The 2010 Hurricane Season is Here

Ms. Bernier-Toth stated, while the impact of the individual storm can vary widely, we found that there will be hurricanes and at least some of them will have a significant impact on US citizens living in the affected region or visiting it as tourists or travelers. Our motto is: “Plan for the worst and hope for the best”.

Hurricane Catrina from ISS, March 26, 2004

Hurricane Catrina from ISS, March 26, 2004 by Earth Observations Lab, Johsnon space Center

In a press briefing teleconference on Tuesday, Michelle Bernier-Toth, Director of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, said June 1st is the first day of the Hurricane Season.  As part of hurricane preparedness, the U.S. Department of State wants all citizens to “Know before they go”.

“We want to make sure first and foremost, that US citizens have the information they need before they make travel plans so they can be better informed to make decisions and preparations, should they find themselves in an area affected by a hurricane,” said Ms. Bernier-Toth.

The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1 and ends November 30.  Among the highest priorities of the U.S. Department of State is the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas.  Every year, the possibility of hurricanes threatens the welfare of U.S. citizens living or vacationing in parts of Mexico, Central America, and in the Caribbean.

Know before you Go

Prior to departure, Americans should register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website.  Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known and will make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact you in case of emergency.  While Consular Officers will do their utmost to assist Americans in a crisis, travelers should always be aware that when they are abroad, local authorities bear primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.  It is important to follow local authorities’ instructions concerning security and evacuation; failure to do so has cost people their lives.

Americans traveling during the hurricane season should monitor local radio and other sources of information, such as the National Hurricane Center, to stay aware of any weather developments in the area.  Minor tropical storms can develop into hurricanes very quickly, limiting the time available for a safe evacuation.  Travelers should maintain close contact with their tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency.

Preceding the press briefing teleconference, and in line with U.S. President Barack Obama’s direction that federal agencies prepare for the hurricane season, there was an annual workshop with the Department of State, other U.S. government, and foreign embassy officials responsible for responding to hurricanes overseas.  Consular officers from U.S. embassies and consulates in Grenada, Jamaica, Bermuda, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas participated via video conferencing.

Participants discussed the 2010 hurricane forecast, past lessons learned, current response plans, and how to most effectively alert U.S. citizens abroad of any hurricane threat through social media and web 2.0 technologies.   More information regarding hurricane preparedness is available at www.travel.state.gov.

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