Hurricane Jova smashes into Barra de Navidad and Melaque on Mexico’s Pacific Coast

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Hurricane Jova smashes into Barra de Navidad and Melaque on Mexico’s Pacific Coast
Oct 142011
 

The twin coastal towns of Melaque and Barra de Navidad in the state of Jalisco felt the full force of Hurricane Jova earlier this week. Barra de Navidad has great historical importance as one of the shipbuilding ports where the Spanish built the ships which traversed the Pacific Ocean to the islands of the Philippines.

Full details are only beginning to emerge of the damage done, but the following links show the storm’s path, and some of its immediate impacts:

Fortunately, Hurricane Jova had lost some of its strength by the time it slammed into the coast as a Category 2 hurricane on 12 October. It had previously packed winds of up to 160 km/hr. Even so, it brought torrential rain to coastal areas between the major resorts of Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, and heavy rain inland as far as Guadalajara (about 400 km from the coast). In Guadalajara, the flag-raising ceremony to mark the start of the 2011 Pan-American Games was postponed by a day because of continuous rainfall.

In Puerto Vallarta, where several Pan-American Games events are scheduled to be held, including sailing, triathlon, beach volleyball, and open water swimming, authorities secured boats and reinforced the beach volleyball courts with sandbags.

The catastrophe-modelling firm AIR Worldwide says Hurricane Jova will have caused less than $52m of damage as it hit a sparsely populated stretch of Mexico’s Pacific coast downgraded as a Category 2 hurricane.

Many smaller settlements, including Cihuatlán, La Huerta, Villa Purificacion, and Cuautitlán de García Barragán were temporarily cut off as floodwaters made the main coastal highway impassible. Streets in many towns were inundated.

Details of the storm’s track and intensity will (in due course) be available at the National Hurricane Center’s archive for 2011 Eastern Pacific Hurricanes.

Previous hurricane-related posts include:

Hurricanes and other climatological phenomena are analyzed in chapters 4 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy reference guide available whenever you need it.

Atlantic and eastern Pacific hurricane names for 2011

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Apr 132011
 

Hurricanes are also known as typhoons or tropical cyclones. The table shows the World Meteorological Organization’s official list of 2011 hurricane names. Note that male and female names alternate. Names are often reused in future years, with the exception of the names of any particularly violent storms, which are officially “retired” from the list for a long time.

Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and CaribbeanEastern Pacific
ArleneAdrian
BretBeatrix
CindyCalvin
DonDora
EmilyEugene
FranklinFernanda
GertGreg
HarveyHilary
IreneIrwin
JoseJova
KatiaKenneth
LeeLidia
MariaMax
NateNorma
OpheliaOtis
PhilippePilar
RinaRamon
SeanSelma
TammyTodd
VanceVeronica
WhitneyWiley
Xina
York
Zelda

In Mexico, the “official” hurricane season is from May 15 to November 30 each year for Pacific coast storms, and from June 1 to Novemebr 30 for Atlantic storms, though most hurricane activity is concentrated in the months from July to September.

This year, Philip Klotzbach and William Gray, researchers at Colorado State University, predict that 16 named storms will form in the Atlantic: 7 tropical storms,4 moderate hurricanes (1 or 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale), and 5 severe hurricanes (3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale).

For the Pacific coast, Mexico’s National Meteorological Service (Servicio Metrológico Nacional, SMN) is expecting 17 storms: 7  tropical storms, 6 moderate hurricanes (1 or 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale), and 4 severe hurricanes (3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale). The SNM publishes regular updates on hurricane activity (in Spanish) on its webpage and via its Twitter account: @huracanconagua.

Previous posts related to hurricane prediction:

Hurricanes and other climatic hazards are analyzed in detail in chapter 4 of  Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico.

