The Heat Is Online

Hurricane Dean Leaves Path of Destruction in Caribbean

Hurricane Dean Batters Jamaica

The New York Times, Aug. 20,2007

Hurricane Dean buffeted Jamaica's southern coast, flooding the capital and littering it with broken trees and roofs after killing nine people earlier on its run through the Caribbean.

Dean was an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, the second-highest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. It could gain even more strength on Monday to become a potentially catastrophic Category 5 as it passes south of the Cayman Islands and heads for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller declared a month-long state of emergency and called a cabinet meeting to discuss the potential impact on Aug. 27 general elections.

The power company switched off electricity as the wind began to howl and pounding waves battered the southern coast.

Police said they shot and wounded two men caught trying to break into a business in the capital during the storm.

Torrents of rain pelted the capital Kingston and streets were blocked by toppled trees, utility poles and broken roofs. A man was missing after falling trees tore into his house.

The eye of the storm stayed just south of Jamaica but the intense wall of winds around the calm center pummeled the island.

"They're still getting pretty beaten up," hurricane center forecaster Dave Roberts said. "I know they were massively flooded from the reports that we had."

Mudslides were reported in several parts of the mountainous country of 3 million people.

Local media reported 17 fishermen and women had been stranded ahead of the storm on the Pedro Cays, a small island chain south of Kingston, directly in the path of the hurricane.

The government urged residents to go to shelters. But many people, including those in one low-lying seaport town close to Kingston, refused to flee.

"We are going nowhere," Byron Thompson said in the former buccaneer town of Port Royal, settled by pirate Henry Morgan in the 17th century. "In fact, if you come by here later today you will see me drinking rum over in that bar with some friends."

Dean packed sustained winds of 145 miles per hour (230 kph) and its eye was about 135 miles (215 km) west-southwest of Kingston at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 on Monday GMT).

HEADED FOR MEXICO

Storm warnings were also in effect for the Caymans and parts of Mexico, Cuba, Haiti and Belize. The latest computer tracking models forecast Dean would spare the U.S. Gulf Coast but slam into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, cross the Bay of Campeche and then hit central Mexico.

Thousands of frightened tourists on Mexico's Caribbean coast stood in line for hours at airports to flee before Dean's expected arrival.

Four people were killed in Haiti, where landslides destroyed several hundred houses, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

It said that brought to at least nine the number killed by Dean since it roared into the Caribbean as the first hurricane of what is expected to be an active 2007 Atlantic season.

Risk modeling company EQECAT Inc. estimated insured losses from Dean's rampage through the Caribbean islands at $1.5 billion to $3 billion, most of it in Jamaica.

Dean was moving west at 20 mph (32 kph) and was being watched closely by energy markets, which have been nervous since a series of storms in 2004 and 2005 toppled Gulf of Mexico oil rigs, flooded refineries and cut pipelines.

Mexico's Pemex oil company began evacuating 13,360 workers from its Gulf rigs.

The U.S. space shuttle Endeavour hastily left the orbiting International Space Station so it can land a day early in case the storm forces NASA to evacuate its Houston center.

Category 5 hurricanes are rare but in 2005 there were four, including Katrina, reinforcing research that suggests global warming may increase the strength of tropical cyclones.

 

Powerful Hurricane Dean Pounds Jamaica

Planetark.org, Aug. 20, 2007

 

KINGSTON - Fiercely powerful Hurricane Dean strafed Jamaica's southern coast on Sunday, littering the capital of Kingston with fallen trees and windblown roofs after killing six people earlier on its run through the Caribbean.

 

Dean was an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, the second-highest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, and could become a potentially catastrophic Category 5 near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

 

Jamaica's government declared a 48-hour curfew and the power company switched off electricity as the wind began to howl and pounding waves battered the southern coast.

 

Sheets of rain pelted Kingston and streets were blocked by toppled trees and utility poles. Dean ripped off several roofs and a man was missing after falling trees tore into his house.

 

"The dead center of the eye is south of Jamaica by a few miles. But the center is close enough to Jamaica that they are likely getting hurricane-force winds along the southern coast," said Richard Knabb, a storm expert at the hurricane center.

 

Mudslides were reported in several parts of the mountainous country of 3 million people.

 

Local media reported 17 fishermen and women had been stranded ahead of the storm on the Pedro Cays, a small island chain in the open sea about 50 miles (80 km) south of Kingston, directly in the path of the hurricane.

 

They were told to break into a coast guard building for shelter but officials did not know if they had done that.

 

The government had urged residents to go to shelters. But many people, including those in one low-lying seaport town close to Kingston, refused to flee.

 

"We are going nowhere," Byron Thompson said in the former buccaneer town of Port Royal, settled by pirate Henry Morgan in the 16th century. "In fact, if you come by here later today you will see me drinking rum over in that bar with some friends."

 

Earlier in the day, tempers flared in shops where Jamaicans scrambled to stock up on batteries, flashlights, canned tuna, rice and water. Campaigning for Aug. 27 elections was halted.

 

Dean packed sustained winds of 145 miles per hour (230 kph) and its eye was about 70 miles (115 km) west-southwest of Kingston at 8 p.m. EDT (midnight GMT).


