Editorial for 04 October: Beware storms may be on way

Even though we’ve had very active hurricane
season with 16 named storms already in the Atlantic Basin, it’s been very quiet
in Cayman’s part of the Caribbean.

That could change this month.

Throughout history, some of the worst
storms Cayman has experienced occurred in October or early November, with most
of these storms having their genesis in the southwest Caribbean. We only have
to think back three years, to November 2008, when Hurricane Paloma formed in
this part the Atlantic Basin and moved northward, barely sparing Grand Cayman
but devastating Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

The waters in the Caribbean are plenty warm
enough to support hurricane formation and rapid intensification. In October
2005, Hurricane Wilma becomes the most intense hurricane on record in the
Atlantic Basin when it formed a little more than 200 miles east southeast of
Grand Cayman. Luckily for us, but very unluckily for people in Mexico, Wilma
headed northwest. However, because steering currents tend to be weak this time
of year, storms are just as likely to head northeast, which is exactly what
Wilma did after stalling out over the Yucatan Peninsula for two days.

Although all three Cayman Islands are small
land masses in a big Caribbean Sea, hurricanes don’t have to come very close to
cause a lot of damage. In early November 2001, Hurricane Michelle – another
hurricane that formed in the southwest Caribbean – caused some $28 million of
damage on Grand Cayman from storm surge, even though it passed about 150 miles away.

The clear point of all of this is that
hurricane season is far from over, and in certain ways, the most dangerous
portion for the Cayman Islands is yet to come. Unlike the Cape Verde storms
that travel across the entire tropical Atlantic and take a week or two to get
to Cayman – if they don’t recurve out to sea – storms that form in the
southwest Caribbean can be on top of us in a matter of days.

It is important that everyone remain
vigilant and prepared for the possibility of a major storm or even a hurricane.

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