Science, Tech & Environment

Tracking Hurricanes from the Caribbean

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Hurricane Sandy over the Caribbean, October 2012 (Photo: NOAA)

All eyes are on the Atlantic seaboard as Hurricane Sandy moved in Monday.

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The massive, late-season tropical hurricane has already impacted Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

While some Caribbean islands face the threat of Atlantic hurricanes every season, there are a handful of others that seem to get a pass.

So here's a question for you: which Caribbean islands are least likely to be directly hit by hurricanes?

These are some of the southern-most nations of the Caribbean, the ones closest to the equator.

Meteorologist Kathy Ann Caesar pondered the question. Caesar teaches at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology in Barbados. She says Hurricane Sandy is the current topic in class discussions.

"It's a remarkable event because we don't often get the chance to see nature in all its fury as we would say and glory for us meteorologists, because with all the technology that we have now, we have this unique opportunity to study the development of a tropical cyclone as it merges and becomes what we call an extra tropical or a mid-latitude system.

"What were paying attention to is the movement of the system as it moves almost directly north and as it comes across from east of the Great Lakes and merges with a system that is coming from the east coast of the US and they're going to be merging into one. I was just showing students, looking at the models, and you could see the two lows come together twisting and merging into one and developing into one large storm. You haven't seen this kind of development in a number of years," Caesar says.

Back to our question: which Caribbean island nations are LEAST likely to be caught in the direct path of hurricanes?

Caesar says the islands along the southern rim of the Caribbean, namely Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, and Bonaire rarely experience direct hits by hurricanes, due their proximity to the equator, and to the way tropical storms form.

But she adds, all Caribbean islands need to be vigilant.

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