Haiti’s 2022 Hurricane Season
The 2022 hurricane season began on June 1 and will end on November 30, the Directorate General of Civil Protection (DGPC) announced in a letter dated June 1, 2022. During this time, hydro-meteorological occurrences and the risk of flooding intensify. The 2022 season in the North Atlantic is expected to be violent. According to estimates from the Climate Prediction Center, a component of the National Weather Service of the US Oceanic and Atmospheric Monitoring Agency (NOAA), between June 1 and November 30, 2022, there is a probability range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or more), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or more), of which 3 to 6 are significant hurricanes (categories 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph). The 2022 systems will be named Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Martin, Nicole, Owen, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tobias, Virginia, and Walter. (Rezo Nodwes)
At the National Tropical Weather Conference, Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the report from Colorado State University (CSU), delivered the first hurricane forecast for the 2022 season, which begins on June 1. The CSU forecast anticipates 19 named storms, nine of which might develop into hurricanes with winds of at least 119 kilometers per hour (74 mph). Four storms might be major (Category 3 or higher) with winds exceeding 185 km/h, according to experts (115mph). (Le National)
We anticipate an above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin in 2022. The current conditions of weak La Nia are extremely likely to convert to a neutral ENSO by this summer/fall, whilst the likelihood of a major El Nio is remote. Mean sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central tropical Atlantic are currently close to average, although the Caribbean and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are warmer than usual. We anticipate a greater-than-average probability of significant hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States and Caribbean coastlines. As with every hurricane season, coastal communities are reminded that it only takes one hurricane to make landfall for them to experience an active season. They should prepare identically for each season, regardless of the predicted level of activity.
Atlantic Basin Hurricane Seasonal Forecast for 2022:
- Forecast parameter and 1991–2020
- Average (in brackets)
- Date of issue April 7, 2022
- Named storms: 19 (average 14.4)
- Named storm days: 90 (average 69.4)
- Hurricanes: 9 (average 7.2)
- Hurricane days: 35 (average 27.0)
- Major hurricanes: 4 (average 3.2)
- Major hurricane days: 9 (average 7.4)
- Accumulated cyclone energy: 160 (average 123)
- Net tropical cyclone activity: 170% (average 135%)
The early April forecast is the first seasonal forecast issued by Colorado State University and has modest, long-term proficiency when assessed in retrospective mode. The proficiency of CSU’s forecast updates increases as the Atlantic hurricane season peaks. Nevertheless, according to the outlook for the US season, there is a 65% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season of 2022 hurricanes in the Atlantic.
It is important to remind coastal residents that it only takes one hurricane to make it an active season and that they should prepare the same for each season, regardless of the activity forecast.
Therefore, the Haitian population is called to be vigilant, and the leaders of the National System for Risk and Disaster Management (SNGRD) continue the fight for disaster risk reduction in Haiti and the media to disseminate information relating to the situation.
Haiti remains highly vulnerable to natural hazards. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Haiti is the fifth country in the world most exposed to disaster risk. These events always have consequences. The probability of a disaster occurring during the territorial encounter between an extreme phenomenon (hazard) and a community (vulnerability) is considerably high. This encounter is the common meaning given to the definition of risk (Veyret, 2004). Practically all types of risks (see Table 1) are found on Haitian territory. Still, we note that natural risks dominate (geophysical, hydro-meteorological, etc.), most of which are the source of other risks (health, food, etc.). Indeed, a natural risk, such as a flood, can easily generate a health risk that can lead to political and social risks. In short, the natural geophysical and hydro-meteorological risks constitute for the Haitian territory the starting point of a wide variety of risks.
But before addressing this question, a general portrait of Haiti’s hydro-meteorological risks can be sketched quickly.
On the Haitian territory, several local systems (for example, strong local convection combined with an orographic uplift) and large-scale phenomena (for example, a cyclone) can generate abundant precipitation. In terms of time, the country is characterized by a hurricane season and one or more rainy seasons, depending on the region. In any case, heavy rainfall can be recorded in the territory. Conversely, Haiti is also exposed to other hydro-meteorological risks, such as droughts. However, to illustrate the future of one of these risks, we will focus here on cyclones.
