Minister of Tourism attends launch of Darwin Initiative ‘Saving the Iguana Islands’

On 7th April 2017, the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Ralph Higgs joined the National Trust as they prepared for the launch of the Darwin plus Initiative entitled ‘Saving the Iguana Islands’.

The National Trust in partnership with other stakeholders including the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds(RSPB), San Diego Global Zoo and Department of Agriculture amongst others, have, over the years diligently work to conserve the endemic Rock Iguana, and other native reptile species to secure a future for these unique and highly threatened species – which are iconic for the Turks and Caicos Islands and serves as a major attraction for both locals and visitors alike.

The project has received support from the Darwin plus Initiative in the form of £200k with £170k matched funding by RSPB and San Diego Zoo Global for a three year period. The organizations will collectively work to improve and control alien invasive species on Little Water Cay (‘Iguana Island’), particularly rodents and feral cats which are a threat to the iguana populations. Biosecurity for Little Water Cay and Big Ambergris Cay will also be designed to ensure that these invasive species and other potential harmful species do not become established and threatened the iguanas and other native reptiles.

Minister Higgs in his remarks stated; “My love, respect and admiration for the work and successes of the National Trust is well known and documented, the Darwin Initiative has the experience to make the Rock iguana project in TCI a resounding success.”

The Darwin Initiative funds projects that help countries rich in biodiversity to meet their objectives. Projects typically address threats to biodiversity such as: over-exploitation, invasive species, habitat degradation and loss, climate change mitigation and adaptation and pollution. 

The Minister confirmed the Ministry’s and Government’s continued support to projects such as these and also indicated his desire to see the Trust and Darwin Initiative partner on future projects.

Below Average Hurricane Season Forecast For 2017

On Thursday 6th April, 2017, researchers group at Colorado State University issued their preliminary predictions for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

This year, it is forecasted that we can expect a less active season with eleven (11) named storms. Preliminary predictions indicates that four (4) will become hurricanes and two (2) will become major hurricanes (Category 3 or 5).  This is attributed to the potential of a weak to moderate El Nino developing during the peak of the season. The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.

An average season in the Atlantic consists of twelve (12) named storms, six (6) hurricanes and two (2) major hurricanes. 

This year as part of Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies’ (DDME’s) Hurricane Preparedness Month Campaign under the theme “Are You Ready for The Unexpected!,” the DDME would like to encourage all residents, businesses, schools, government and non-government organization to prepare effectively and not to become complacent due to the preliminary predictions.  It only takes one storm to make a memorable season!

The 2017 Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and runs through November 30 2017.  Further predictions will be provided on June 1, July 3 and August 2, 2017. 


For additional information see biographies for EMAP Assessors attached or visit the EMAP website at


Hurricane Aircraft Reconnaissance Tour (CHAT) Providenciales

Aircraft reconnaissance plays an extremely important role in monitoring the track and intensity of tropical cyclones.  Every hurricane season, the US Air Force and NOAA Reconnaissance Hurricane aircraft provides valuable meteorological data not available from any other source. 

The USAF 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the Hurricane Hunters of the Air Force Reserve, has been flying into tropical storms and hurricanes since 1944.  It is the only operational unit in the world flying weather reconnaissance on a routine basis.  The Hurricane Hunters provide surveillance of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean.

On 27th April, 2017, NOAA’s National Weather Service, in partnership, with the United States Air Force, Hurricane Hunters, will be visiting the Turks and Caicos Islands as part of the 2017 Caribbean Awareness Tour (CHAT).The delegation will be led by Dr. Richard Knabb, Director of NOAA’s, National Hurricane Center.

CHAT is an annual tour which aims to raise hurricane awareness across Latin America and the Caribbean, and to maintain and expand partnerships among the NHC, U.S. Northern Command, Air Force and neighbors in the region. The tour by the aircraft to the islands and countries in the region is an excellent opportunity for the relevant authorities involved in storm/warning/disaster management and the public-at-large to see the aircraft, meet and speak to the US Air Force crew and the civilian hurricane specialists involved. This will be the first time the aircraft will be visiting the TCI.

During the visit, a brief Media event has been schedule by the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies. Following, Government officials and students from the Public and Private schools on Providenciales, will be given a tour of the Aircraft Reconnaissance. The tour will allow persons to see first-hand the extremely important role in monitoring the track and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes.

Public hurricane awareness in the region is essential for adequate hurricane preparedness and response. Ushering the commencement of DDME’s Hurricane Preparedness Month starting 1st May, 2017, CHAT will play an instrumental role in peaking public’s interest and increasing awareness in the Turks and Caicos as it relates to the hurricane threat. It also serves to strengthen national and international partnerships for storm warning and emergency response.