Waiting for Tropical Storm Ian, formerly known as Nine: It’s a mood

Jamaica is under a Tropical Storm Watch this evening. The National Hurricane Center‘s map is covered with yellow “x” marks and red spinning tops with names – Fiona, Gaston, and Hermine – but the one Jamaicans were focused on was a red, hollow circle with the inscription “NINE.” It has just turned into a storm, and has been renamed Ian, so it has morphed into a red spinning top.

Currently, Tropical Storm Ian is expected to pass to the south-west of us – it’s still a few hundred miles from Kingston – and it will start raining tomorrow (Saturday) and into the night, when we might have gusts of wind too. We will all hunker down on Sunday, when we expect a lot of rain. My concern is that we have already had so much rain over the past few weeks that Ian (formerly known as Nine) might just add to our woes in terms of flooding, landslides and so on. Water can be destructive, and dangerous.

Jamaica is circled in lemon yellow, and Cayman Islands are in rose pink – Tropical Storm and Hurricane Watch, respectively. This map shows the projected course of Ian.

The Meteorological Service of Jamaica has already worked its way up to Bulletin #10 on TD Nine (now Ian) – good going. Our government agencies have, in the past, been accused of sloppy forecasting, so they are not taking their eyes off the ball (or should I say, that red spinning top). Not for one moment.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has put out an Advisory for Severe Weather Conditions, which is useful. Here goes:

Food Safety

  • Do not store food items with chemicals such as kerosene, bleach, detergents and insect sprays
  • Do not purchase/use food from tins which have signs of dents, bulges or other damage
  • Keep food items in a dry and cool place
  • Store packages of sugar, flour, rice and crackers in their original package or in tightly closed containers
  • Keep a bag with emergency food supply in the event that you have to evacuate your home. This should include only canned and dry food items

Water Safety

  • Store water in a clean covered container. The lid of the container should fit tightly to prevent mosquito breeding.
  • Do not use containers which have previously stored harmful chemicals
  • Use a clean container, with a handle, to “dip up” water from storage

Persons with Chronic Illnesses

  • Persons with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and asthma are reminded to have adequate supply of medication; and if they have to evacuate their homes they must ensure that they take their medications with them to their place of shelter
  • They should continue to take their medications as prescribed by the doctor, while away from home.

Pregnant Women

  • All pregnant women who are within one month of their delivery date should relocate to family or friends, who are in close proximity to a hospital or delivery centre.
  • Please note that public hospitals will remain open to accept emergency cases.

Evacuation

If you have to evacuate your home, certain items should be taken when disaster threatens:

For further information, please contact the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Emergency Operations Centre at 999-ONE-LOVE (888-663-5683).

A list of emergency contacts across the island.

Back home, the tree frogs are working overtime; the chorus is becoming deafening.

The English have a saying “It’s lovely weather for ducks” when it is particularly rainy. In our yard, it is lovely weather for the migratory Northern Waterthrush, which has just arrived and is finding our muddy environment most hospitable. His loud “chink, chink” can be heard all day. He is an unusual visitor for us, but we are happy to have his presence (albeit fidgety, with incessant tail-bobbing).

What a bright little bird. The Northern Waterthrush, from the eBird website. I have been stalking it for two days, but since I only have my iPhone to take photos with at the moment, am unable (so far) to supply my own picture. ADULT fernando Burgalin Sequeria
eBird S76547335
Macaulay Library ML 282148981

Meanwhile, the residents of our fair city are rushing up and down, buying batteries and candles and drinking water and perhaps even a bottle of rum or two, to tide us over. Supermarket trollies are full. Around the coast, and miles away from the main island, some fishers are refusing to leave the cays to the south, which may well be in Ian’s path quite soon.

And since we are talking birds (as I love to do), a birding friend posted a video clip, which summed up our mood of waiting and uncertainty. A seabird (a Brown Noddy) sits on a rock on the Palisadoes, a narrow strip of land that joins Kingston to Port Royal and the airport, dividing Kingston Harbour from the open sea. He is on the open sea side. The wind ruffles the edges of his sturdy, mud-brown feathers as he looks down at the waves at his feet, pushing against flat brown rocks and heaving in dark green and grey, fringed with restless foam. Beyond, indigo clouds muffle the darkening hills.

My blurry screenshot of the Brown Noddy, from the video.

Yes, the storm is coming, and whatever it brings, we will have to be ready.


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