Felix and Joan – a tale of two hurricanes


“Despite a growing consensus that global warming may spawn stronger tropical cyclones, weather experts believe it is too soon to blame climate change for the back-to-back hurricanes.” So said a Reuters report this morning on Hurricane Felix, which has left at least 38 dead, over 200 still missing, and the city of Bilwi and surrounding villages devastated.

How much evidence is needed to make the link with global warming? 2005 was a record year for hurricanes in the Caribbean. This year is the first time ever that two Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall (with another couple of months of the season to go).

Meanwhile the inhabitants of Bilwi are counting the cost, and the bodies, of these is it/isn’t hurricanes. Estimates of up to 80 per cent of houses in the city have lost their roofs, with 5,000 totally demolished. The Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign has visited Bilwi on six occasions, and knows the city well. Flat, with open roads (mostly dirt tracks), with low, wooden buildings, it would offer little defence against the monstrous winds of Hurricane Felix. Bilwi has also lost its hospital, almost unique in that it was based on a locally developed health model which tries to blend the best of conventional and indigenous medicine.

Though many are comparing Felix to Hurricane Mitch (which killed up to 4,000 in Nicaragua), the real comparison is Hurricane Joan, which hit Bluefields in 1988. Thankfully the loss of life was much lower, but Bluefields was left in ruins, with 90 per cent of houses damaged. It has taken Bluefields almost twenty years to recover from its visit by Joan.


No Responses Yet to “Felix and Joan – a tale of two hurricanes”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: