MWXC Blog

Where to spend “Hurricane Season” in the Bahamas/Caribbean?

In response to a question about where (in Bahamas/Caribbean) to spend Hurricane Season:

It might help to break your thought process into 2 parts:

1. Avoidance: Lying in places where Tropical LO pressure systems of significant intensity are highly-unusual.

2. Protection: Selecting a relatively-secure spot when you lie in areas at higher risk.

First, AVOIDANCE:

Safest place I can think of in Caribbean/Bahamas area is Panama – I don’t know that a Tropical LO has ever (in recorded history) seriously impacted Panama (I’m not saying one can’t, but it seems unlikely).

From an avoidance perspective, 2nd safest place is probably Colombia, followed by ABCs/Venezuela, and Trinidad/Tobago. All of these areas have some risk for Tropical LO pressure systems – but, because of the normal E-to-W progression of such systems, these areas are prone to being impacted by the LEFT-quadrant of the LO (the WEAK quadrant, but a quadrant with W-component wind)…AND Tropical LOs S of Latitude 12N tend to be relatively-weak.

Second, PROTECTION:

When you’re in a higher-risk area, the more advance warning you have of an impending system, the more options you have to secure your vessel in an optimum location. I can help you with this by providing the maximum advance warning, and offering an educated guess on the plausible tracks a system might take, as well as its plausible intensity.

Unlike most forecasts which focus on 1 single correct solution, I try to appraise you of all “plausible” risks.

Almost any location can be a good spot in a Hurricane – if it’s in the correct place relative to the path of the Hurricane.

That said, there are certainly places which offer very good protection in all but the worst-case scenarios:

The most-secure spot for protection may be Luperon,DR, for at-least 3 reasons:

1. DR N Coast would be in the LEFT-quadrant of a W-moving LO
2. most Hurricanes track W or N-of-W, and thus, before reaching Luperon, would travel over-or-adjacent-to the large landmass of DR E of Luperon (and likely PuertoRico) – weakening the LO before it gets to Luperon
3. in order to be impacted by the RIGHT-quadrant of a Hurricane, it would almost certainly be moving from S-to-N, and would cross the large & mountainous Hispanola landmass before reaching Luperon.

RioDulce, Guatemala is an excellent spot – it’s up a river.

Other than Luperon and the RioDulce, there are MANY good “Hurricane Holes” – but probably none of them offers 100% protection when hit in just-the-wrong-way by a Cat5 Hurricane.

Among the many good Hurricane Holes (and there are LOTS of others in addition to these):

  • Several spots in Abacos
  • Georgetown,Exuma
  • Salinas, PR
  • A few select spots in StMartin, Antigua, StLucia, Grenada, among others

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TIMING of Hurricane Season:

Of course, Hurricane Season “officially” runs from June 1 thru November 30.

But Tropical LOs have occurred in the Atlantic N of the Equator in every month except 1 – I believe it’s February. Weather does not obey the calendar, and, if the right (or should I say wrong) conditions come together, a Hurricane is possible anytime.

That said, the most active part of the season varies by geography:

For E Caribbean, probably 95% of Tropical LOs pass from August 1 to October 15 (“Cape Verde Season”, where LOs tend to develop in E Tropical Atlantic). Probably 90% of systems pass in just 6-weeks, from August 15 to September 30. But I can recall Tropical LOs in recent years in every month from April to November – indeed “wrong-way-Lenny” raked the NE Caribbean as a Cat5 in mid-November!

For W Caribbean (and all areas N of the Caribbean), high-risk times are longer…not only is there high risk from LOs moving W from E Caribbean (during the “middle” of season)…but also from LOs which develop along stalled ColdFRONTs, (during the “ends” of season from April-July and October-December).

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