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Puerto Rico’s Hurricane History

September 22, 2017

By Paul Homewood

cone graphic


As Hurricane Maria heads north as a Cat 3 storm, much is being made of the fact that it is the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since 1928. The implication is that Maria must have been exceptionally strong.

But the reality is that Puerto Rico is little more than a speck in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. The odds of the eye of a major hurricane, often just 10 or 20 miles wide, making a direct hit on Puerto Rico are probably hundreds to one, given that there are thousands of miles of ocean through which hurricanes can commonly travel.

[Tropical Cyclone History Map for Atlantic and Eastern Pacific]

Where a particular hurricane goes is a matter of luck. Puerto Rico has been lucky to have gone nearly 90 years without a hurricane as powerful as Maria. But they were not as lucky back then, as two Cat 4 and 1 Cat 5 hurricanes hit the island in the space of 33 years, as Weather Underground relate:

Maria was the second strongest hurricane ever recorded to hit Puerto Rico, behind only the 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane, which killed 328 people on the island and caused catastrophic damage. Puerto Rico’s main island has also been hit by two other Category 4 hurricanes, the 1932 San Ciprian Hurricane, and the 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane.


The San Felipe Segundo hurricane, also known as the Lake Okechobee hurricane, was one of the deadliest in  history. It hit Puerto Rico as a Cat 5, and left 500,000 homeless.

It then continued on to Florida, leaving thousands dead.

  1. September 22, 2017 3:13 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  2. September 22, 2017 4:18 pm

    People who live in such locations need to either build their homes like bunkers or expect to have their homes destroyed every so often. It is as simple as that.

    • Athelstan permalink
      September 22, 2017 7:27 pm

      It’s a thing that I’ve often pondered, if you live in wind tunnel so to speak,why then would you build abodes square, cuboid, rectangular?

      Long ago mankind discovered stuff about modelling motor cars styling thus to stream line and thus prevent drag, these same methods can be replicated in the pertinent design of housing which will face hurricane storm winds. Steel and concrete, reinforced better laminated glass and behind steel shutters works best.

      Furthermore and not least why attempt to build something ‘permanent’ down by the waterside? How stupid does it get? Or, people have no money [yeah true] and don’t care if their shacks are blown to matchwood – possibly?

      Surely though, you’d get a bit fed up with your house being constantly blown down……….or just a minute and contrary to what the beeb are telling us, it [Hurricanes] don’t happen on by, every ‘big wind’ seaso’. But still you’d want to invest in a sturdy house, well built and away from the sea front and shouldn’t the particular island authorities, will order you to or provide decent shelter and expect the disaster zone aftermath [don’ worry dem Brits will pay after all it’s they fault (mmcc) innit?]..

    • September 22, 2017 9:13 pm

      Irrespective of the rantings and hyperbole of the sensation seeking media, or the stupidity of the political classes and self seeking, self interested ways of the ‘climate change’ opportunists, the facts are that the Caribbean economies as they relate to normal people are virtually subsistence living, and these people will only make that worse, as Paul points out on many occasions.
      Their governments are hugely corrupt (allegedly! Although I have seen the huge Chinese vanity projects, and ‘poaching’ Chinese fishing vessels) and the last thing politicians there will be doing is dipping into their ‘alleged’ foreign bank accounts to fund such dwellings. So, the people make do with what they can, which is very little. Sympathy and money to ethical charities is something we can do to alleviate their situation. But it is little in the face of such systemic abuse.

  3. September 22, 2017 7:43 pm

    Puerto Rico took a direct eye hit across the entire island, with San Juan on the dirty side. The entire electrical (and telecomm) grid failed because the transmission lines went down, not just the distribution system. Best estimate for full power restoration is 4-6 months! Unlike the main parts of Fort Lauderdale where everything is underground in the sand running from the new CCGT at Port Everglades, you cannot bury grid infrastructure for 3.2 million people on a large mountainous island. Puerto Rico was already in receivership due to decades of overborrowing against a declining economy, unable to pay existing power grid debt. Now this.
    Will be interesting to see what if anything Congress does to help. They are American citizens but a territory, not a state, with separatist tendencies and Spanish as the first language. FEMA assistance covers Puerto Ricans but by law does not cover electrical and telecomm grids. Only covers only homes, personal effects, small businesses, and small farmers. Just verified this paragraph at the FEMA website.

    • dearieme permalink
      September 22, 2017 8:54 pm

      Nit pick: ‘odds against’ rather than ‘odds of’.

    • jim permalink
      September 22, 2017 8:56 pm

      ristvan, you are fortunate in Fort Lauderdale, many other parts of Florida have overhead distribution as well as transmission.
      However a question. In 2011 the central belt in Scotland was hit by a hurricane with recorded sustained windspeeds at ground level in excess of those on Puerto Rico with Maria. Its overhead transmission system was unaffected. 170k customers lost supply for 2 days only, its distribution system is mainly undergrounded. Of course it helps when you have spent money on good sea defences and build with stone and brick rather than wood and metal.
      I put it to you that countries in the ‘hurricane alley’ of the Caribbean , build knowing that every 10 years or so, they will need to replace, often with the begging bowl held out to the richer nations.
      You reap what you sow.

  4. Athelstan permalink
    September 23, 2017 9:30 am

    Not relevant and totally O/T but did you see this Paul, imho a fascinating glimpse under the feet of the Steel city now ,a href=”″>Marxist Republic of SYs.

  5. A C Osborn permalink
    September 23, 2017 11:33 am

    Like the previous 2 Hurricanes I am positive that Maria is no where near a Cat 3,4 or 5 at ground level during land fall.
    Those people who new where to look have analysed the ground & Bouy based data and Irma was barely a Cat 1 when it came ashore.
    for Neil’s analysis.
    I am not saying that they are not bad or dangerous, I am just saying that they bear no relationship with the Ground Based only measurements of the old Hurricanes.
    But as I said at WUWT the over hyped values are now in the records and the minds of the unknowing public.
    It is an absolute disgrace, just what we have come to expect from the Warmists and MSM

  6. Athelstan permalink
    September 23, 2017 12:52 pm

    Just supposing……………..

    Casuistry, dissembling, misdirection are the tools of the politicians and MSM alike. It is entirely possible, for casual viewers from 3000 miles away who knows if the pictures of “devastation” are actually taken in the regions/islands in the aftermath of Irma, Maria? Was it savage wind or seaborne swell and inundation? Why isn’t it investigated, or attempt at explanation. Maybe though, some al beeb shaitan, a jejune picture editor, student placement will not know his Dominica, from tsunami, his Windwards from his Leewards, innit?

  7. September 23, 2017 2:11 pm

    O/T Green is more about PR than truth
    We know this years Arctic ice is more than last years yet..
    That strange phrase “considerable melting” is used all over media headlines as if placed there

  8. dave permalink
    September 23, 2017 7:12 pm

    I wonder what proportion of the public even realize that the sea-ice in the North is not a constant quantity, and that, without fail, 4/5ths of it melts every summer?

    • September 23, 2017 10:59 pm

      6/5ths is what they think if they watch the BBC

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