Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hurricane!


So, the plus side of going to Mexico during the low season is cheaper hotel rates, fewer tourists, turtle nesting season and whale shark season. The downside is that it's also rainy season and from June 1 to November 30, it's hurricane season in the Yucatán.

The good news is that major hurricanes are few and far between in the Yucatán, and that hurricanes, unlike tsunamis and earthquakes, take days to form so you have time to prepare.  Apparently, hurricanes take up to a week to cross the Atlantic Ocean after they leave the coast of Africa.

During hurricane season the people of the Yucatán monitor each and every swell that leaves Africa.
Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 mph are called "tropical depressions"; between 39 and 74 mph are called "tropical storms", and over 74 mph are called "hurricanes."

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categorizes hurricanes based on wind intensity:

Category 1: maximum sustained wind speeds of 74-95 mph.

Category 2: 96-110 mph.

Category 3: 111-130 mph.

Category 4: 131-155 mph.

Category 5: more than 155 mph.

So, though the odds may be low that a hurricane will hit the Yucatán peninsula, we still need to be alert to any news of an impending hurricane.  The hotels will inform guests and we can get information from the internet.  As well, there is a warning system used by the Yucatán State government that tells you what you should be doing according the stage and nearness of the hurricane:

Yellow alert (Preparation Stage).  Moderate danger.  Keep informed, locate temporary hurricane shelters and prepare for possible evacuation. Get important papers (IDs, passports, marriage/death/divorce certificates) and medications together. Use Zip-Lock bags.
Orange alert (Alarm Stage). Evacuate risky areas (beaches, coastal villages, low lands) and be on alert. Move to shelter. Take papers and medicines.
Red alert  (Evacuation Stage). Remain in the shelter and follow authorities’ instructions.

Of course, I hope and pray that the worse thing that will strike while we are in Mexico is a big thunderstorm.  I can handle lots of rain and even a tropical depression.  Winds over 155 mph that can toss cars around like they were toys would be mighty scary.  If I see trees bending at ninety degree angles, I will be heading for the nearest storm shelter!!