Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, has hit the Bahamas. With winds of up to 220 mph and storm surges of up to 23 feet, it is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes to make landfall.

The storm is expected to cause widespread flooding and destruction across Grand Bahama Island before moving towards Florida and Georgia coastlines. 

It is hoped the storm will not make landfall in the US, but the path could be influenced by a number of factors over the next few days. 

Dorian storm is the first major hurricane of the 2019 Hurricane season with more expected over the coming months.

A ShelterBox team will be arriving to the Bahamas by the end of the week, with the aim to speak to our local contacts and other organisations.

We need to fully assess the situation to understand whether our emergency tents, tarpaulins, tools and other items will be needed and appropriate for families in the Bahamas.  

Read on to find out more about Hurricane Dorian, facts about hurricanes and how you can help.

ABOUT HURRICANE DORIAN AND THE 2019 HURRICANE SEASON


*The image was taken in Barbuda in 2017. 95% of all homes in Barbuda were destroyed by Hurricane Irma.
  • Dorian is the fourth named storm of the 2019 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30. 
  • The low-pressure system that became Dorian formed on August 23, strengthened to a tropical storm on August 24 and became a hurricane on August 28. 
  • Near-normal tropical storm activity is predicted for the Atlantic Ocean in 2019, according to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 
  • In an average season, there are 12 named storms, including six hurricanes, with about half of them being major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or greater. 
  • In past years over 80% of hurricane season activity has occurred during the two-month stretch from August 20th to October 20th. Although we have only seen two named hurricanes so far in the 2019 hurricane season, this doesn’t mean that it will be a quieter season. 
  • Each year, Colorado State University’s (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project issues an updated outlook in order to account for the various summer changes. In their most recent outlook (as of August 05 2019) they predict 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

HOW DOES SHELTERBOX MONITOR HURRICANES?


When we’re monitoring a tropical storm, we use a variety of sources to give us a detailed overview of the situation.  

  • Windy – this lets us see current weather updates and weather patterns for the next 7/8 days. We can normally identify ahead of time when it looks like a tropical storm / hurricane will start to form, and we can then monitor the storm accordingly. 
  • GDACS – The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System is a resource that provides updates on a range of natural disaster events which rates the overall humanitarian impact of a natural disaster, and provides updates on the impact of the disaster, as well as resources such as maps of the affected areas.  
  • Automated Disaster Analysis and Mapping (ADAM) – an interactive map that tracks active tropical storms and earthquakes.  
  • National Hurricane Centre – a website operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that issues updates and key messaging on tropical storms and hurricanes. They also produce detailed maps and issue advisories for areas where a tropical storm or hurricane is expected to make landfall. 
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  – A US government agency, that issues a forecast for the hurricane season.  

Depending on where a storm is predicted to make landfall, we will often monitor local news sources and government and disaster management agency websites, to understand how governments and local agencies are preparing for and responding to the storm. 

We continue to monitor the situation after the storm has made landfall to understand the impact on affected communities, and to see if there will be an emergency shelter need.

We use our response criteria to make the decision around whether or not we are in a position to respond. 

HOW DOES SHELTERBOX HELP HURRICANE-STRICKEN COMMUNITIES?


*Amy's home in Barbuda was destroyed after Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean in 2017

Dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane or typhoon can be very challenging. Whole communities can be destroyed, from people’s homes to vital infrastructure such as roads, communication lines, power and medical supplies. 

Despite the challenges, we often respond to places that are hit by tropical storms. After hurricane Irma and Maria wreaked havoc in 2017, we have provided essential aid to over 2,000 families across five islands in the Caribbean. See how we’ve supported families.

By providing emergency shelter, people can have somewhere warm to stay and feel safe, which makes the process of recovery a whole lot easier. 

It has made a big difference to have a tent. It protects me from the rain. I love my tent.

– Amy, Barbuda

KEY FACTS ABOUT HURRICANES


What exactly is a hurricane?  

Hurricane and typhoons are cyclonic weather systems that form in the tropics and have sustained wind speeds of more than 74 miles per hour.  

What’s the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane? 

Hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are all tropical storms. The only difference is where they form. Hurricanes form in the tropical Atlantic and the Eastern Pacific.

Typhoons form in the West Pacific and cyclones form south of the equator, off the coast of places such as Australia and Madagascar.

How is hurricane strength measured? 

The Saffir-Simpson scale is the standard scale for rating the severity of a hurricane as measured by the damage it causes. 

It classifies hurricanes on a hierarchy from category 1 (minimal), through category 2 (moderate), category 3 (extensive), and category 4 (extreme), to category 5 (catastrophic). A super typhoon is equivalent to a category 4 or 5 hurricane.

At its peak, Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane, was twice the strength of the Great Storm of 1987 – the most violent storm to ever hit the UK.

Responding after a hurricane


Being deployed in the aftermath of either a hurricane or a typhoon presents many unique challenges. 

Constant monitoring and communication between teams at HQ and on the ground are essential to making sure the team are all aware of what the risks are, what the situation is and what the weather conditions are like. 

Watch this video to find out what our response teams can expect when they arrive in country. 

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