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35 million children are under threat in most active Atlantic hurricane season ever - Save the Children

Press Release

Photo: Hurricane Otis damage last October - Miguel Vera/ Save the Children

LONDON,  20 June 2024 – About 35 million children are living in areas exposed to Atlantic hurricanes during what could be the most active hurricane season in recorded history, Save the Children said.

According to  new analysis by the child rights organisation, around 126 million people– of whom almost three in 10 are children–live in hurricane-prone areas in parts of the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean, and eastern Canada. [1] 

Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, is expected to make landfall in northern Mexico on Thursday, bringing strong winds and heavy rainfall, and potentially affecting more than 430,000 people, including 100,000 children.

The Atlantic hurricane season officially started this month and runs to the end of November. Researchers at the Colorado State University (CSU) predict 23 named storms this season, with 11 to become hurricanes and five to reach major hurricane strength (Category 3-5). While the National Hurricane Center in the US predicts the North Atlantic could see up to 25 named storms and four to seven major hurricanes by the end of November.   

This level of activity is 170% greater than the average season from 1991–2020, according to CSU researchers, mainly due to record warm sea surface temperatures due to human-induced climate change, the development of La Nina conditions in the Pacific, reduced Atlantic trade winds and less wind shear.  

Storms travelling across warming ocean waters draw in more water vapour and heat, leading to accelerated wind speeds and the potential to cause more damage if the storm makes landfall.

Children and families living in Haiti are particularly vulnerable this hurricane season, with more than 578,000 people displaced so far this year as parts of the country are overrun by armed gangs. The last major hurricane to hit the country – Hurricane Matthew in 2016 – killed nearly 600 people and left over 35,000 homeless. Several regions in the north of Haiti have already been hit by heavy rains this year, which triggered deadly flooding and landslides last month. 

As the climate crisis intensifies the frequency and severity of extreme weather events and coastal areas become more populated, millions of children in storm-prone areas face increased risks like floods, landslides, damage to homes and schools, heightened exposure to disease, and even death.  

Moa Cortobius, Save the Children’s Regional Climate Change Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean said:  

“The climate crisis is making extreme weather events such as hurricanes and tropical storms more frequent and severe, affecting millions of children around the world – with those already disadvantaged by poverty and inequality, like in Haiti, at the sharp end. 

“If a major hurricane makes landfall in Haiti this season, the destruction and loss of life could be catastrophic due to the current instability in the country.  It is essential that humanitarian organisations can provide support to protect vulnerable communities before and after a major hurricane makes landfall.  

“Ultimately, it is human-induced climate change and a failure to limit warming temperatures that is driving these events and putting children’s rights and lives on the line. We need to see ambitious and urgent action to limit warming temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, or the already dramatic consequences for children’s health, safety, and wellbeing will intensify even further.

“We also need to ensure children’s rights, needs, and voices are placed at the heart of the response to climate change." 

In Haiti, Save the Children is helping children and their families become better prepared for disasters and climate changes through its Allo Lekòl project in two regions of the country, South and Grand-Anse. The project is helping local authorities and community groups become better at handling disasters and climate changes, and supporting families, especially the most vulnerable, to learn new ways to earn money and become more resilient if a disaster strikes. Children are also learning to become leaders and advocates for environmental and climate issues. 

Save the Children’s emergency response experts have compiled ways to stay safe during the 2024 hurricane season. Learn how to help protect your children during and after disasters.   


Notes to Editor: 

[1] To calculate children at risk Save the Children looked at how many children live in areas in Latin America and the Caribean (LAC) and Canada that are at risk of hurricanes based on the history of hurricane trajectories data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Category 1 +). For the USA, we used the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) list of areas that are at moderate to high risk of hurricanes. Child populations for all countries were based on NASA’s Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). 

[2] The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the main governing body to issue watches and warnings for much of the Atlantic Basin, predicted for 17-25 total named storms, eight to 13 hurricanes, and four to seven major hurricanes. 


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