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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Forecasters predict another horrifying hurricane season on the Atlantic

As many as 8 full-fledged hurricanes could head to Yucatán this summer

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
A satellite image shows Hurricane Delta raging through Yucatán in 2020. Photo: Courtesy

Meteorologists are predicting another hyperactive hurricane season, which would affect Yucatán.

According to computer models, the greater Atlantic region may see as many as 17 tropical cyclones.

“It is likely that as many as 8 of the 17 tropical cyclones we are expecting will turn into full-fledged hurricanes,” says Dr. Philip Klotzbach of Colorado University. 

Hurricanes are tropical storms with sustained wind speeds of at least 74 mph. The intensity of hurricanes is measured on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. This scale ranks storms into categories ranging from one to five, based on a hurricane’s maximum sustained winds.

Category 5 hurricanes are fairly uncommon, but when they do form they are extremely dangerous. Even tropical storms that do not reach hurricane status can cause great devastation through intense gusts of wind and flooding.

Powerful winds lift the sand to form a haze as a tropical storm approaches the Yucatán Peninsula from the Gulf Coast in 2019. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The worst hurricanes in Yucatán’s recent memory include Gilbert, which devastated Mérida in 1988, and Wilma, which wreaked havoc in Cancún and the Riviera Maya in 2005. 

In 2020, the Yucatán Peninsula was hit hard by hurricanes Delta and Zeta, as well as the tropical storms Amanda, Cristobal and Gamma. The Atlantic hurricane season finished with 30 named storms, the most in any year on record.

Earlier: Delta lashes Tizimín as some coastal areas evacuate

Most of the damage done by hurricanes and tropical storms comes as a result of flooding or wind gusts capable of downing power lines, trees and even homes.

Flooding in Mérida caused by tropical storm Cristobal last year. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Hurricane prediction models take into account several factors such as the temperature of the world’s oceans and the presence of weather phenomena such as “El Niño,” which is not expected this year.

The names for the storms which achieve the status of tropical storm for the 2021 season are: Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, and Wanda.

The official forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be issued in late May.

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