Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Earthquake-Ravaged Haiti Braces for Worst as Hurricane Season Nears

Yesterday I blogged about the hype surrounding the upcoming hurricane season. What was the hype you ask? Scroll down and have a peek, but all-in-all, the Atlantic sea surface temperatures are already at record warm levels and continue to get warmer. That combined with other factors, such as a fading El Niño in the Pacific may make for an interesting hurricane forecast in months to come.

However, it's not all about hurricanes. The Caribbean Island chain lies embedded within Hurricane Alley and whether or not any of these islands are directly hit with a cyclone this year, a wetter than average rainy season is certainly in store. So what does that mean for our friends in Haiti? This situation could potentially complicate difficult humanitarian relief operations following the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12.

Haiti already has a long list of tragic flooding events following just mere glancing blows by tropical storms. In 2008 alone, the country was struck by Tropical Storm Fay on August 15 – 16, by Hurricane Gustav on August 26, by Tropical Storm Hanna on September 1 and by Hurricane Ike on September 6 – 7.

As it stands now, vast swathes of the country are devoid of greenery, soil-holding roots, trees or grasses. Centuries of deforestation as a result of mother nature's beating has left the entire country a mudslide waiting to happen. And with the current Haiti rainfall outlook showing a 50 percent chance that rainfall will be above average during the period from May through July, and a 55 percent chance of above average rainfall from June through August, humanitarian experts fear that excessive rainfall would bring with it an increasing threat of disease and mudslides, among other hazards to the 1.7 million Haitians currently living in tent cities after losing their homes in the quake.

Luckily, the United Nations, the Department of Defense's Southern Command, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Red Cross and the Haitian government recognize the threat, and are racing to brace the impoverished nation for the worst.

With nothing between you and a deluge but a flimsy sheet of plastic, it's a tough time to be living in earthquake-ravaged Haiti! Hopefully things won't turn out as awful as they expect...