It Never Rains But It Pours: Flooded Jamaica Facing Even More Rain Next Weekend.

PHOTO: JIS PHOTOGRAPHER Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica Met Office, Evan Thompson.
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KINGSTON, Jamaica–November 10th, 2020–Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica (Met Office), Evan Thompson, is encouraging Jamaicans to prepare for the possibility of more rainfall on the weekend.

He said that the island may be impacted by a tropical wave, which is now developing in the Central Caribbean.

“There is a tropical wave that is moving in. It will increase rainfall in the Central Caribbean for sure. How much Jamaica will be impacted and how much that system will develop into a tropical storm or even a hurricane, is yet to be determined. It is still a little early to say. By the time we get into this weekend, we should be seeing increased rainfall in the Central Caribbean [which] will impact Jamaica in some way,” he said.

He noted that the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season is, to date, the most active on record.

Subtropical storm Theta, which formed in the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, is the 29th storm this season, breaking the previous record of 28 storms of 2005.

Mr. Thompson said that increased severe weather events may become common in the future, with more systems developing outside of the traditional hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

“We are moving into a new paradigm, a new shift in our atmosphere. It could be cyclical; it could be that we are in a period of increased activity and then go through a period of lower activity. But it is also a signal that if our climate is really changing and we have evidence to support that it is changing, we should look to see more of these kinds of seasons as we go from year to year,” Mr. Thompson said.

Jamaica has already been hit by heavy recent rains. Prime Minister Andrew Holness, says that more than 200 roads island wide were severely impacted by recent heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Eta.


“Under the previous system [Tropical Storm Zeta] we had 80 roads [impacted], and under this system we have assessed 206 roads. There will be a bill that we have to contemplate as a Parliament, as to how we recover,” Mr. Holness said.

He informed that all of the 23 roads that were listed as being impassable during Zeta, have been cleared.

“When we say clear, vehicles can traverse but some may be single lane, some dual carriage, but all the roads are passable, except for the Thompson Town Road to Victoria road in Clarendon, where there was a partial collapse of the road. It is intended that reconstruction works will commence during the course of this financial year,” Prime Minister Holness told the House.

He said preliminary assessments indicate that the southern parishes were again more affected than the northern sections of the island.

“We now have 23 corridors, including the Gordon Town Road in St. Andrew, that are impassable or closed. The Gordon Town Road is a major challenge at this time, as not only do we have to be dealing with the unstable hillsides that collapsed but we have a major breakaway that has essentially cut off this important main road and, indeed, all the communities going up into the hills in east rural St. Andrew,” Mr. Holness said.

He indicated that he has instructed the National works Agency (NWA) “to ensure that all the necessary technical work is done expeditiously in order to get this issue resolved. It will require major efforts and time to have the road connected at this location, given the challenging landscape”.

Mr. Holness noted that the road sits atop a river channel that is some 80 meters below an embankment, which is more than 20 meters high.

He said that the problems for the people in the Gordon Town area were further compounded by landslides, including one massive earth movement along the Irish Town Road, which is the natural alternative route for many of these residents.

He informed that NWA has cleared the major landslide along the Irish Town Road “so persons who live in Section, Silver Hill Gap and surrounding areas will be able to, hopefully, access these areas”.

“I have been advised that there is a road connecting Gordon Town Road and Irish Town Road. That will be cleared as well, so that the residents there will have alternatives,” Mr. Holness said.

In relation to the Bull Bay area, additional heavy-duty equipment is to be brought in to assist in desilting the Chalky River, which has been a source of some of the flooding that has impacted that community.

“I want to again underscore the need for residents to ensure that when the Government spends millions of dollars to assist in building resilience in our drainage infrastructure that nothing is done to compromise the systems,” Mr. Holness said.

“We might have been able to mitigate significantly the impact of the flooding on those persons at Weise Road, had the groins stayed in place. I am informed that some of the groins in that area… were compromised. My understanding is some of the groins were cut and the stones removed, indeed not just in the Bull Bay area [but] it’s a practice that is common island wide,” he added.

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States, with 27,000 square miles inundated in depths of up to 30 feet. The flood was memorialized in a number of songs, once of which, Didn’t It Rain, was performed at a disused railway station by Sister Rosetta Tharp during a 1964 visit to Britain.

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