TT Talk - Be prepared - hurricanes or otherwise
Weather seems to be a common theme around the globe at present. In tropical regions, the 'official' storm seasons have either just started (Eastern Pacific) or will do shortly (North Atlantic), although early activity was seen with the first named Atlantic storm, Ana, in early May. This comes on the back of series of powerful thunderstorms across the US and recent memory of significant winter storms across Europe. Simple advice: always be prepared!
The 2015 North Atlantic Hurricane season starts 1 June and runs to the end of November. Similarly, the 2015 Pacific tropical cyclone season officially starts on 15 May in the East Pacific Ocean and on 1 June in the Central Pacific, again running to the end of November. The inherent nature of such matters means that the formation of tropical storms is possible at any time of the year.
Meteorologists pore over data and statistics in order to formulate predictions in advance of each formal season - and use historic performance to strengthen the creditability of the different models and methodologies. From an insurance perspective, one of the leading forecasting teams is Tropical Storm Risk (TSR), a team based at University College London and drawing in experts on insurance and risk management. The latest prediction form TSR was issued in April:
April Forecast Update for Atlantic Hurricane Activity in 2015
Apart from the national forecasters in the US, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA -
), established researchers also include the Colorado State University (CSU) and the North Carolina State University (NCSU), both of whom also issued forecasts in April, respectively:
Extended Range Forecast of Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Activity and Landfall Strike Probability for 2015
Those directly impacted by the risks of tropical storms will already be familiar with such sources and should have in place mechanisms not just to monitor the forecasts but also identify specific local experience. However, while focus may be on the tropics, TT Club's experience is that intense storms can and do strike elsewhere - and throughout the year, as evidenced in recent months in various parts of the globe.
‘intense storms can and do strike elsewhere – and throughout the year’
Therefore, the onset of the tropical season is merely used as timely reminder for all ports, terminals and similar facilities to review and test plans and procedures, as well as ensure that equipment is in appropriate condition. TT Club would urge that such actions, including ensuring that related or partner entities in the locality and all staff are aware of the actions that are to be taken and who is responsible. In general, we would refer to the Club's WindStorm handbook (see details below) which provides detailed step-by-step advice as well as background information.
While extreme storms are usually predicted several days in advance, giving operators valuable time to take action for prevent the worst damage, experience supports the strong advice that there needs to be constant vigilance concerning general operational standards. This would include ensuring that cranes are pinned or tied down when not in use and operators are instructed on actions to take in unexpected gusts.
‘there needs to be constant vigilance concerning general operational standards’
However, additional steps will be required at the point that a storm is forecast or when storm conditions are prevalent. The following are some recommended actions to prevent claims for damage to containers, cargo and equipment:
- Take empty container stacks down to two high, laden containers to three high. Form stacks in a pyramid format where possible.
- Do not stack containers in low lying areas for fear of flooding; storm surge is common.
- Store small and loose equipment indoors. Clean up the facility and remove all debris that could be potential missile.
- Where possible reduce the volume of cargo on site – stop accepting export containers 2 -3 days prior to the forecast storm. Request lines to take arrange delivery of as many import containers as possible in the same period.
- Clear debris from storm pin points and drainage systems. Ensure that pumps are fully operational where used to avoid floods.
A more comprehensive storm preparedness checklist is contained the TT Club's handbook 'WindStorm II: Practical risk management guidance for marine & inland terminals', available free to Members and at a cost of £36 to others.
We hope that you have found the above interesting. If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any colleagues who you may feel would be interested.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Risk Management Director, TT Club