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Cayman Islands Government

Regional Hurricane Meeting

Fred Sambula, CINWS Director General

The 33rd session of the Regional Hurricane Committee will take place in Grand Cayman from 7 to 12 March at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Hosted jointly by the World Meteorological Organisation and the Cayman Islands Government through the CI National Weather Service (CINWS), the meeting will assemble more than 50 experts from the North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Attendees will include experts from the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, a number of Tropical Cyclone research scientists and a delegation from the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.

Fred Sambula, CINWS Director General, said that the purpose of this event, that takes place annually under the chairmanship of the Director of the National Hurricane Centre, Miami, is to enable regional experts to get together to review the region's early warning technical and operational plans prior to the start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

"This entails looking at the capacities of the national weather services in countries within this hurricane belt and seeing how they can be assisted with improving their handling and regional coordination of hurricane watches and warnings in the coming season," Mr. Sambula said.

He added that another issue that the committee typically looks at is selecting and retiring hurricane names.

"For example, if a hurricane has caused significant damage and or loss of life, that name is normally retired. This was so with Ivan, Paloma, Gilbert and likely Tomas this session, as have been other storms that brought devastation to this region," he explained.

Mr. Sambula also disclosed that a Disaster Risk Reduction Workshop on Monday, 7 March will precede the five-day meeting.

The DRR Workshop entitled, Strengthening Regional Cooperation to Support Forecasting with Multi-Hazard Approach is targeting regional national weather services, emergency management agencies as well as other organisations in government and private sector.

The workshop will be coordinated & chaired by Dr. Maryam Golnaraghi, Chief of Disaster Risk Reduction, WMO.

Mr. Sambula said that on Friday, 11 March it is hoped to run a half day workshop on Hurricane Preparedness and Business Continuity.

"This is aimed at assisting businesses to improve plans in order to minimise damage to life, property and the subsequent impact on the bottom-line.

"We will share sound mitigation and preparedness methods that will allow for quick recovery hence reduced time of interruption to business and other services at local and international levels," he added.

Minister of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture the Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, JP said she is pleased to be hosting the meeting in the Cayman Islands.

"Our local businesses and government services can benefit from the expertise which this gathering will bring," she said.

"Even though we are currently building our own capacity with the planned establishment of the weather radar, we are still keen to see what we can learn to strengthen our disaster risk reduction, as it relates to warning and watches," she added.

For further information contact: Prudence Barnes