Hurricane Dorian: What You Should Know and How You Can Help

Hurricane Dorian: What You Should Know and How You Can Help

As Guyana’s first indigenous bank with a strong focus on corporate social responsibility, GBTI is dedicated to helping make life better, not only for all Guyanese, but for the country’s friends and neighbors as well. This is why GBTI is proud to have committed $3 million in relief funding to the Bahamas, which is struggling to recover from the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian. In a recent press release announcing the funding commitment, GBTI’s executive director Richard Isava emphasized how important it is for individual people, institutions, and governments alike to do whatever is in their power to help the people of the Bahamas return to normal life.

Hurricane Dorian made headlines around the world due to the destruction it left in its wake. The worst natural disaster in the history of the Bahamas, this powerful storm claimed at least 53 lives and destroyed thousands of homes and business. Many people remain missing. The need for help is still urgent.

Dorian is the fifth Category 5 hurricane to develop in the North Atlantic in just four years.

Hurricanes are ranked for their strength using a system known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which runs from Category 1 (wind speeds between 74 and 95 miles per hour, causing some damage) to Category 5 (wind speeds of 157 miles per hour or higher, causing catastrophic damage).

Hurricane Dorian was the fifth hurricane in the North Atlantic—after Matthew (2016), Irma (2017), Maria (2017), and Michael (2018)—to reach Category 5 status over a four-year period. This is important to note because the North Atlantic has experienced only 35 Category 5 hurricanes in total since 1924. The development of five such storms in the four most recent seasons is therefore far beyond the average occurrence rate: something that has scientists concerned about the possible link between hurricane development and the warmer sea surface temperatures caused by climate change.

At times, Dorian moved slower than you probably walk.

The wind speeds for powerful hurricanes like Dorian may be incredibly high, but that doesn’t mean that the storm system itself is moving rapidly. Unfortunately, Dorian belonged to that particularly destructive group: a slowly churning, major category hurricane. After Dorian made landfall on Great Abaco Island, the storm essentially stalled for more than 24 hours over Grand Bahama Island, battering the area with massive rainfall and winds reaching 185 miles per hour. This prolonged exposure is what made the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian particularly devastating for the islands.

Dorian was characterized by two rapid intensifications.

Rapid intensification is the term used to describe a significant increase in wind speed (generally an increase of more than 35 miles per hour) that happens in less than 24 hours. Historically, rapid intensification has been a rare occurrence in Atlantic hurricane seasons, but it has been happening more frequently in recent years. Dorian was particularly unusual in that the storm not only went through two rapid intensifications, but one of these occurred from an initial wind intensity greater than 150 miles per hour. This was unprecedented in the Atlantic. Once again, this is cause for concern given that recent research has linked rapid intensification with climate change.

Dorian caused massive storm surge in the Bahamas.

Powerful winds aren’t the only aspect of a hurricane that causes damage: storm surge, which refers to the rise in seawater level during a storm, can be a far worse problem and a greater threat to life and property. For the Bahamas during Hurricane Dorian, the forecasted storm surge was between 18 and 23 feet, and early satellite imagery showed that the catastrophic storm surge for Grand Bahama Island submerged roughly 60% of the land. Eyewitness reports, which describe the Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport as being completely submerged, give a frightening picture of what this kind of storm surge looked like on the ground.

The name “Dorian” will likely be retired from use.

Hurricanes and tropical cyclones are named by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a United Nations agency based in Geneva, Switzerland. For Atlantic storms, the WMO cycles through six lists of names, which are organized alphabetically and alternate by gender. After the names on these six lists have been used, the process repeats from the beginning. However, if a particular storm has been especially destructive, deadly, or costly, that name will often be removed from the list, usually at the request of the country that was most affected. For example, the names Florence and Michael, two of the most destructive storms of 2018, were removed earlier this year. Other names that have been retired include Katrina, Irene, and Sandy. Due to the devastation it caused, Dorian is likewise expected to join this list of names that are no longer in use.

You can help Dorian survivors. If you think there’s nothing you can do to help the Bahamas recover from Hurricane Dorian, think again. In addition to its own financial commitment, GBTI has set up a relief fund that is accepting contributions from the general public. To make a donation, visit your nearest GBTI branch. Details about the relief fund account are also available on the homepage of the GBTI website.

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