Friday, October 14, 2011

Should I Be Concerned with Hurricanes in Belize?

Ambergris Caye is one of the best Caribbean Islands to live on when it comes to concerns from hurricanes. In my last blog post I spoke about why I feel safer here then any other Caribbean Island. In this blog post I'll give you some more stats and details.

First, look at this: Since 1951 there have only been 7 hurricanes that have hit Belize directly. Other have come close but as we all know its the direct hits with the high winds surrounding the eye of the storm that causes most of the problems.

In any given year Belize has only a 17% chance of getting hit by a hurricane. By comparison the State of Florida has 65% chance of getting hit.

Why doesn't Belize get too many hurricanes?

1. We are located very far to the west. The normal weather patterns usually turn hurricanes northward by the time they work their way across the Atlantic.

2. Also, we have a fairly short hurricane window. While the "official" window is from June through November history shows that almost all of the hurricanes to hit Belize have done so in the months of September and October. Hence we have a smaller window of opportunity then do other Caribbean Islands.

Finally, the main things that cause damage in a hurricane are high winds and storm surge. Most everything that is built here is built to withstand such high winds. We use solid concrete construction with hurricane resistant windows and doors. We also pour solid concrete roofs. When looking at the damage caused by a hurricane you'll find that most of it is due to the high winds ripping of the roofs. We prevent that from happening by building the way we do.

Also, the reef acts as a huge protection for us. In some places like Cancun and in Florida the water depth can be several hundred feet just a little ways offshore. This allows for the formation of damaging waves and storm surge. Ambergris Caye has a reef running its length just a few hundred yards of shore. This reef acts like a protective wall. It takes the brunt of the wave action so those that do reach the shore are limited in the damage they can cause.

So, in looking at all of the variables involved I would say that hurricanes should not even be a concern. We rarely get them but if we do you'll be able to get off the island to safety quickly, and most likely come back within a day or two. You property will most likely be as you left it accept for some debris in the yard. Within a few days all will be cleaned up and the skies will be blue!


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