The 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season began on June 1 and extends through November 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls for a near-normal or below-normal 2014 hurricane season due to the development of El Niño which causes stronger wind shear therefore reducing the number of tropical storms and hurricanes. There is a 70 percent likelihood of having 8-13 named storms, 3-6 which could become hurricanes, and 1-2 possibly becoming major hurricanes. The average season has 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, with three becoming major hurricanes.
Although the worst of these storms generally skirt Bermuda, an occasional storm inflicts significant damage. The most serious storms generally occur in the fall months. With approaching storms, cruise ships regularly alter their schedules and courses to and from the United States. Island hotels are equipped to assist their guests should a hurricane strike the island. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at: http://www.fema.gov/ or locally at www.weather.bm. In cases when a hurricane appears to be headed toward Bermuda, tune in to the Government Emergency Broadcast radio station (FM100.1 MHz) for continuous weather updates. Information pertaining to U.S. citizens residing in or visiting Bermuda can be found on the Consulate’s website: http://hamilton.usconsulate.gov. Citizens registered with the Consulate through our Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) will receive email messages related to the latest updates. Register with STEP at https://step.state.gov/step/.
The Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) brings together the combined services of the Government of Bermuda, the utilities and private agencies to provide information to the public before, during and after a storm or a hurricane, and to coordinate rescue and recovery efforts. The EMO issues standing instructions yearly and sets up a command post when a hurricane is approaching. In the event of an emergency the EMO is enacted and will keep the public informed as information is available. Detailed updates can be found at www.emo.gov.bm.
With the advent of hurricane season, the American Consulate advises American citizens to prepare in advance for a worst case scenario. Make sure that your travel documents are up to date and in order for emergency travel.
The Consulate advises Americans to renew passports when there is six months of validity remaining. It takes two to three weeks to obtain or renew a passport, and five working days to obtain extra passport pages. Please follow this link to Passport Information.
Before a hurricane strikes, island residents should establish a family emergency plan, check to see if your child’s school has an emergency plan, and prepare an emergency kit.
Preparing for a hurricane:
Store the following items in an easy-to-access place in your home:
- Blankets or sleeping bags;
- Books and games;
- Buckets and bleach;
- Cash, an emergency supply;
- Cell phone and charger; keep cell phones charged as storms approach;
- Change of clothing, rain wear, sturdy shoes, hat, gloves, thermal wear
- Dust masks, disposable
- Eyeglasses, extra pair
- First aid kit
- Flashlights and/or hurricane lamps and oil;
- Food for each person and pet in your household: ready-to-eat, non-perishable (with utensils, plates, cups, waterproof matches, non-electric can opener, pocket knife and aluminum foil);
- Gloves, leather;
- Hard hat;
- Important papers/documents/credit cards/passports/ (in waterproof container);
- Keys, extra set for house and car;
- Personal hygiene items;
- Plastic trash bags (large) and large, covered trash can;
- Prescription medicine and vitamins;
- Radio, battery powered/ fully charged;
- Some kind of camping stove or barbeque with an adequate supply of fuel for cooking and lightweight cooking pans;
- Toilet paper, antibacterial hand wipes, soap, chlorine bleach, disinfectant and paper towels;
- Water – one gallon per person per day (fill bathtubs wand large containers with water for washing);
Other helpful hints:
- Cut back on the amount of food you have stocked up in the freezer;
- Test your generator if you have one;
- Keep your car’s gas tank filled;
- Turn off an unplug unused electrical appliances;
- Secure all moveable objects from your garden or yard;
- Keep animals indoors as much as possible.
- Fill plastic jugs, bottles, etc. with water and freeze. If the power goes out they help to keep freezer contents frozen/cool.
During a hurricane
Do not go outside. Stay clear of windows and doors. If the eye of the storm passes directly over the island, the weather may temporarily become clear and calm. This can last for a few minutes or an hour (the eye of the storm); during this time remain in your house as the storm will resume from the opposite direction and may be stronger than before.
U.S. citizens should monitor weather forecasts issued by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), www.nhc.noaa.gov, and the Bermuda Weather Service, www.weather.bm. For emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the U.S. Consulate, located at 16 Middle Road, Devonshire; telephone 441-295-1592; e-mail HMLAMCONGEN@state.gov.