November 30th marks the end of the hurricane season for 2019 and with a sigh of relief the residents of the Cayman Islands are thankful that we were spared again this year.
Living in paradise has its risks and amidst the clear blue waters and warm temperatures the occasional tropical system will arrive with its strong winds and devastating ocean surges. It is not a question of “if” but “when”. We must always be prepared and pay close attention to flooding when we are purchasing/building our home or even purchasing a vehicle.
According to Wikipedia, The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is an ongoing event in the annual formation of tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere and also the fourth consecutive year of above-average and damaging seasons dating back to 2016, although many of the storms were weak and short-lived. With 18 named storms, the season is tied with 1969 for the fourth-most named storms since reliable records began in 1851. The season officially began on June 1 and will end on November 30. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin and are adopted by convention. However, tropical cyclogenesis is possible at any time of the year, as demonstrated by the formation of Subtropical Storm Andrea on May 20, marking the record fifth year in a row where a tropical or subtropical cyclone developed before the official start of the season, breaking the previous record of four years set in 1951–1954 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Atlantic_hurricane_season#cite_note-1). This was also the second year in a row in which no tropical cyclones formed during the month of June.
The season's first hurricane, Barry, formed in mid-July in the northern Gulf of Mexico and struck Louisiana. After five weeks of inactivity, the tropics began to ramp up in late August with a few storms developing, including Hurricane Dorian, which struck the Windward Islands and United States Virgin Islands as a strengthening tropical cyclone. Dorian then rapidly intensified into a Category 5 hurricane on approach to the Bahamas, where it devastated Great Abaco, Grand Bahama and surrounding Islands before proceeding up the Eastern Seaboard, where it also caused considerable damage.
In September, Hurricane Humberto brought heavy rains and hurricane-force winds to Bermuda, Tropical Storm Imelda quickly formed over the Gulf of Mexico before it made landfall in Texas, causing catastrophic flooding. Lorenzo became the easternmost Category 5 Atlantic hurricane on record, and the French ship Bourbon Rhode sank after sailing through it. With Dorian and Lorenzo, the season became the fourth consecutive season to feature at least one Category 5 hurricane (Matthew in 2016; Irma and Maria in 2017 and Michael in 2018). It also became one of seven seasons to feature multiple Category 5 hurricanes.
In 6 months we will be welcoming another hurricane season with hopes and wishes for an uneventful period. We are not out of the woods yet. Norwester season can also have significant weather events with high seas and cool temperatures. Many individuals blame climate change for these unusual weather events but one thing is certain, when the time arrives we will be at the mercy of the elements.