Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hurricane season

The hurricane season began on June 1st and ends on the last day of November. This is my 9th full season and so far, touch wood, I have only been in the tail end of a Category One hurricane and maybe 6 or 7 tropical storms. They were bad enough so I am not looking forward to being in anything any stronger.

It has been raining every day since the season started,and this is the road outside the house. Walking in flip flops has become next to impossible as they just
get stuck in the mud.

Where we live now we should be less affected by hurricanes as they tend to hit the south of the island more than the north. And the north has more earthquakes than the south - not sure which I would prefer given the choice

During hurricane season I check the various hurricane websites every day. You need to be aware in advance of what is happening, especially
The hurricane web sites will show the amount of Saharan dust in the air - a lot is good as for some reason it dissipates hurricanes. Also the sea temperature - the hotter the sea the easier for a hurricane to grow. They also show the wind direction. I am not sure why, but in the early season they tend to head for the Dominican Republic and then veer northwards towards the Bahamas before they get too close. Then later on in the season, they go in a
straight line into the Caribbean sea, and then turn northwards, which is when we could get a direct hit. The web sites are very accurate about timing
as well. I remember one tropical storm which we were not really expecting to be close. I happened to check the website and it said it would be a direct hit at 6.30pm. By now it was around 4.30. I called my husband and told him to come home as a storm was coming, and we ate early. He told me I was exaggerating, and we sat down to play dominoes on our patio. At 6.30 on the dot the storm arrived. You get no warning apart from the fact that everything is very still and the birds stop singing - there is not a sound, no crickets, no frogs. The domino table was blown over, the trees bent over and the wind and the rain was ferocious. All the the Haitians and Dominicans who lived in huts nearby came to us for shelter that night. We had over 100 people in the the local news channels often are not, and my Dominican and Haitian friends rely on me for information.

And that was only a tropical storm.

Apart from the wind which destroys houses and downs power lines, the main problem is the water. Although this is a tropical island where heavy downpours are a way of life, there appears to be no efficient way to cope with the rains and flooding happens all of the time. As soon as a storm starts the authorities turn the electricity off to save hundreds being electrocuted as the wires are blown down. So not only do you have to cope with the wind and the water, you also have to do it in the dark.

The other thing to remember is the eye. The wind will come from one direction and then as the eye passes over, all is quiet. During Hurricane George which was the last Category 5 to hit, when the eye passed over there was bright sunlight and everyone went into the streets thinking it was over. An hour or so later it started again, this time with the wind coming from the opposite direction. Most of the injuries happen during the second half when people are in the open thinking it is all over, and they are hit by flying debris.

So, stay safe everyone this season.

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