icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

DON'S LOG: stories, experience and advice

Tracking Hurricanes

After being caught in 1984 on the north side of St Martins by late season , mid november hurricane Klaus and surviving using six of Iolalire’s seven anchors,(click here for full story) I decided that I had to do some research. Klaus was the first hurricane anyone could remember that headed NE in the low latitudes.

I obtained the NOAA book, Tropican Cyclones of the North Atlantic ocean 1871 to 1978 with up dates to 1984. I studied the tracks of all hurricanes approach the eastern Caribbean below 19 N,  1871 thru 1984.

I realize that all hurricanes or potential hurricanes approach the Caribbean from the Cape Verde area as long as they stay below 19 north track westwards never altering course more than 5 degrees in 24 hours. With very few exceptions all alterations of course were to the north. If a hurricane took a zig to the south the  zig seldom lasted more than 48 hours.

However Irma was different. Irma went to 19 06 N then took a 5 degree south for three days. Irma was only the second hurricane since 1851 to head south for three days before turning west then NW. Irma was the first hurricane since 1851 to go above 19 N and then head south.

In light of the above it is very easy to figure where the hurricane will hit the islands of the eastern Caribbean.

Hurricanes as they approach the Caribbean are usually small in diameter, but often very intense. Dominica has been destroyed twice in recent times, in 1979 and in 2017 yet in both cases the south end of Guadalopue, and the north end of Martinique did not suffer major damage.

Once the hurricanes pass into the warm waters of the Caribbean, or north of the islands and to the warm water of the Bahamas they usually increase in intensity and size. Also once in the Caribbean they tracks are hard to predict. Similarly once north of the Caribbean their tracks are extremely difficult to predict.

If they reach  the  warm waters  of the   Bahamas they frequently build up in size and intensity. Dorina was  relatively small when it hit  the  islands and passed  thru the  Virgins but  when it reached the  warm water of the Bahamas  it built  in size and  intensity completely demolishing  Andros.

As a result of Hugo in 1989 I wrote in all four of my guides Reflections on Hugo. This was followed by eighteen articles in Caribbean Compass, US and UK magazines, Had my advise been followed in 2017 hundreds of boats would not have been sunk and millions of dollars of insurance claims would not have had to be paid.

After the hurricane disasters of 2017 I obtained the new Hurricane book that covered the tracks of all hurricanes from 1851 to 2006 with up dates thru 2017. I again studied the track of all hurricane approaching the Caribbean below 19 north. After tracking every hurricane 1851 to 2017 I confirmed what I have said above.

I very much doubt if any one else in the world has sat down and studied hurricane tracks approaching the Caribbean below 19 N as often and as carefully as have I.

I have compiled the table below of how often the major yachting centers had been it by hurricanes tropical storms, or major depressions.

Hurricane winds above force 12 beaufort scale,64 knots mph mps

TS tropical storm force 9 beaufort scale 50/ 63 knots mph mps

TD tropical depression force 7/8 braufort scale 40/49 knots mph mps but tons of rain that will turn unpaved land into a quagmire, stands sink in soft earth, boats fall over.

The table below is broken upw with the  number of  hurricanes that have afected the area, the total period for which hurricanes tracks are available, then the period since yachting became a major industry in the eastern Caribbean, then comments on how the hurricanes have affected the island or area

1851/2017(166 years) 1975/2017 (42 years)

Area 1851/2017
(166 years)
(42 years)
Eastern PR 14 7 three TS one TD. Marina Puerto del Rey proved to be the safest place in hurricane alley to store a boat either afloat or ashore Losses absolutely minimal afloat and ashore
Virgin Islands 22 6

5 TS 3 of them in 1933 all recent hurricane have Been total disasters to boats stored ashore, major Disasters to boats in marinas and to boats that fled To so called hurricane holes, there are none they All too crowded

St Martin 21 8

5 TS three of them in 1933, 2 TD all hurricanes have been total disasters as Simson Lagoon and Oyster Pond were over crowded with boats, many poorly Anchored. Ashore disasters except in Bobby storage Where boats were stored in heavy wooden With mast out.

Antigua 17 4

5 TS prior to 1900, 2 H in 1899. English harbour is Very much over rated as a hurricane hole. In Gonzales sprank up 90 miles east of Antigua, but suddenly developed into major hurricane but Luckily swept across the island very rapidly

Martinique 20 5

5 TS 3 TD amazingly all the hurricanes centers Have passed north of south of Martinique, Have scored a direct hit. If a hurricane score Direct hit on Marin, insurance losses will Catastrophic

St Lucia 17 6

12 TS none of the hurricanes have caused Damage, centers have been either north or South No major damage to the yachting sector.

Gremadines 24 6

16 TS 2 TD since 86 6 TS and two H, and no Where to hide in the grenadaines

Grenada 3 1

The vast majority have been TS. Grenada Was hit dead on by H 1856, 1955, 2004 but Was brushed by hurricanes, 1877, 2005, In 1963 hurricane passed south of Grenada Ended up stalling for three days over eastern End of Cuba, Castro blamed US for seeding Hurricane and causing it to stall over cuba

Trinidad     Trinidad no hurricanes 5 TS all hitting south end of Trinidad
Be the first to comment