Minister Johnson says Sint Maarten to host Wet/Hurricane Season Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum

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PHOTO: Minister Stuart Johnson.

Sint Maarten will be hosting the Wet/Hurricane Season Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) next week from May 21-24.

This is a collaborative effort between the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH) and the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS). MDS falls under the Ministry of Tourism & Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT).

The Forum will address climate change, increasing climate variability as exemplified by extreme weather and climate events, such as droughts, floods, storms/hurricanes that continue to pose a significant risk for the Caribbean region.

Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Stuart Johnson said on Thursday that the Regional Climate Outlook Forum is promoted by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) through the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) in different parts of the world.

“The forums are part of the development of an effective early warning system that provides real-time seasonal climate forecasts and interpretation for more than 25 Caribbean states and territories. This service would be tailored made for the region as part of an overall strategy for disaster preparedness, risk reduction and adaptation.

“Experiences, lessons learned, and best practices post-Irma will be discussed by attendees. The main feature event will be the climate forecasts for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season.

“CariCOF is a timely event since it is being held one-week ahead of the official start of the hurricane season. We look forward to welcoming the Forum delegates and to having meaningful and productive discussions,” Minister Hon. Stuart Johnson said on Thursday.

The Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have climate change and increasing climate variability as regional and national priorities.

CariCOF was re-established in June 2010, after the region suffered one of the most intense droughts in Caribbean history.

There was a follow-up CariCOF in February/March 2012 that developed a draft seasonal (three-month) rainfall outlook. Since 2012, the CIMH has been coordinating climate forecasting activities throughout the region.

The focus of CariCOF 2019 is the wet/hurricane season which usually has implications for disaster risk management, with perennial threats from tropical depressions, storms, hurricanes, floods and landslides.

The training of meteorologists and climatologists from the across the Caribbean Basin about the art of climate forecasting will take place between May 21-22 followed by the stakeholder’s outlook forum from May 23-24.

The Forum will also attract national disaster management practitioners, and participation from partner regional organizations and agencies representing climate sensitive sectors such as health, energy, tourism and water.

Other areas to be discussed is building capacity in the disaster management fraternity and regional organizations in understanding, interpreting and applying climate-related forecasts, including sub-seasonal and one month will be key for decision making during the upcoming hurricane season.

The development of a regional Roadmap and Plan of Action (RPA), orchestrated by the Regional Sectoral Early Warning Information Systems across Climate Timescales (EWISACTs) Coordination Partners, will be discussed with respect to its status as the region prepares for its implementation between 2020-2030.

Other points to be discussed are: Forecast based early action to be led by the Overseas Development Institute (UK) in collaboration with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre; National level sector specific climate information; and a proposed network for monitoring climate-related impacts.

The Forum is taking place at the Simpson Bay Resort & Marina.

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