Turks & Caicos - Climate

The average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 degrees (29-32 degrees celsius) from June to October, sometimes reaching the mid 90’s (35 degrees celsius), especially in the late summer months. From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees (27-29 degrees celsius). Water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 degrees (28-29 degrees celsius) and in winter about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26 degrees celsius).

A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level. There is an annual rainfall of 21 inches on Grand Turk and South Caicos, but further west the average rainfall could increase to 40 inches. In an average year the Turks and Caicos has 350 days of sunshine.

The hurricane season in the Caribbean normally runs from June to November. In 2008, the Turks and Caicos Islands was struck by two tropical cyclones within three days of each other, Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike. The latter passed just south of the Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 4 hurricane, with 135 mph winds, affecting primarily the islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and South Caicos. Utilities such as electricity and water were disrupted during and for an extended period after the hurricane’s passage. There was damage to 95% of the buildings particularly on Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and South Caicos.

The National Health Emergency Management Unit (NHEMU), established in 2009, is responsible for the coordination of activities designed to prepare for, monitor, mitigate, and respond to public health threats and disasters. The NHEMU works in partnership with Ministry of Health units and departments as well as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), hospital administrators, and the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DOME) and their regional and international stakeholders.

"As an island country the TCI and other nations are incredibly vulnerable." Those were the words of Kathleen Wood, director of the Department of Maritime and Environmental Affairs (DEMA), responding in a telephone interview 02 October 2013 to being asked about the impact of global warming on the TCI.

The Turks and Caicos Islands are two groups of 40 islands and cays separated by a deep water channel. Only 8 islands are inhabited. The majority of infrastructure and settlements in the Turks & Caicos Islands, including government, health, commercial and transportation facilities, are located on or near the coast and these areas already face pressure from natural forces (wind, waves, tides and currents), and human activities, (beach sand removal and inappropriate construction of shoreline structures). The impacts of climate change will magnify these pressures and accelerate coastal erosion.

The TCI government is seeking to include climate change adaptation strategies into the disaster management system of the Turks and Caicos Islands in a region-wide collaborative effort that is expected to prepare vulnerable Caribbean nations for the effects of climate change.

Caribbean Tourism Organization member countries have only 1% of the world’s population but attracts 3% of global tourism arrivals and expenditure. TCI tourism product is largely based on the country’s natural assets of sea, sand, sun and its marine biodiversity. Most of the country’s tourism plant is in its coastal habitat, making the product extremely vulnerable to the impacts of Climate Change. The impacts of Climate Change can impact the country’s famed Queen Conch and the Spiny Lobster.

The world’s climate is changing. The earth’s climate is changing, because human activities have increased the amount of Green House Gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.GHGs producing fossil fuels for our homes, businesses, hotels, and for transportation needs. Excess GHGs in the atmosphere makes the earth warmer; thus resulting in climate change. 2014 was ranked as the warmest year on record, with global temperatures 0.68C (1.24F) above the long term average, according to NASA and NOAA researchers.

Increases in temperatures will manifest itself with extremes in temperature, increases in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms, droughts and floods, making tourism dependent destinations, such as TCI, more vulnerable to the adverse impacts of these types of natural disasters.

While Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), including TCI, contributes less than 1% to Global Green House Gas Emissions, they bear the greatest burden to the multiple impacts of Climate Change. For example, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 resulted in estimated direct losses of US$900 Million in Grenada, more than twice the country’s GDP, with over 90% of hotel stock damaged or destroyed.

Given that Caribbean Islands are small in size, in particular small multiple island states such as TCI, any disaster can potentially destroy decades of public/private sector capital investments and development, often followed by a slow and costly recovery process.

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