Hurricanes In Dominican Republic
Quite frankly, most of us feel safer from hurricanes in the Dominican Republic then we do in southeastern portions of the United States. The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the large island named Hispaniola, and the western one-third of the island is occupied by Haiti. On average, the island of Hispaniola gets a direct hit by a serious hurricane once every 23 years. The north coast of the island, however, seems to experience serious hurricanes once every 100 years. The main reason the Dominican Republic gets fewer direct hits by hurricanes in the mountain range in the center of the country that rises over 10,000 feet above sea level (the island is aligned roughly east and west). The image below shows a typical storm to the north of the Dominican Republic which was diverted northwards by the mountain range. For those techies among us, the counter-clockwise, cyclonic wind pattern around the eye of a hurricane puts the north coast of the Dominican Republic on the weak side of the storm. And when this occurs, the south coast of the Dominican Republic is barely affected.
For reference, the Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 and extends to November 30. In the Dominican Republic, these are the summer and early fall seasons when the weather is sunny and humid, with some cloudiness and occasional rain showers in the late afternoon or at night. Historically, most hurricanes have occurred in the month of September. But chances of one hitting are slim, and if it does occur, resort staff is trained in handling these situations, and resort buildings today are equipped to withstand hurricane force. You should also take note that the Dominican Republic is a large country–this means that while one coast may be affected, another may be completely unscathed by a storm.
Hurricanes are so important to the history of the Dominican Republic, the word itself has its origins there. The native Taino people called the fierce tropical storms passing through the Caribbean, “hurakans” which is believed to have been derived from the Inca word for their God of Evil. When the Spaniards arrived in the late 15th century, they had never encountered such a fierce and mighty storm so they had no name for it in their own vocabulary. Thus, the native word hurakan, quickly became incorporated into the Spanish language. The Taino had no written language so the Spaniards just sounded it out phonetically. The word “hurricane” is the anglicized spelling of the Spanish version of the word.
The good news about hurricanes is that you get plenty of warning when they are coming, unlike other natural disasters like tornadoes that can hit with very little notice. The hotel operators on the North coast and South coast of the Dominican Republic are especially well prepared for big weather events. When they get word that a hurricane is coming, and this can happen sometimes days in advance, they will implement their hurricane plans immediately. In addition, the buildings in the Dominican Republic are the most modern and hurricane proof of any you’ll find anywhere in the entire Caribbean. They are built with concrete blocks and steel rods and designed to withstand high speed hurricane force winds.