its app; make or update emergency plans; inspect roofs, gutters, shutters and drainage ways; assemble supplies including food, water and medication; and purchase or update insurance policies.

For more information, go