Mexican geophysicists develop new model for hurricane forecasting

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Mexican geophysicists develop new model for hurricane forecasting
Jan 112011
 

The new methods, using physics rather than mathematics as the basis, can be used to forecast the timing of Category 5 hurricanes, the most severe level on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Category 5 hurricanes have sustained wind speeds of up to 250 km/hr, with catastrophic impacts on homes, lives and infrastructure. The most recent Category 5 hurricanes to strike Mexico are Dean (2007), Wilma (2005), Mitch (1998), Gilbert (1988) and Beulah (1967).

Scientists at the Geophysics Institute of the National University (UNAM) in Mexico City have developed a physics-based model, relying on three-dimensional imaging, which can be used to predict severe (Category 5) hurricanes. They have also pin-pointed precisely where in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean severe hurricanes are most likely to originate. The scientists conclude that severe hurricanes do not occur randomly in time, but tend to occur at roughly cyclical intervals, about every ten years.

Diagram showing features of the existing GFDL Hurricane Prediction System

Diagram showing features of the existing GFDL Hurricane Prediction System

They hope that the new techniques will improve the forecasting associated with these severe weather hazards, and offer more lead-in time for the updating and implementation of evacuation plans and other mitigation measures.

Lead investigator Víctor Manuel Velasco Herrera says that, according to the model, the next period when Category 5 hurricanes will occur will begin in 2013 and end in 2017, “with a margin of error of one year.”

Watch this space for updates in due course!

Previous posts related to hurricane prediction:

Hurricanes and other climatological phenomena are analyzed in chapters 4 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy reference guide available whenever you need it.

How good were the 2010 hurricane predictions?

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Dec 042010
 

In an earlier post – How many hurricanes are likely in the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season? – we reported on the predictions for this year’s Atlantic/Caribbean hurricane season

How close to reality did those predictions turn out to be?

The predictions were for 8 tropical storms, 5 moderate hurricanes (1 or 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale), and 5 severe hurricanes (3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale). At the end of the season (30 November 2010), there had been 7 tropical storms, 7 moderate hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes. In total, these storms caused 259 deaths directly, and a further 23 indirectly, with total property damage estimated at US$11.4 billion. (Note that not all of these hurricanes affected Mexico).

Atlantic Hurricane tracks, 2010

Atlantic hurricane tracks, 2010. Created by Cyclonebiskit using Wikipedia: WikiProject Tropical cyclones/Tracks. Author: Cyclonebiskit and Syntheticalconnections

So, all in all, the predictions made before the hurricane season started were pretty close to the mark, and this hurricane season was indeed one of the most active on record.

Previous hurricane-related posts include:

Hurricanes and other climatological phenomena are analyzed in chapters 4 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy reference guide available whenever you need it.

Hurricane Richard approaches the Yucatán Peninsula

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Oct 242010
 

As the hurricane season draws to a close, Hurricane Richard is approaching the coasts of Belize and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. For its latest position and predicted path, see Mexico’s National Meteorological Service website. [After the event, hurricane information is stored in the same site’s Historical Hurricane Archive.]

hurricane-richard-2010

Hurricane Richard is predicted to lose strength (and be downgraded to a Tropical Storm) as it crosses the Yucatán Peninsula. Even so, it will bring more heavy rains to eastern Mexico, an area still struggling to cope with the aftermath of torrential downpours earlier in the summer.

Previous hurricane-related posts:

Hurricanes and other climatological phenomena are analyzed in chapters 4 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy reference guide available whenever you need it.

Update on highway conditions in north-eastern Mexico following Hurricane Alex

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Update on highway conditions in north-eastern Mexico following Hurricane Alex
Jul 142010
 

Source: SCT press release (14 July 2010) with additional details based on press reports

Tamaulipas

Most highways (including Ciudad Victoria-Matamoros, Tampico-Ciudad Victoria, Ciudad Victoria-Monterrey and Ciudad Victoria-Soto la Marina) have been cleared and reopened.

