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Understanding Hurricanes 101

Understanding Hurricanes 101

Being located in the beautiful Caribbean Sea means Jamaica is at risk from the Atlantic hurricane season and usually sees some hurricane activity each year. Therefore every citizen should educate themselves and understand basic hurricane facts and terminology.

Knowing more about hurricanes means you can be prepared for storms before they happen. Preparing your home, taking out appropriate property insurance coverage, and making an evacuation plan with your family are important steps to getting ready for hurricane season.

All About Hurricanes

Although hurricane season runs from June to November, Jamaica has two seasons of heightened hurricane activity during the year – August to mid-September and the second part of October.

The Saffir-Simpson Scale

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a rating scale developed to rank a storm’s maximum sustained wind speed. The scale is from Category 1 to Category 5, with Category 1 storms being the least severe and Category 5 storms being the most severe.

It is important to remember the Saffir-Simpson Scale is a measure of wind speed only – it does not factor in the other catastrophic hurricane conditions that may be present, like rainfall, flooding, storm surges, and tornadoes.

Naming Conventions

The World Meteorological Organization names tropical storms. They maintain a list of 21 male and female names used on a six-year rotation. Names have been identified for Atlantic tropical storms through 2026.

The custom of naming storms began as an easy and quick way to identify the storm when speaking about it to render aid, coordinate emergency response, and help people injured or displaced by the storm.

When a storm is particularly volatile, causing lots of fatalities and damage, the name is retired from use, and future storms will not reuse the name. This happened recently after Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Hurricane Watch vs. Hurricane Warning

A hurricane watch is less severe and means that hurricane-like conditions are possible in the area where the watch was issued. On the other hand, a hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere in the warning zone.

If you are under a hurricane watch, you should be prepared to evacuate if a warning is issued and prep your home for possible storms. In a hurricane warning, you should follow government directions and evacuate the area if advised, and always make sure to find out where the nearest shelter is for your community.

Major Historic Hurricanes and Estimated Costs

Jamaica has been hit by several large storms in history – who remembers the famous Hurricane Gilbert? The last 10 named storms to cause damage in Jamaica are:

  • Hurricane Matthew: October 3, 2016 – Estimated $2.58 billion in damages
  • Hurricane Sandy: October 24, 2012 – Estimated $2 billion in damages
  • Hurricane Paloma: November 8, 2008 – Estimated $454 million in damages
  • Hurricane Gustav: August 28, 2008 – Estimated $2.1 billion in damages
  • Hurricane Dean: August 19, 2007 – Estimated $1.66 billion in damages
  • Hurricane Wilma: October 17-18, 2005 – Estimated $700 million in damages
  • Hurricane Dennis: July 7, 2005 – Estimated $1.5 billion in damages
  • Hurricane Ivan: September 11, 2004 – Estimated $1.2 billion in damages
  • Hurricane Charley: August 11, 2004 – $923 million in damages
  • Hurricane Iris: October 7, 2001 – Estimated $250 million in damages

Final Thoughts

While hurricanes can be a costly and scary experience, they are a normal part of our island’s history. We all must try to be adequately prepared should one decide to hit or send showers and winds our way. Having the right preparations in place can make all the difference when hurricane season returns this year. Your peace of mind is invaluable, and protecting your family and your belongings with proper hurricane insurance is critical. How do I learn more about securing my assets against Hurricane damage? Now that you know more about hurricanes, you can contact the experts at IronRock Insurance Company for more information on protecting your assets. Our licensed professionals will be happy to answer any questions you have.


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