The example of cyclones
The formation of tropical cyclones is a climatic phenomenon that originates above the warm seas of the tropics, where all the conditions favorable to its appearance can be met. The latter is a combination of elements of climatic origin, whether at the local or regional scale, and elements that are part of the terrestrial geophysical laws (for example, the Coriolis force).
The consequences: theory and reality
The destructive power of cyclones comes from a combined effect of torrential rain, high winds, and storm surges (rise in sea level). Coastal areas are the most vulnerable to this combination, but the entire Haitian territory can suffer the consequences of the passage of a cyclone. The first effects of such a passage are floods, landslides, and tidal waves (Mathieu et al., 2003). These consequences can quickly lead to epidemics and the destruction of homes, infrastructure, crops, and livestock (ibid.), not to mention the numerous losses of human life.
As far as the effects of the wind are concerned, you should know that they are linked to two factors: the speed of the gusts and the resistance of the obstacles. The pressure exerted on a surface (a wall, for example) is proportional to the square of the wind speed, which is at the origin of this pressure (Holland, 1993). Thus, a wind of 200 km/h will have an action four times greater than a wind of 100 km/h. Most constructions meeting current international standards must withstand winds of 240 km/h. However, the most destructive element is the gusts which can reach values 50% higher than the average wind.
There is no typical scenario regarding the amount of rain generated by a cyclone. On average, 100 mm of precipitation falls in 24 hours within a radius of 200 km from the center, but it is not uncommon to collect up to 400 mm or 400 liters per m² in this period (Graham and Riebeeck, 2006 ). Moreover, when considering the intensity of precipitation, it can reach phenomenal values of 40 liters in one minute per m2.
In Haiti, hurricane activity peaks between August and October. During the period 1900-2011, 32 natural disasters (see Figure 1) associated with cyclonic activity (EM-DAT) were recorded in Haiti. More than half (18 out of 32) of these cyclones appeared after the 2000s. The year 2008 was by far the most spectacular in terms of cyclonic activity since, in less than a month, four cyclones (Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike) affected the country, affecting nearly 800,000 people; claiming more than 1,100 victims and causing damage and property losses estimated at US$897 million (GRH, 2008). The combined effect of strong winds and intense rains caused very heavy flooding. In Gonaives, some areas have seen the water level reached more than six meters in a few hours. These floods destroyed several infrastructures (bridges, schools, hospitals, etc.) and devastated the rice harvests in the Artibonite Valley, which immediately increased food insecurity and increased health risks. To this must be added the social risks associated with the displacement of the population who find themselves without housing in the aftermath of the disaster. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it is estimated that more than 5 million Haitians have been affected by tropical cyclones (EM-DAT). It should be noted that the annual average of the last 34 years is 14.06 cyclonic systems, including 6.91 hurricanes & 7.15 tropical storms.
Areas of intervention
- Intensify the efforts of the National Disaster Risk Management System (SNGRD) to reduce disaster risks.
- Act on the degradation of the physical environment, which has accelerated considerably in recent decades. This acceleration of environmental degradation undermines development efforts and increases the vulnerability of communities living in hazard-prone areas.
- All rescue equipment, spaces reserved as temporary shelters (if any), and a number of volunteers available to accompany the population during the hurricane period.
- The actors of the SNGRD must continue to work for disaster risk reduction. The DGPC to continue to educate, inform and sensitize the Haitian population on the risks to which they are exposed;
- The different media must continue to relay information from Civil Protection;
- The population to be informed and prepare to act while remaining vigilant.
Despite their devastating effects, tropical cyclones play a crucial role in the planet’s energy balance. They transfer excess heat from the surface to the deficit atmosphere. In the past, several study projects (geoengineering) set up to try to destroy the cyclones in formation failed because the consequences of such climate control have proven to be more harmful than the cyclones themselves. In addition, tropical cyclones provide for the Haitian territory a large part of the water resources that the country needs. We must not fight against tropical cyclones; we must integrate (adapt) them to life in the tropics. Cuba is a country often cited as an example of the high level of integration of this natural phenomenon into the life and organization of society. All Caribbean countries are closely affected by hurricane activity. Even developed countries like the United States are repeatedly exposed to this hazard. The case of Hurricane Katrina is a perfect example. But despite everything, it is how to prevent the effects, manage the consequences and learn from them that matters.