Today’s Editorial: Keeping hurricanes in perspective

By all accounts, Cayman was lucky.

Hurricane Dennis started in an area that was crossed by Hurricane Ivan, travelled a similar route, and ended up making landfall in the United States at almost the same place as Ivan.

The big difference, of course, is Dennis went north instead of south of Jamaica, and it missed the Cayman Islands as a result.

Regardless, Dennis caused a lot of anxiety with a lot of residents here; after Ivan, people are justifiably apprehensive about the approach of any tropical storm system.

Residents are now diligently monitoring weather sites and are nervously talking about mere tropical waves forming off the coast of Africa, more than 3,000 miles away.

A surprising amount of people here already knew about the Eastern Atlantic storm system that has become Tropical Depression Five and is likely to become Tropical Storm Emily.

While a certain degree of vigilance is appropriate for those living in the Caribbean during hurricane season, we must not allow ourselves to become overly concerned about every storm system that forms in the Atlantic Ocean.

Historically, the large majority of tropical cyclones that form in the Atlantic curve northward much before they reach the Cayman Islands.

In addition, the Cayman Islands remain a very small target in a very large Caribbean Sea.

While we might feel the effects – some wind, rain and waves – of a storm system passing north or south of us, unless it comes closer than 100 miles away, we probably will not experience too much damage here.

It will likely take two or three hurricane seasons for most residents of Grand Cayman to recover psychologically from the trauma of Hurricane Ivan.

A certain amount of hyper-vigilance about tropical storm systems can be expected.

But we should try to keep things in a proper perspective and not allow our fears to get out of hand to the point they are irrational and diminish the quality of our lives.

Scientists have said the Atlantic Basin is in the midst of a decades-long cycle of increased tropical cyclones.

Tropical storms and hurricanes will travel through the Caribbean and some will no doubt affect the Cayman Islands.

But the chances of another hurricane like Ivan causing such destruction here again any time soon are statistically slim, and we must strive to remember that as we go through this and other hurricane seasons.

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