Dealing with Tropical Storms
Playa Del Carmen and the Riviera Maya do not have to deal with many natural disasters. The main threat are hurricanes and tropical storms. We fortunately have not had to deal often with either of these, but it is good to be prepared before one arrives. Here are some tips on how to be prepared for tropical stores. We also have this article on hurricane preparation and what to do.
Hurricane season runs from around June 1 to November 30th. It peaks in September. Two good websites for watching the weather and getting predictions about tropical storms are these:
Reminders to prepare for tropical storms
Since tropical storms do not pass by us often and many people are new to the area, it is a good reminder to prepare for these events. Tropical storms can bring damaging winds and flooding that can disrupt daily life for a few days. The Yucatan Peninsula is fairly flat and has poor drainage due to the limestone base. Even large rainstorms can bring flooding to the area, so it is good to be prepared. Here are some good tips and reminders to be ready for tropical storms.
- One of the most important things to do is prepare the outside of your condo or house. Winds will snap off limbs and blow around anything loose. Trim trees or brace them. Palm trees, especially will topple in heavy winds because of shallow roots. Trash cans and lighter items should be brought inside.
- Check your hurricane shutters if you have them. Make sure they are functional.
- Move the setting of your refrigerator to the coldest setting. If the power does out your items will stay cooler longer. Also a fuller fridge will stay cooler longer. It does not have to be food, just items that can absorb the coolness and maintain the temperature longer than empty air.
- Check your water tank if you have one. Make sure it is full and the lid is on tight. Make sure it is full and perhaps have extra buckets of water to flush toilets. Most tanks will last a family a couple of days with moderate usage. If the power goes out, pumps cannot work to get water to your roof.
- If you live in a low lying area, think about water flooding in your home. Refrigerators are often the first things to get wet because they are on the floor. Think about putting it on blocks if water could enter your home.
- Park your car in a safe area. If flooding is a problem, park in a higher area or even look for a parking garage that can protect your car more.
- Watch the weather online to see if the storm is staying on track or intensifying. A battery powered radio is good to have if the power goes out.
- Charge your cell phones and computers. Sometimes the power goes out but not the cell signal. Also, having a computer charged can provide some entertainment if you have no power.
- Check your supplies at home. Plan on having some food on hand. Fill your vehicle up with gas. Have extra bottles of water and buckets for catching extra water for flushing toilets. Have bleach on hand for sanitizing and cleaning up afterward. Recharge flashlights or have fresh batteries ready.
- Have some cash on hand. If there is no power for a day or two, ATMs will not be working.
What normally happens in Playa Del Carmen during a tropical storm?
Fortunately, we don’t get too many tropical storms or hurricanes. When we do get them, you can expect some power outages, downed limbs and a rain event for a day or two. Sometimes the internet, cell signals and power all manage to stay on and it is more of a noisy storm that passes over. The beaches can take a beating and often get eroded. The effects of this are temporary and often after a storm we have amazingly beautiful weather. With everyone preparing and staying safe inside, these storms can pass over with not too much damage.
Levels of storms
Tropical depression is a storm with a circular motion that is somewhat organized and has maximum sustained winds under 63 km/h.
A tropical storm is when the system gets wind from 63 km/h and 118 km/h. It also gets a name at this stage in the alphabetical order of yearly storm names.
A hurricane is when the maximum sustained winds are 119 km/h or more and the storm has a defined storm center and low pressure.