NWS: ‘It’s absolutely fundamental for people to get ready’
With tropical waves brewing in the Atlantic, meteorologist urges citizens to review their emergency plans as peak month for hurricane season arrives
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
As Puerto Rico heads into its peak hurricane season in September, National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Gabriel Lojero called for Puerto Rico residents on Sunday to check their emergency plans as the Miami National Hurricane Center (NHC) monitors four tropical waves in the Atlantic Ocean that have formation chances, yet do not represent an “immediate threat” to the island.
The first tropical wave, which is located to the south of Puerto Rico and close to the Windward Islands, is expected to move west through the central west part of the Caribbean Sea a has a 70 percent and 80 percent chance of forming into a storm in the next 48 hours or five days, respectively, Lojero told the Star.
Meanwhile, the meteorologist said the second tropical wave, located southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, has a 20 percent chance of formation in the next five days, while a third tropical wave that is still over Africa is expected to move westward into the Atlantic and has a 30 percent chance of formation in the next five days. Lojero said there’s still uncertainty as forecasters are having difficulty figuring out which of the inconsistent systems may develop based on current models.
“Independent of what might happen, these two tropical waves that are being monitored by the NHC for potential formation, if they arrive in the Caribbean region, it won’t for a week or a week and a half; therefore, we will have a lot of time to keep monitoring their evolutions,” Lojero said. “We have to remind others that we’re in the peak of hurricane season, as the month of September is, climatically speaking, the most active month. There are many waves that are under suspected development and, especially given that this year is forecast as a very active year, it should not come as a surprise.”
Meanwhile, Lojero told the Star that although it’s still too early to forecast what impacts these systems might have in Puerto Rico, citizens must keep monitoring their development and once again review their hurricane emergency plans.
“We still don’t have a clear view as to what might happen. What we are aware of is that we still have to keep monitoring; this is not a time to start worrying. Meanwhile, people should get ready, that’s the main thing; it’s absolutely fundamental for people to get ready,” the NWS meteorologist said. “We already have the experience of living through a catastrophic event such as Hurricane Maria three years ago;, let’s use that experience to repeat what worked and improve what didn’t.”
As for COVID-19, Lojero recognized that the disease caused by the coronavirus is “an additional challenge to face” for this hurricane season. Henceforth, he said it would be advisable for citizens to not leave their preparations for the last minute, such as acquiring non-perishable food, water, batteries, and other essential sources to stay safe during the height of the storm season.