Prevention and preparedness: Keys to an active hurricane season 2024

July 2, 2024

Building resilience requires strong institutions and organizations, prepared to act quickly and efficiently in disaster situations, with a medium- and long-term vision of territorial management.


Like every year, June sets the beginning of the hurricane season in the Caribbean, which extends until November. Scientists agree that the rise in temperatures is causing events with more precipitations and faster intensification periods. Additionally, the multidimensional vulnerability and exposure conditions of Caribbean countries (especially Small Island Developing States), Mexico, and Central America, result in a high propensity for these crises.

Therefore, the start of the hurricane season is a good time (although it should be done even earlier) to assess the exposure of our homes, infrastructure, services, productive activities, and workplaces. Let's also assess the vulnerability of the population - including the elderly, children, single-parent families, and people living with disabilities - and reinforce these structures if necessary to reduce the impact. Let's prepare ourselves - at the family, community, and country levels - to react and respond most effectively.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announces that 2024 will be an especially active year. Ocean temperatures, already elevated due to climate variability and change, have been further increased by the 2023-24 El Niño phenomenon. From a period of intense drought, we are expected to transition to a stronger than normal hurricane season. This season, 20-25 storms are forecasted, of which 8-12 could become hurricanes.

However, for the Caribbean region, Mexico, and Central America, this situation is not new. In recent years, institutional and community capacities have undoubtedly been strengthened, mainly to respond to these events. Nevertheless, the vulnerability of the population and the exposure of our communities remain very high. Let's remember the impact of hurricanes in Dominica and the Bahamas, which affected the national GDP by 192% and 25% respectively. Likewise, tropical storms Amanda and Cristóbal, which affected El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. And more recently, Hurricane Otis in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.

In preparation for this season, UNDP monitors the situation through the Regional Office and its Country Offices. It will disseminate recently updated action protocols and strengthen anticipatory action capacities in partnership with governments.

The diversity of recovery support initiatives -e.g. damage and loss assessments, comprehensive planning towards resilient recovery, livelihoods reactivation, housing reconstruction- provides a wide range of assistance options to affected communities. In Dominica, UNDP supported the reconstruction of 480 homes under safe conditions. In Sabana de la Mar, Dominican Republic, small-scale agricultural and commercial activities were reactivated. In the Bahamas, digital tools were used for damage assessment, construction of secure housing, and livelihoods reactivation. And currently in Mexico, in partnership with the private sector, support is being provided for the recovery of water and sanitation systems, and educational services.

Building resilience requires strong institutions and organizations prepared to act quickly and efficiently in disaster situations, with a medium- and long-term vision of territorial management. Let's prioritize preventive actions to reduce our vulnerabilities and risks, but in the process, let's also strengthen our capacities for rapid response and transformative recovery from risk situations.

Let's do the same exercise at the individual and family levels. Let's assess our homes’ conditions, how safe our workplaces, schools, or universities are for our children, and how accessible - or inaccessible - they are during wind and rainstorms. Let's create, review, and update our family plan, and collaborate in the design of community plans. We also invite you to reinforce structures in advance, clean sewers, and protect vital services. Let's stay informed and take the necessary precautionary measures.