In the summer months when temperatures are at their peak, the northern hemisphere of Mexico can be host to powerful storms like cyclones and hurricanes. These storms are born over the oceans where they gather strength and speed before heading inland. When they make landfall, usually along the Pacific Coast of Mexico or the Yucatan Peninsula and less often along the Gulf of Mexico, they can do incredible damage.
What are hurricanes and Typhoons?
Hurricane is the colloquial term for a large and powerful tropical cyclone that forms in the Atlantic or Northern Pacific region while typhoon is the name given to tropical cyclones that form in the Western North Pacific Ocean (Philippines, China and Japan). The difference between the two names is simply geography. In both instances, hurricanes and typhoons alike are unpredictable and often dangerous natural phenomena. As such, cyclones affecting Mexico are called hurricanes.
Characteristics of a hurricane
When a hurricane makes landfall the local climate conforms to very specific conditions; most notable are the sustained high winds which reach at least 74 miles per hour, but can go up to and over 160 miles per hour! Though the power a hurricane gains whilst at sea dissipates when it hits land these storms can do great damage before they become drenching rains further inland.
Mexico’s Hurricane Season
In Mexico, any time from late spring to late autumn can be classed as hurricane season, but they are most common in the summer and early autumn when temperatures reach their peak. Though it is impossible to predict just when hurricanes will strike, and how hard they will hit or where they will land, but July to October is considered the “danger zone” as this is when conditions are most likely to lend themselves to the creation of hurricane conditions.
Effects of Hurricanes on Mexico’s coastline
In recent years, sophisticated weather monitoring systems, communications equipment, and modern building techniques and regulations have made it possible to mitigate the human risk and superstructure based damage attached to hurricanes in Mexico. The strongest storms can still do great damage, however, and power, transport, and communication systems can be hugely disrupted when a big storm rolls in.
Buying property in Mexico
People who live and work in hurricane prone areas are well accustomed to the risk prevention and forewarning measures in place to protect them when a hurricane comes in, and they (like local businesses) will have insurance which covers their buildings and possessions. The real danger comes when a hurricane makes a beeline for an area unused to dealing with them! When buying property in Mexico’s hurricane prone areas, you are well advised to purchase insurance that cover you in the event of a hurricane and ensure that your property is suitably conditioned and protected when hurricane alerts are issued.
Mexico has experienced some of the most powerful hurricanes in recent history with relatively limited loss of life and severe damage. In 2002, Hurricane Kenna hit the San Blas area north of Puerto Vallarta and caused widespread flooding across Banderas Bay; yet the area recuperated quickly. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit the Yucatan Peninsula and caused widespread damage to Cancun and the surrounding areas. In 2015, however, Mexico faced what meteorologists called “the strongest storm on record”; Hurricane Patricia was expected to do huge damage and potentially take a lot of lives, but thankfully the huge mountain range that runs along the coastline helped to mitigate the damage by reducing wind speeds and the hurricane made landfall in a relatively unpopulated area.