Editorial for 23 October: Hurricane season not over

As the calendar moves toward late October, many Cayman
Islands residents let down their guard when it comes to hurricanes. They
shouldn’t.

October and November historically have been two of the most
dangerous months of the hurricane season for Cayman as experienced as recently
as 2008 when Hurricane Paloma wreaked destruction on Cayman Brac and Little
Cayman in the second week of November. Around the same date in November 1932,
Cayman’s deadliest hurricane devastated Cayman Brac in particular, causing the
deaths of 110 people,

In the past 15 years, late October has spawned some intense
and damaging hurricanes in the western Caribbean including Hurricane Mitch –
which killed almost 19,000 people in Central America – in 1998, Hurricane
Michelle in 2001 and Hurricane Wilma – the most intense hurricane on record in
the Atlantic Basin – in 2005.

Because the steering patterns for weather systems in the
western Caribbean tend to be weak this time of year, storms can just hang
around and brew in sea surface temperatures that are still extremely warm,
allowing tropical cyclones to sometimes intensify rapidly once they form.
Hurricane Wilma, for instance, went from a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane
in just 12 hours.

Strong storms don’t need to come very close to Cayman to do
a lot of damage. Hurricane Michelle passed about 150 miles west of Grand
Cayman, but still caused some $28 million of damage, mostly from heavy surf
along the west coast.

A tropical cyclone is brewing right now in the Caribbean
Sea. Although it is forecast to head to Jamaica, every single resident and
visitor in the Cayman Islands should pay close attention to this storm over the
next couple of days.

As good as the various computer models are getting at
forecasting storm tracks, late-season storms can make unpredictable turns that
could put their track much closer to the Cayman Islands very quickly. It is
there for advisable to remain vigilant until the end of hurricane season on 30
November, remembering that even the current storm may not be the season’s last
hurrah.

 

Comments are closed.