It seems that – apart from COVID-19 – the weather might play a role in the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations. The Meteorological Department of St. Maarten issued a special update on Tuesday at 5:00pm saying the island would be affected by a strengthening high-pressure ridge.
Winds have been forecast to gust up to between 35 and 40 miles per hour Thursday night into Friday, close to tropical storm strength but not sustained, which obviously makes a big difference. Seas are apparently to peak at near 11 feet around then.
The good news is that associated rainfall was not expected to cause significant flooding and will thus likely be limited. This should allow for the lighting of fireworks unless it becomes too breezy.
Professionals who handle displays for which permits were given no doubt have the knowledge and experience as well as enough contact with the Fire Department and other relevant authorities to ensure responsible decision-making. While their use of barges off the coast may present a challenge due to marine conditions, it also means less risk for spectators on land. “The show must go on” as they say, but only if it is safe enough to do so.
As for the many residents lined up to buy fireworks on the first day sales to the public were allowed and others to follow, be extra careful. High winds can easily divert rockets or other types of airborne pieces and an accident is just around the corner.
Remember that these are explosive devices filled with gunpowder that have caused serious injury, including fatal ones, also in St. Maarten. Use them only as intended and maintain a secure distance all the time.
Please consider animals that are extremely sensitive to loud noise and suffer quite a bit during the festivities. Keep firecrackers away from areas with pets, but also elderly and/or sick persons.
Although especially after such a difficult year there is good reason to rejoice the arrival of 2021, under the circumstances both in terms of the pandemic and announced atmospheric conditions, it is more important than ever for people to apply common sense and avoid overdoing it.