Exceptions:
1. Reynosa-Matamoros: the free road is open, but the toll highway is still closed. This highway will be inspected and repaired once flood water recedes, but repair work is estimated to require 5 or 6 days.

2. Further west, the Ciudad Mier-Nuevo Laredo road (Hwy 2) is still closed.

Nuevo León

The Saltillo-Monterrey toll road has been reopened.

The Monterrey-Nuevo Laredo toll road has now opened, but only for commercial truck traffic and passenger buses; the free road will remain closed for several days more.

Bridge repairs close to Ciudad Anahuac, one of the worst affected areas, have been completed, restoring road communication from Ciudad Anahuac to Nuevo Laredo.

Monterrey–Reynosa toll road (Hwy 40D)- open.

Linares-San Roberto (Hwy 31) road – closed (Alternative route is via Monterrey)

Ciudad Victoria-Monterrey highway (Hwy 85). Repairs continuing on the by-pass to Montemorelos (traffic being redirected through the town); expected to remain closed for several more days.

Coahuila

Puerto-México-Carbonera Highway – open, but limited to one-lane in places; expected to be fully operational by 26 July.

Morelos-Ciudad Acuña (Hwy 29): still closed pending bridge repairs.

Frausto-Paredón-Monterrey (this road links Hwy 57 to the western outskirts of Monterrey)- to be partially opened shortly, with a dirt road detour to avoid a damaged bridge.

Drivers are urged to use extreme caution on highways in all these areas and to drive within the posted speed limits.

It is clear that highway crews have done an amazing job of re-establishing most of the area’s critical highway links even though the flood waters have not yet receded. It will still take many many days before the backlog of 20,000 large trucks currently stranded in Nuevo Laredo can all reach their destinations further south.

150 inter-city buses are also stranded in Nuevo Laredo.

It will also take several days before the normal supply routes to stock Nuevo Laredo’s stores, supermarkets and markets with fresh produce will be back to normal.

Previous hurricane-related posts:

Hurricane Alex, 30 June – 1 July 2010

Hurricanes and other climatological phenomena are analyzed in chapters 4 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy reference guide available whenever you need it.

In which months are hurricanes most likely to strike Mexico?

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Jul 142010
 

The following verse provides a way to remember how likely hurricanes are in different months of the year. It applies specifically to Atlantic (Gulf of Mexico) and Caribbean hurricanes.

June, too soon
July, stand by
August, come it must
September, remember
October, all over.

This verse matches the historical records of Atlantic and Caribbean hurricanes fairly closely. Even so, to keep everyone on their toes, hurricanes sometimes, very occasionally, develop in other months of the year.

Previous hurricane-related posts:

Hurricane Alex, 30 June – 1 July 2010

Hurricanes and other climatological phenomena are analyzed in chapters 4 and 7 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy reference guide available whenever you need it.

Jul 102010
 

NEW (Sunday 11 July): At present the discharge of the Río Bravo/Grande is decreasing, but a secondary peak discharge is expected to sweep downstream from late Monday through Tuesday, depending on the precise location.

The following summary of recent developments related to Hurricane Alex has been compiled from a variety of news reports.

Loss of life
In Coahuila, memorial services have been held for Horacio del Bosque Dávila, the state’s Director of Public Works, who died alongside seven colleagues while assessing the flood damage from the air, when their light plane crashed.

Four more deaths from drowning have been reported, with the discovery of four bodies on the bank of the Río Bravo near Ciudad Acuña.

State of emergency
A state of emergency has been declared in many more municipalities, bringing the total number of affected municipalities to 43 in the state of Nuevo León and 25 in Coahuila.

The municipalities recently added to the list are:

  • Nuevo León: Agualeguas, Galeana, Doctor González, García, Marín, General Zuazua, Mina, Hidalgo, Iturbide, Los Herreras, Parás and Pesquería.
  • Coahuila: Los Acuña, Allende, Cuatrociénegas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jiménez, Juárez, Morelos, Múzquiz, Nava, Piedras Negras, Progreso, Sabinas, San Juan de Sabinas, Villa Unión and Zaragoza.

