The eyes of the World are all on the Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian lashes on the Island of Grand Bahama in the Bahamas. Having been through a couple of Category 5 hurricanes I have plenty of empathy for the poor fellows in the Bahamas. (I was in Cancun for Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and in Honduras for Hurricane Mitch in 1998). As I was reading a post about Hurricane Dorian this morning, I came across an interesting fact that I quote: “According to the NOAA historical hurricane database, the only comparable Category 5 beating is the one administered to Honduras by Hurricane Mitch of 1998, which spent 12 hours within 50 miles of the island of Guanaja as a Category 5 storm.”
Hurricane Mitch in Honduras
And this has made me reminisce about those days in late October, 1998 when Hurricane Mitch was lurking in the Southwest Caribbean. I was living in San Pedro Sula back in those days. I visited the Port of Omoa and saw the “Fantome” barefoot cruises luxury yacht in port. Little did I know my eyes would never see it again! But heck, it is hurricane season in this part of the World and all we can do is to prepare ourselves, just in case…
Back in those days, Internet was not widely accessible in Honduras. It was of course, before the days of the smart phones we can not live without today. But I did have dial up internet connection in my office. So I would run to the office to check on the National Hurricane Center to get the latest updates. The NHC report never mentioned the Island of Guanaja in their updates. The Island of Roatan was their point of reference. So I took note of the coordinates and brought out a map of Guanaja. Lo and behold, Mitch was just having a jolly time around the island.
Despite the merciless slashing by Mitch, their were few deaths in Guanaja. Many fishermen anchored their fishing vessels in the area between the island and the outlying cays. There they gunned their engines to prevent the anchors from dragging. They never expected that they would have them running for almost 72 hours! At one point, they were afraid they would run out of fuel and be at the mercy of storm! I was not in Guanaja but have many friends that were on the island for that horrible experience. So, I can only say that in Honduras, we have great empathy for all the people of Bahamas at this moment.
Our Empathy to the People of Bahamas Who are Under Siege by Hurricane Dorian
Without doubt, every storm is different, and the only thing I can say for sure if comparing Hurricane Dorian vs Hurricane Mitch is that it is one heck of terrifying experience that no one should have! In Guanaja, the pine forests were decimated after the 180 miles per hour winds literally sand blasted the bark off the trees. The island, once green was now completely brown. Everything was dry from hours of salty air blowing an all the vegetation. Perhaps the most iconic place in Guanaja, the Fifi Café was wiped out. A way of somehow erasing the memory of the previous hurricane that had ravaged the island.
Hurricanes are natures was of cooling the ocean surface. They bring up the cold water from deep in the ocean. This helps keep the temperatures in check to allow the coral reefs to be healthy. With the extremely hot sea surface temperatures, we can only expect stronger and more destructive hurricanes. My heart goes out to the people of the Bahamas. I am sure that they will get their country back on its feet. At this moment, all I can say is that I hope that this hurricane season is not more damaging that what it has already been.