Why Didn’t Hurricane Irma Hit Cabarete?
How Nature Protects the Dominican Republic from Hurricanes
The Dominican Republic has been described as a Garden of Eden. Here, super foods grow wild from coast to coast, there are no predators to fear, and it looks like natural disasters are allergic to us. Ever wonder why the Dominican Republic seems to be right in a hurricane’s path when suddenly it moves out of our way? In the wake of Hurricane Irma, we thought it would be cool to explain how nature helps protect us from tropical storms.
How Hurricanes Work
The purpose of a hurricane is to bring warm water and air to the north. Trade winds that normally make for good kiting year round in Cabarete are the reason Hurricanes form. From the coast of Africa these trade winds create what is called tropical waves that slowly start to move west.
Warm water and wind is the life force of an Atlantic storm and causes these waves to grow into tropical disturbances, then tropical depressions, then tropical storms, and once the winds reach 74 mph they become hurricanes. The warmer the water these disturbances travel through, the more they intensify. All of the mentioned storm systems lose their strength once they travel over land or cold water.
The Mona Passage pushes Storms away from Dominican Republic
Our first line of defense against Atlantic storms is our positioning among our neighbor islands. We are almost perfectly centered between Cuba to our west and Puerto Rico to the east. The Mona Passage, a narrow body of water that connects the Atlantic ocean and Caribbean sea provides protection from storm systems since its strong currents and pressure system usually pushes storms away from us.
The Coastline in Dominican Republic helps minimize storm surges
In Cabarete and along the north coast we are fortunate to have reefs with an abrupt drop into deep ocean. Storm surges will do a lot more damage to a coast where the ocean floor slopes gradually. Just like when you stir your spoon in your cup and more water moves to center, in a hurricane the water piles up and needs somewhere to go.
At Natura Cabana, our reef protected us from the massive waves formed during Hurricane Irma so we were fortunate we had no damage and only debris from the trees and garden that surrounds our eco hotel.
Mountains in Dominican Republic Weaken Hurricanes
The DR is home to the largest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, as well as lots of other big mountains that help us during hurricane season. Our mountain ranges are cool and our coastline is warm creating varying temperatures and pressure systems that push storms away or decrease their intensity. As stated earlier, Atlantic storms need warmth and the cool air from our highest points are a deterrent to them.
It is important to note that despite our landscape, coastline, and placement between our neighboring islands all which help defend us, the Dominican Republic has definitely had it’s fare share of destruction and death from storms. Nagua, just 2 hours east of Cabarete has a completely different reef than we do and storm surges swept away homes and neighborhoods. To the west of us in Dajabon, a small pedestrian bridge was washed away.
Big Wave Surfing in Front of Natura Cabana
The effects of Irma were felt in Cabarete as early as Tuesday, and Wednesday waves were overhead to double-overhead right in front of Natura Cabana. We often have waves right in our backyard but big waves like the ones we saw the day before the hurricane were a sight to see. Some of the best surfers in Dominican Republic were surfing our peak “La Monga” and coming out of the water looking electrified.
The winds from Hurricane Irma passed over the Dominican Republic on Thursday September 7 and a lot of the North Coast is still dealing with power outages and mobile network issues as late as Sunday. Natura Cabana was open by Saturday and we are happy we took every precaution to protect our guests and staff from a potentially catastrophic storm even though nature is on our side.