STORM WARNINGS

 

Storm warnings were also in effect for the Cayman Islands and parts of Mexico, Cuba, Haiti and Belize. The latest computer tracking models forecast Dean would spare the U.S. Gulf Coast but slam into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, cross the Bay of Campeche and then hit central Mexico.

 

Thousands of frightened tourists on Mexico's Caribbean coast stood in line for hours at airports to flee before Dean's expected arrival on Monday.

 

One man was killed in Haiti when a tree fell on a house and a woman died in a mudslide in the impoverished country of 8 million, civil defense officials said.

 

That brought to at least six the number killed by Dean since it roared between the Lesser Antilles islands of Martinique and St. Lucia on Friday as the first hurricane of what is expected to be an active 2007 Atlantic storm season.

 

Landslides also destroyed several hundred houses in southern Haiti and dozens in the neighboring Dominican Republic, officials said.

 

Risk modeling company EQECAT Inc. estimated insured losses from Dean's rampage through the Caribbean islands at $1.5 billion to $3 billion, most of it in Jamaica.

Dean was moving west at 20 mph (32 kph) and was being watched closely by energy markets, which have been nervous since a series of storms in 2004 and 2005 toppled Gulf of Mexico oil rigs, flooded refineries and cut pipelines.

 

Mexico's Pemex oil company started to evacuate 13,360 workers from its Gulf rigs.

The U.S. space shuttle Endeavour hastily left the orbiting International Space Station in order to land a day early in case the storm forced NASA to evacuate its Houston center.

 

Airlines added flights to ferry tourists from the Caymans. Hoteliers on the famed Seven Mile Beach laid out sandbags, cut down coconuts to keep them from becoming windborne missiles and moved guests and furniture to safer midlevel floors.

 

Category 5 hurricanes are rare but in 2005 there were four, including Katrina, reinforcing research that suggests global warming may increase the strength of tropical cyclones.

 

 

Giant Hurricane Dean Swipes at Mexico, No Dead

 

Planetark.org, Aug. 22, 2007

 

CHETUMAL, Mexico - Hurricane Dean flooded streets and toppled trees across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday but it left famous Caribbean beach resorts mostly intact before taking aim at Gulf of Mexico oil platforms.

 

There were no early reports of deaths or serious damage in Mexico from the storm, a potentially disastrous Category 5 hurricane which lashed beach resorts on the "Mayan Riviera" where thousands of tourists had crammed into shelters.

"We escaped. It was very light," said Miguel Cruz, 29, a hotel receptionist in the resort of Playa del Carmen.

 

Water surged down a main street at thigh level in Chetumal, a city of about 150,000 people near where Dean made landfall. Broken trees and street lights lay strewn around.

 

Dean had killed 11 people elsewhere on its rampage through the Caribbean.

 

It passed quickly over the Yucatan and was downgraded to a Category 1 storm but forecasters warned that roaring winds and rains would likely pick up again as Dean headed toward Mexico's offshore oil platforms in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

State oil company Pemex has closed and evacuated more than 400 oil and gas wells, meaning lost production of 2.65 million barrels of crude per day.

 

President Felipe Calderon said no deaths were reported. Mexico's response to hurricanes has improved in recent years as emergency services regularly stage rehearsals and the population is well informed about disaster prevention.

 

Hotels and other buildings in resorts like Playa del Carmen and Cancun, devastated by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, escaped major damage this time.

 

Tens of thousands of tourists fled Cancun over the weekend before Dean crashed into the area, famous for its white beaches, crystal clear waters and Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza.

 

But storm surge and high waves may have swept away parts of Cancun's beach, residents and a local official said. The beach was rebuilt with new sand brought in from further out in the Caribbean after Wilma pummeled it.

 

POWER OUT

 

Chetumal was left without power when the hurricane's sustained winds of 165 miles per hour (265 kph) and gusts of up to 200 mph (320 kph) knocked over dozens of power poles and trees in the early hours of Tuesday. The aluminium roofs of some houses were blown off.

 

Dean swiped Jamaica at the weekend with fierce winds and pelting rain, killing two people and taking the storm death toll to eleven. Haiti was worst hit with four people dead.

 

Dean is likely to cost insurers up to $1.5 billion with the majority of claims coming from damage caused in Jamaica, disaster-modelling firm Risk Management Solution said.

 

Heavy rain drenched Belize, a former British colony that is home to some 250,000 people and a famous barrier reef. Sugar canes fields were flattened in the north of the country but there were no deaths reported.

 

"Frankly, it was less severe than we expected. We're very happy that the damage has been contained. We know how to organize for hurricanes and there are more houses now built to withstand these forceful winds," said Robert Leslie, the government's cabinet secretary.

 

Category 5 hurricanes are rare but there were four in 2005, including Katrina, which devastated New Orleans.

 

Hurricane Wilma two years ago washed away whole beaches in Mexico, killing seven people and causing $2.6 billion in damages.

 

Poor local residents with badly built homes are often the worst hit by hurricanes.

 

Calderon cut short a visit to Canada, where he met US President George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to oversee the emergency effort.