The H Word

1 June 2010

The 2010 hurricane season is predicted to be more active than the average for the 1950-2000 seasons. The December 2009 report estimates approximately 11-16 named storms, 6-8 hurricanes and 3-5 major hurricanes occurring during the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which is more typical of years in an active era, such as the 1995 season.

–          Colorado State University

Today marks the beginning of Hurricane Season in this part of the world.  As if on cue, just a couple of days ago a fierce wind and rain storm swept across the island, whipping the Caribbean Sea into a frenzy and turning a dozen breakfast patrons in my hotel into a huddling mass, just watching the water.

Since I arrived here, the H word has been bandied about with disturbing regularity, and I’ve learned a little about what to expect.

First, the good news: St Kitts hasn’t had a bad hurricane for around 7 years, and David tells me that maybe they get a bad one every 10 years, so I suppose that’s good and bad.  Odd are, though, this might be The Year.

A few years ago, Grenada got flattened, and one of the guys I am working with on this project had to lead the recovery effort there.  He had to make his way back on emergency flights from New York, where he and his wife were visiting, and work his way through housing, food, water and other needs for the islanders in the wake of Hurricane Ivan.

Mostly, people have educated me about the good signs – cool water and rain among them – which mean that a hurricane isn’t likely since they are attracted to the heat.  I think of this every time it rains, which is fairly often, although only for short bursts before things clear up and it warms up again.

Reportedly, there will be around 2 days warning before a hurricane is due and, being a small island, chances are that it will pass us by.  However, when a warning comes, people get busy buying up tinned food and cooking up everything from their freezer since the electricity will go off (often for days or well over a week), as well as putting up shutters in front of glass to ensure nothing flies into it.  The numerous beach shacks on my little beach simply get smashed, which is why they are such simple structures as they need to be re-built each time.

On one hand, it goes without saying that I’d like to avoid a hurricane.  On the other, my curiosity gets the better of me and I’m (somewhat disturbingly) interested to experience one face to face (well, assuming there’s not too much damage and I have plenty of food, books and stuff to amuse me, of course…).

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1 Comment

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One response to “The H Word

  1. It will make for a mighty good blog post if you get caught in a hurricane. Don’t forget to take some snaps on your iPhone as the howling winds lift you off the ground and swirl you over the Caribbean. Reporter-on-the ground style (well, in the air maybe).

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