The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, which
ended Nov. 30, turned out to be milder than originally
experts, who initially predicted at least 17 named storms, went
back to their storm charts and analyses in midseason and revised
their numbers downward.
season brought a total of 14 named storms to the Atlantic,
including six hurricanes, making it an average season. An
additional two hurricanes formed in the Pacific.
Gerry Bell, a
forecaster with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, said the number of named storms was normal, "but
where we have been a bit low is on the number of
hurricane seasons that were relatively tame, Florida officials fear
that they will be fighting public apathy when they issue warnings
for the 2008 hurricane season.
"The farther we get
away from these events, the more complacent people become, and
that's our continuing challenge," said Craig Fugate, the director
of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
things were a bit rougher, though impact on tourism was
This season's named
storms killed more than 200 people in Martinique, Jamaica, the
Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua and Mexico.
Two of the
hurricanes that formed in the Caribbean made Category 5 landfalls
with winds that topped 156 mph and rainfall amounts that spawned
storm surges, flooding, mudslides and drownings.
Hurricane Dean ravaged the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica's
south coast and Mexico's Gulf Coast, killing more than 30 people
and destroying a cruise ship pier in the Yucatan.
In Mexico, tourists
and residents were evacuated in a more timely and organized manner
than during Hurricane Wilma, which devastated Cancun in
"The lessons we
have learned since Hurricane Wilma were evident in our preparations
for Hurricane Dean," said Arturo Escaip, director general of the
Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau.
destination reacted with professionalism in a timely manner to make
Cancun a safe haven."
Although there was
damage to Costa Maya, the Mexican cruise port near the border of
Belize where Dean made landfall, repairs have been made, according
to Cesar Lizarrage, Costa Maya's director of sales and
Mexico had more
than $300 million in insured losses from the storm, according to
Risk Management Solutions, which calculates hurricane damage for
the insurance industry. By comparison, Hurricane Wilma in 2005
caused $1.8 billion in insured losses, the firm said.
Hurricane Felix pummeled Nicaragua's Caribbean coast as a Category
5 storm, killing 102 in its wake primarily along the Miskito coast,
home to thousands of indigenous Indians who lived in wooden
Honduras fared better as the storm's track and subsequent downgrade
to a tropical depression minimized damage as compared to what could
have been sustained by a direct impact, according to Ricardo
Martinez, the country's minister of tourism.
Jamaica was slammed
hard by Dean, prompting Prime Minister Bruce Golding to announce in
late November that the government would disperse millions of
dollars to repair rain-ravaged roads, replant damaged crops and
rebuild destroyed homes.
Then there was
Noel, the last storm of the season, which soaked parts of the
Caribbean for five days in early November before becoming a
Category 1 storm.
But even as a
tropical storm, Noel, rang up a death toll of more than 150, as
rivers broke their banks and surged through towns, according to
government officials in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and
Republic responded with more than $200 million in emergency aid,
although its ministry of tourism was quick to point out that no
major tourist hotels or centers had been damaged.
Preparedness draws praise
Vanderpool-Wallace and Alec Sanguinetti, the joint CEOs of the
Caribbean Tourism Development Corp., acknowledged the heightened
level of preparedness of the region and the response from island
nations during the season.
region is better prepared overall today than in years past,"
Vanderpool-Wallace said. "We appreciate the cooperation of our
guests and our industry partners in helping prepare."
The stronger of the
two Pacific hurricanes, Flossie, grew to a Category 4 but had been
downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it flirted with the Big
Island of Hawaii.
The threat led NCL
America to alter the itineraries of two of its ships, but the storm
never made landfall, passing 150 miles to the south of the Big
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].