Highways and transport
Both main highways between Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo are currently closed, and expected to remain so for another 3-4 days.

  • Federal highway 85D is flooded between km 143 and 146, near Sabinas Hidalgo, due to the Río Salado overflowing its banks.
  • Highway 85 (the non-toll highway) is closed at km 155, near Ciénega de Flores, because of a badly damaged bridge.

Cross border rail services were also suspended for a time.

International Bridge #1 was closed for more than 24 hours as the Río Bravo peaked, but has now reopened. Not surprisingly, truck traffic across the international bridges into Nuevo Laredo has been severely affected, especially since they currently have no way to proceed further south.

The vehicle inspection offices on the Mexican side of the bridge were flooded.

Several roads in and around the city of Monterrey have been closed due to flooding and resulting landslides.

In Tamaulipas, 41,700 people have been forced out of their homes, in 19 municipalities. In Hidalgo municipality, work has begun on erecting an emergency bridge to reconnect 14 small settlements to the rest of the state following the destruction of the old bridge. The settlements include El Chorito, one of the most revered pilgrimage centers in north-eastern Mexico.

Flow levels on the Río Bravo/Grande
The flow levels on the Río Bravo/Grande are unprecedented in recent times. All floodgates at the Venustiano Carranza dam have had to be opened, and are expected to remain so for 4 or 5 more days.

The Río Bravo has not experienced flows like this since the construction in 1968 of Presa La Amistad. The river peaked at a height of 13 meters, more than 12 meters above its normal level for this time of year. Its peak discharge was 7,500 cubic meters per second, also a post-dam record.

Agriculture
A total of up to 300,000 hectares of agricultural land have been affected by flooding. Tamaulipas has applied for emergency farming aid for an area of 153,500 hectares in 32 municipalities.

The most valuable crops to be affected are sorghum, corn, cotton, chile, tomato, alfalfa and canteloupe. Sorghum production alone is likely to fall by one million tons.

Property damages
The cost of the repairs needed for the badly damaged potable water network in the city of Monterrey (Nuevo León) is estimated at 260 million dollars.

The hurricane has damaged more than 1,000 schools in Nuevo León, out of a total of 3,535. At least 60 schools suffered severe structural damage. The estimated repair costs are about 30 million dollars.

This YouTube video is a collection of photos showing the extraordinary amount of damage done in the city of Monterrey.

Aid
The loss of life and property damages might have been much greater had it not been for efficient emergency services and disaster response. Aid is reaching almost all the victims of the floods, either via the Red Cross or via Mexico’s Armed Services (Army and Navy).

Hundreds of additional firemen, rescue crews and police have been drafted in to help.

A shelter for more than 800 people is operational in the city of Matamoros.

A vaccination campaign is already underway, with measures being taken to prevent an outbreak of dengue fever.

Telmex (Teléfonos de México) and other phone companies are giving residents in areas affected by flooding up to a week of free local and national long distance calls.

Miscellaneous
Two undocumented Central American migrants were rescued from the river after having been swept more than 5 kilometers downstream. They had tried to cross the river using an inner tube. It had taken one of them two months to reach this border crossing from his home in Honduras.

A rescue helicopter plucked 8 people to safety from the steel tower supporting the community water tank in El Camarón, located between Nuevo Laredo and Cd. Anahuac. They had been marooned when the River Salado overflowed. Local officials believe another five people may also have been trapped, but have so far failed to locate them.

Previous posts related to Hurricane Alex:

Mexico’s climatic hazards, including hurricanes, are analyzed in chapter 4 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy guide to the “back story” behind Mexico’s current affairs.

