The first of June marks the official start to the Atlantic Hurricane Season, but, as we’re sure you know, there have been two named storms this year already! And they were named in May! Ever since the temperatures picked up a bit here (in April!) everyone’s been saying it’s going to be a bad storm season.
Meteorologists and storm experts have predicted that this storm season will actually be below average in the number of named storms and the intensity of storms. They have predicted a total of 11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).
Historically, Antigua has been relatively safe from hurricanes, statistically having far less hurricanes over the past two hundred years than other islands in the Caribbean.
Still, it only takes that one major storm to hit us at precisely the right angle to cause widespread damage and devastation. And since Murphy’s law pretty much applies to everything we do, we like to be extra prepared and then when nothing happens breathe a sigh of relief. This is how we prepare for hurricane season at the Dockyard Museum.
First, the Dockyard Museum adheres to a Disaster Preparedness Plan that was originally devised by Desmond Nicholson and is consistently updated every year. The Disaster Preparedness Plan takes into account what types of natural disasters we are most likely to face (hurricanes), what types of damage we can expect from such disasters (wind and water damage) and how to mitigate those concerns. We have to take into account the variety of collections we have, ranging from archival, paper materials to heavy metal artifacts, as well as the general state of exhibits. In the case of a forecasted storm or hurricane our team at the Dockyard Museum springs into action trying to safeguard our collections as best as possible. This includes moving archival materials into waterproof containers, securing heavier objects in places where they can do less damage (don’t need 18th-century cannonballs rolling around everywhere) and safeguarding all of our electronic data in several hard drives both on and off site.
Ultimately we can’t do anything to prevent a hurricane but we can do our best to safeguard the heritage for which we are responsible.
Make sure you do all that you can to prepare for hurricanes as well! Devise an emergency plan with your family and neighbours and have a hurricane survival kit on hand with enough water, prescription medications, and batteries to survive at least 3 days.
More tips on how you can prepare for hurricane season can be found online. Here are a few links we like:
And, as always, be sure to stay alert for local reports, information, and instructions in the event of a major storm event.
Here’s to a safe and (hopefully) storm-free hurricane season for Antigua and Barbuda!