July 6, 2021 – One day after becoming the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season, Elsa weakened back into a tropical storm Saturday as it zeroed in on western Haiti. Conditions in these areas were already deteriorating due to the storm’s strong winds, heavy rain and inundating storm surge.
The storm underwent rapid intensification one day earlier, becoming a hurricane early Friday morning as it raced toward the Caribbean Islands.
Within 24 hours, Elsa went from tropical-storm strength with 40-mph winds to a Category 1 hurricane with 75-mph winds. By its maximum-sustained winds increasing by at least 35 mph within 24 hours, the storm’s strengthening just met the criteria set by the National Hurricane Center qualifying as “rapid intensification.”
AccWeather forecasters are now keeping a close eye on the tropical system as it is expected to approach the United States after moving through the Caribbean through the weekend.
Elsa was about 175 miles southeast of Montego Bay, Jamaica, packing sustained winds of 65 mph and moving quickly toward the west-northwest at 17 mph at 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday. Tropical-storm-force winds extended out up to 125 miles out from its center. A category 1 hurricane has maximum-sustained winds starting at 74 mph.
The storm weakened on Saturday after peaking in strength on Friday, when its maximum-sustained winds were around 85 mph during the afternoon and evening hours. But the storm has also already been blamed for widespread damage and power outages, including in the islands of Barbados and St. Vincent.
One death was reported in Soufriere, St. Lucia, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. About 30 per cent of customers on the island were without power on Saturday due to damaged power lines. Two other deaths were reported in the Dominican Republic, according to the director for the Dominican Republic’s center for emergency operations.
Elsa ripped roofs off homes, toppled trees and caused flooding in Barbados before introducing heavy rain and wind in St. Vincent Friday. Many power outages were also blamed on Elsa.
As the storm tore through Barbados, Wilfred A. Abrahams, the island’s Minister of Home Affairs Information and Public Affairs, urged residents of the island nation to shelter in place, adding that folks should only leave their homes if the structures are damaged. Authorities in Haiti urged people to evacuate if they lived near water or mountain flanks.
Elsa is also blamed for two deaths in the Dominican Republic; a 15-year old boy and a 75-year old woman.
As of Saturday, AccuWeather forecasters say Elsa is most likely to enter the eastern Gulf of Mexico and approach Florida early this week.
Photo by: Marlon St. Brice
Hurricane Hole Superyacht Marina opens in the Bahamas
By Sherrica Thompson
#TheBahamas, November 30, 2022 – Sterling Global Financial officially opened its Hurricane Hole Superyacht Marina on Paradise Island in the Bahamas on Friday, November 25.
The company broke ground for the $250 million redevelopment project in January 2019.
The deep-water floating docks are designed to cater to the needs of superyachts, sports fishers and smaller craft by adjusting to water levels and providing consistent access to vessels. The company said this will help reduce the likelihood of damage during hurricanes.
“This 250-million-dollar development is set to revitalize and diversify Paradise Island’s luxury vacation profile. The entire development has effectively created a downtown district on Paradise Island and includes restaurants, harbourfront residences, professional offices, a food store, a wines and spirits retailer, and other commercial and retail vendors,” Davis said.
Davis also said the marina will boost tourism on Paradise Island.
“This boon is bringing excitement to Paradise Island, adding to the convenience for Paradise Island residents and the experience of visitors at hotels and short-term rentals. More dining, boating choices, entertainment, and convenient services will serve to augment the overall experience of residents and visitors alike,” the Prime Minister explained.
Adding that: “At the heart of this development is the Sterling Hurricane Hole Superyacht Marina capable of hosting the world’s most exclusive superyachts — boats up to 420 feet in length.”
Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said the marina will increase the country’s booking for the next three months.
“These are exciting times for Nassau’s Paradise Island. These are exciting times for tourism, and we know that our bookings for the next three months are 16 per cent ahead of where they were in 2019,” Cooper said.
Hurricane Season 2022 ends today; 337 died + Damages at $54 Billion
By Dana Malcolm
November 30, 2022 – What was predicted to be an extremely active hurricane season ends today Wednesday November 30, thankfully, falling a little short of 2022 predictions. Less storms, less major storms still 337 were killed and damages hit over $54 billion.
The season started slowly when compared to recent years. In fact, 2022 was the first hurricane season in eight years where a storm did not develop before June 1st. Nonetheless by June 5 the first storm was in and it was named: Alex which was one of the few storms to survive crossing land moving into the Atlantic from the Eastern Pacific basin.
Alex was the first of fourteen storms. Bonnie and Colin arrived in July without much damage and the season was quiet for another month.
Then came September, which spat out Hurricanes Danielle; Earl; Fiona; Tropical Storm Gaston; Hurricane Ian; and Tropical Storm Hermine in quick succession.
Hurricane Fiona which reached Category 4 strength became the first major storm of the season on October September 20th passing by the Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos with severe flooding in the two Latino Caribbean countries and violent winds in TCI, a small British overseas territory which it hit as a Category 1 storm.
Bermuda would also feel the wrath of Hurricane Fiona which continued north, into Canada where at Cat4 strength it become that country’s strongest, devastating infrastructure in places like Prince Edward Island. The death toll in Fiona: 31 people.
Only seven days later Hurricane Ian, which at its strongest was a Category 4, barreled towards Florida and the Carolinas going past Jamaica and directly over Cuba in the process, with destructive results.
Almost 150 people were killed according to US media.
Large swaths of Florida were torn apart and thousands left homeless. A 12 foot storm surge meant many people in single story homes had to leave them behind lest they drown in the water filling them.
In October Category 1 Hurricane Julia and Tropical Storm Karl formed. Skirting the Central American countries, Julia still drenched Venezuela, Guatemala and El Salvador – reports of severe flash floods led to at least 91 people died.