More reports of damage from Hurricane Alex, and another storm on the way

 Mexico's geography in the Press, Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on More reports of damage from Hurricane Alex, and another storm on the way
Jul 082010
 

Update on the aftermath of Hurricane Alex, Thursday 8 July, 2010

The Mexico-USA border area may be in for a very wet week, since Tropical Depression 2 (which would become Hurricane Bonnie if its wind speeds increase) is now approaching the area from the Gulf of Mexico. Weather Underground has more details and maps showing the possible storm paths.

The Río Bravo (Grande) is expected to peak in Laredo at 13 meters (42 feet) at Bridge 1, and possibly even higher at the Columbia bridge. Cross-border travelers in that area are best advised to delay their travel until the river level is well on its way down. Otherwise, anticipate long delays and time-consuming diversions.

State officials in Coahuila now say that at least 80,000  people in that state are homeless, 20,000 homes are uninhabitable, and 40,000 homes are still without drinking water.

The Nuevo León state chapter of the National Chamber of Housing Developers claims that at least 7,000 homes in Nuevo León need major repairs or rebuilding as a result of Hurricane Alex.

This YouTube video of the flood gives a good idea of the power of the water flow in the city of Monterrey (Nuevo León).

Previous posts related to Hurricane Alex:

Mexico’s climatic hazards, including hurricanes, are analyzed in chapter 4 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy guide to the “back story” behind Mexico’s current affairs.

Mass evacuations and flood alerts follow Hurricane Alex

 Mexico's geography in the Press, Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Mass evacuations and flood alerts follow Hurricane Alex
Jul 072010
 

The final death toll from Hurricane Alex last week stands at 12. It is a tribute to the effective preparations made by residents and authorities in advance of the storm, and to relief efforts, that more people did not lose their lives.

The center of Monterrey, an industrial center which is Mexico’s third largest city, was briefly turned into a raging torrent, with widespread damage to roads and infrastructure. Click here for a photo gallery showing some of the extensive damage caused by Huricane Alex.

Hurricane Alex

Hurricane Alex. Photo: NOAA. Click to enlarge.

In addition to those made homeless as a direct result of the storm, a further 18,000 people have been evacuated from their homes because they are downstream of the Venustiano Carranza dam, located about 70 km (43 miles) away, which is now at bursting point.

The authorities in Ciudad Anahuac (a short distance south-west of Nuevo Laredo) have opened some of the dam’s floodgates to ease the water pressure but the situation is still reported to be critical. The opening of the floodgates released 600 cubic meters of water a second into the Río Salado, a tributary of the Río Bravo/Grande. Meanwhile, residents have been moved to shelters in nearby towns.

Santos Garza Garcia, the town’s mayor, told reporters that “It was preferable to have controlled flooding than having the whole town disappear.”

In a related development, the bi-national International Boundary and Water Commission, which adjudicates Mexico-USA border issues, ordered the release of 1,000 cubic meters a second (35,000 cubic feet per second) of floodwater from the Amistad reservoir into the Río Grande. The Amistad reservoir straddles the border upstream of the cities of Del Río (Texas) and Ciudad Acuña (Coahuila).

The heavy rains had already swollen the Río Bravo/Río Grande (which forms along the Mexico-USA border) to dangerous levels. The level of the river is being continuously monitored. Its level has risen by as much as 6 meters (20 feet) above normal. As a precaution, several border crossings, including the international bridge between Laredo (Texas) and Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas) have been closed.

It is the first time since 1995, that an Atlantic hurricane has struck Mexico’s Gulf coast as early as June. Everyone hopes that the main hurricane season, in July-August-September, does not bring further loss of life and property damage.

Additional note added Thursday July 8: The Mexico-USA border area may be in for a very wet week, since Tropical Storm 2 (which would become Hurricane Betty if wind speeds increase) is now approaching. Weather Underground has more details and maps showing the possible storm paths.

Earlier posts:

Mexico’s climatic hazards, including hurricanes, are analyzed in chapter 4 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Buy your copy today, so you have a handy guide to the “back story” behind Mexico’s current affairs.