Caribbean Spawning Ground
Published 12th October 2016, 4:51pm
At this time of year, in the middle of October attention shifts away from the west coast of Africa as the spawning ground for Atlantic Hurricanes and the focus becomes the Caribbean Sea.
The western Caribbean has become notorious for being the location where some of the world’s most intense hurricanes are born. Since 1950, half of the 22 hurricanes that reached Category 5 status in the Atlantic Basin did so in the Caribbean. This includes the two strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, in terms of central pressure: 2005's Hurricane Wilma and 1988's Hurricane Gilbert. The last Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes, 2007's powerful duo of Dean and Felix, were both in the Caribbean Sea. (Source: The Weather Channel).
In the month of October (and to a lesser degree November) the combination of moisture in the atmosphere, warm ocean temperature and winds make it the ideal nursery grounds for hurricanes.
While statistically the overall peak time for hurricanes is during the month of September, the Caribbean hurricane season reaches its peak during October (Source: the World Weather Travelers Guide). The surface ocean temperature during October is approximately 1°C warmer in the south-western parts of the Caribbean than any other month of the year and during this time, rainfall increases providing the necessary ingredients for a hurricane to form.
Forecasters are suggesting we need to begin watching the western Caribbean for potential development. According to Mark Sudduth of Hurricane Track, “All of the major global models are suggesting a large, sprawling area of low pressure will develop…Different models have different solutions for what happens after that so it’s best to just wait and see. For now, know that the western Caribbean is favored this time of year and, perhaps more importantly, the water temps in the region are as warm is it gets right now – so any disturbance that gets going in the region will have more than enough fuel to become a powerful hurricane. This is an area we will need to monitor very closely as we get in to the weekend and early next week.”
Residents in the Cayman Islands should do their best to be prepared throughout the Hurricane season which runs from June 1st to November 30th, but it is even more important to be ready at this time of year. The major threats from hurricanes include storm surge which can cause the sea to rise by over 12 feet in localized areas, very large waves and extremely strong winds.
Storm surge can travel inland and properties in low lying areas remain vulnerable even if they are miles away from the shoreline.
If your home is not able to withstand any one of these threats then plan to go somewhere else to ride out a hurricane – that could be to an emergency shelter, a strong office building or the home of another member of the family or a friend. All residents should also have a supply of non-perishable food and water. These are the absolute basics that all residents must have in place. More information about hurricane preparedness can be found in the hurricane preparedness brochure which is available on the Cayman Prepared website, or in the lobby area of the Government Administration Building.