Hurricanes Lisa, Martin, and Nicole formed in November.
Nicole was a surprising late season Category 1 hurricane which brought extreme flooding to the Dominican Republic and Northwestern Bahamas affecting areas still recovering from hurricane Dorian. It went on to further damage areas of Florida which had only weeks before been slightly affected by Hurricane Ian. Nicole brought a direct and damaging hit. At least 11 people were killed.
According to official assessments, the University of Arizona turned out to be the most accurate predictor of the season claiming back in April that there would be fourteen named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
Hurricane Nicole – A symbol of climate injustice
By Deandre Williamson
Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellow
#TheBahamas, November 29, 2022 – With the trauma of Hurricane Dorian still lingering, Abaco and Grand Bahama residents braced for Hurricane Nicole as they experienced another unfair blow of climate injustice.
As sea levels rose, triggering storm surges and flooding, the northwestern islands of The Bahamas were placed under hurricane watch. For many, this signaled that the fight for climate justice must continue.
Some residents on those islands evacuated their homes and fled to shelters hours before Nicole made landfall in The Bahamas on Nov. 9 as a tropical storm and strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 75 miles per hour.
“The wind was manageable. It wasn’t as bad as we thought. In our area we got maybe a limb or so that blew down. The power was out for a while, but thank God, we made it through it,” Abaco resident Mark Anthony Swain said.
Although the impact of Hurricane Nicole was minimal when compared to Hurricane Dorian in 2019, climate change is the underlying cause of the intensity and frequency of hurricanes in recent years.
When Nicole exited The Bahamas, the “all clear” was given, but the country isn’t clear from future hurricanes and the devastating effects of climate change.
However, it’s clear that The Bahamas and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) need climate justice because they are hit hardest by the impact of climate change, are the least responsible and together bear next to no responsibility for the climate crisis.
While the Government of The Bahamas is fighting for climate justice, residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama are calling for more to be done to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Swain, who also experienced Hurricane Dorian, said the countries that are major contributors of carbon emissions in the atmosphere should do more to assist smaller countries in fighting climate change, so when hurricanes and other natural disasters occur, the smaller countries will be able to maintain themselves.
“I think these other countries that are contributing to the climate challenge that we are facing should be held responsible and accountable in that regard,” Swain added.
China, the United States, Russia, India and Japan are the top five countries with the highest carbon emissions in the world.
Grand Bahama resident Randy Deleveaux, who was on the island during Hurricane Nicole, agrees that more should be done concerning the climate crisis because The Bahamas is in a hurricane zone based on its geographical location.
“We know that every year rain, sun or shine, it appears as if we are going to have a hurricane, whether it’s a major one or not a major one,” Deleveaux said. “As a matter of fact, even though the ones we consider not major, we still have to take more necessary precautions because Dorian taught us we can’t take nothing for granted.”
Deleveaux suggested that the government should ensure that every household is equipped with storm shutters, floatation devices and life jackets.
“There are so many things that the government can do and persons can do in relation to hurricanes because we always have to prepare,” he added.
“Every time we have a hurricane coming, persons have to run and scrap for plywood to put on their windows. We need to move from that and be able to properly prepare.
“Look at our coastal erosion and stuff like that because of the hurricanes. I remember one time you could go on the beaches and see sand, now some of these beaches don’t have no sand like that because of hurricanes and we’re not even looking at the impact that is having on our coastal and marine life. We don’t replace the sand. There is so much things we can do.”
Loss and Damage
But no matter how large or small a hurricane measures on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, there is always loss and damage associated with a storm.
According to Prime Minister of The Bahamas Philip Davis, during the Caribbean Regional Heads of Government Meeting in Preparation for COP27, more than 50 percent of The Bahamas’ outstanding debt can be linked to the impacts of the hurricanes between 2015 and 2019.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in its damage and loss assessments (DaLA) synthesis, noted that The Bahamas has lost more than $4.2 billion over the past seven years as a result of Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew, Irma and Dorian.
Abaco and Grand Bahama are still rebuilding from Hurricane Dorian and, although minimal, the damages from Hurricane Nicole are being assessed.
Prime Minister Davis was in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt attending COP27 when Hurricane Nicole passed through the northwestern Bahamas. At COP27, he called on world leaders to get real about ensuring that loss and damage are compensated for.
“We do not have a significant carbon footprint in the world. Yes, we do have a significant carbon sink in the world. But yet still, after this hurricane has passed, who’s going to have to pay for the recovery, reconstruction and for normalizing the lives of my people?” Davis said in a video interview.
Climate justice fights for solutions to the climate crisis that would result in reduced emissions and industrialized rich nations sharing the burden of the crisis by helping SIDS handle the severe effects of climate change.
Swain lost his home during Hurricane Dorian and there are others who also lost their homes and some are still living in trailers in Abaco.
Without insurance, Swain is rebuilding his home, but the progress is slow.
He explained that the Disaster Reconstruction Authority and other NGOs promised to help him, but they haven’t delivered on their promises as yet.
“We will, out of pocket, try to do some things to get us along,” Swain said.
Hurricane Dorian caused a housing shortage in Abaco and the demand for a home is great.
According to Swain, because of the demand and desperation to find a home, the rent in Abaco is skyrocketing.
“You can find the average apartment, two bedroom, going for no less than $1,500. In some instances it’s over $2,000,” he said.
After negotiations and hearing the pleas of Small Island Developing States, COP27 closed with the announcement of a loss and damage fund to compensate countries impacted by climate change. This is a huge step in the fight for climate justice.
This story was published with the support of Climate Tracker’s Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.
Member, The Bahamas Press Club 2014
Caption: Flooding in Abaco caused by Hurricane Nicole. (Photo/Abaco resident)
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