Hurricane Dean: 24 Hours Out and Looking Good for Playa
Posted by Tony & Cheri on August 20, 2007
We woke up this morning to more good news, for us at least. Hurricane Dean continues to look like it will move southward, making landfall somewhere–according the local press–between the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Majuahal, both of which are substantially south of Playa del Carmen. Of course, it’s not all good news. The hurricane is going to hit someplace, and somebody is going to have to suffer through it. And, we’re not out of the woods yet. While it looks better and better that we aren’t going to be hit by the eye of the hurricane, we’re going to get something. This is a big ass storm (that’s a technical weather term). It spreads out for hundreds of miles.
Part of the danger that exists from the storm hitting the southern Yucatan is the fact that between Playa del Carmen and the border with Belize a couple of hundred miles away, there are few major cities. There is, instead, a number of isolated villages and pueblos, and sometimes just houses by themselves, scattered through the Sian Kaan Biosphere, which is an internationally protected section of the tropical rainforest. Many of these villages are not accessible except by foot. If they are lucky, they will have a single radio for the entire area. We heard on CNN International this morning, which was broadcasting from Playa del Carmen, that federal troops were evacuating people from the isolated villages within the Biosphere. Once again, we are incredibly impressed with the response of the Mexican government to this situation.
Living outside the United States offers an amazing array of opinion and news information that is just not readily available back home. Here we watch CNN International and the BBC and listen to internet radio and read internet newspapers. It really makes you realize how much larger the world is than just the borders of the US.
While the chances that we will experience hurricane force winds diminish hourly, we’re still going to be hit by the fingers of the storm which carry tropical storm force winds of between 40 and 80 mph. This, combined with even higher gusting winds and rain, are going to give us about 24 hours of very nasty weather. So, if you were one of the smart ones who flew out early to avoid the hurricane, you still did the right thing.
This morning in Playa it’s beautiful. It’s very warm with a temperature of around 85 degrees. But it’s also very muggy as Dean, somewhere out in the Caribbean, is kicking a lot of moisture up into the air. It’s also very calm right now with a strange soft sort of light. This is what people are talking about when they refer to ‘the calm before the storm.’ But there still will be a storm.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s data this morning, Playa del Carmen currently has about a 70 percent chance of experiencing tropical storm force winds, being winds of 39 mph or more and sustained for a minute or more (not just gusts). It looks like that percentage will go up as Hurricane Dean moves cloer to shore. We also currently have about a 20 percent chance of experiencing hurricane force winds, being winds of 74 mph or more and sustained for a minute or more. This may also go higher as Dean moves closer, depending on whether he wobbles north or south in making landfall. Click on this picture to go to the National Hurricane Center site with the most up to date figures. Of course, Dean being a Category 4/potential Category 5 hurricane, wind force is much higher than 74 mph. Near the eye of the storm it is something like 200 mph.
We’re off now to do a final walk through before closing the Luna Blue. The last two guests will be gone this morning. We’ll have only two people seeking shelter from the storm. Mario, our regular night watchman, lives in a trailer, which he’s quite proud of here, in Playa del Carmen. However, it would not be particularly safe in a major storm. So he, his dog, and his cat are moving into one of the rooms. Our good friend Dave from Paamul will also be taking over one of the rooms. Like Mario, he lives in a trailer and will ride out the storm at the Luna Blue with his little dog. Dave is going to be staying in the same room in which he rode out Hurricane Wilma two years ago!
After the walk through, we’re going to try and find a mechanic to get the Big Bastard started and try to transfer our generator home. We may be hauling it by hand truck for a couple of blocks. By then we should just be starting to get the first wind and rain and will be heading home to hunker down with the pets.
We have no idea given the uncertainty of how severe the storm will be here whether we will lose power or not. Our best guess is that we will be incomunicado during the storm. It might be for a couple of hours; it might be for a couple of days. To our friends and family: don’t worry, we’ll be fine. We’ll try and fire up the generator and get enough power to post on our blog, assuming our cable and/or phone lines stay intact. We’re not hopeful. After all, this IS Mexico. Regardless, we’ll get word out at the first opportunity about how we are and how Playa is.
Keep a good thought, and if you’re so inclined, say a prayer for the people who are still in the storm’s path.
Once again, thanks to everybody for the kind words, emails, telephone calls, etc.
Hasta luego, amigos.
Tony & Cheri