Cancun has Natural Advantages during HurricanesAugust 28, 2008 9:42 pm Hurricane Gustav
Over the summer I attended a talk about hurricanes and hurricane preparedness. It was given by Dr. Mario Stoute of Dirección de Protección Civil (Cancun’s office of Civilian Protection).
Dr. Stoute brought up many, many interesting points. But I was especially impressed by a list he gave of the natural and man-made advantages that Cancun and the Riviera Maya have in case of a hurricane:
- Limestone – The Yucatan peninsula is primarily limestone and limestone is a natural sponge. There is always some crevice or hole in the rock for rainwater to seep into. So flooding from rainfall in this area is usually short-lived and not widespread.
- Flat Land – With no mountains and very thin topsoil we have no potential for landslides. Landslides are often killers in mountainous regions that face hurricanes.
- Deep Water Just Offshore – Because we have deep ocean water just to offshore of us here there is little potential for storm surge to travel very far inland. We still get battering waves but ocean water doesn’t come inland.
- Mangrove – In places where we humans have been smart enough to leave mangrove intact it acts as a natural hurricane punching bag. Mangrove can absorb a huge amount of the energy of a hurricane. Dr. Stoute stressed that it is unwise to ever build higher than the level of the mangrove here.
- Flat Land Again – The lack of mountains here means that we don’t suffer from the rise in water levels that can come about during a hurricane due to the “funnel effect.”
- Concrete Buildings – Concrete homes and buildings are the norm here. We don’t have stick homes that can blow apart in hurricanes and we don’t have roofs that can blow off.
These are some of the reasons why this area suffers very few casualties because of hurricanes. I never thought I would be thankful for a lack of mountains and a lack of topsoil, but I am now.
Posted by RiverGirl in Cancun