Neely: Dorian will help Bahamians better prepare for hurricanes

The Bahamas is tied for the greatest number of Category 5 hurricane direct hits in recorded history in the Atlantic region, Bahamian Meteorologist Wayne Neely said yesterday.

“Dorian became the fourth tropical cyclone of Category 5 intensity in The Bahamas,” he said.

“What that did, that made The Bahamas the number one, tied with the state of Florida, for the most Category 5 hurricanes in the region. So, The Bahamas is officially number one in terms of Category 5 hurricanes impacting individual countries. So we’ve had our share of Category 5s.”

The impacts from such strong storms in the country have been spread out over nearly a century.

“The first one was called the Great Abaco Hurricane of 1932,” said Neely.

“Back in the 1930s, they never named storms. They named them after the cities or island they devastated.

“Then in 1933, we had the Cuba-Brownsville storm of 1933. That storm devastated Eleuthera. The Great Abaco Hurricane killed 19 persons on record. Then, Hurricane Andrew of 1992, which killed four persons, three directly storm-related, and Dorian is the fourth, which occurred this year.”

Dorian, however, was the strongest of them all, with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour (mph), gusts over 220 mph and a 20-foot storm surge. The storm, which swept over Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, was the deadliest on record for the country. So far, 65 have been confirmed dead, and thousands displaced.

According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), 282 people are still unaccounted for weeks later.

Four Category 5 storms have made landfall in the United States. The most common state to be hit is Florida, which was hit by Michael in 2018, Andrew in 1992 and the Labour Day Hurricane of 1935. Louisiana and Mississippi were both hit by Camille in 1969.

Dorian became the fifth Category 5 hurricane since 2016, but Neely said storms like Dorian are still rare. Its winds far exceeded the 157 mph threshold for the label of Category 5.

He said he believes the experience will help The Bahamas be better prepared for future hurricanes.

“I can guarantee that in future storms, Bahamians are going to be more prepared now because they’ve had the experience, not just Bahamians on Grand Bahama and Abaco, but throughout The Bahamas,” he said.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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