Home Living in Mexico The Natural Processes of Hurricanes and the Oaxaca Coast

The Natural Processes of Hurricanes and the Oaxaca Coast

by Brent May

While living in Mexico, we learn to adapt to a new set of living conditions. We love Mexico for so many reasons from its stunning scenery to its food and especially the warmth and strength of its people.

Here, we are in touch with nature. We are surrounded by the beauty of the horizon of the ocean, the backdrop of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains and our precious tropical forest. We love the spring and summer in Mexico. With the first rainfalls, trees explode in colorful arrays of flowers, the forest breathes and comes alive, purple land crabs come out of the ground and tree frogs begin singing. Part of this cycle is the chance for a tropical storm or even a rare hurricane.

Huatulco and the Oaxaca Coast are considered low risk hurricane zones. One of the reasons many of us decided to move here. We understand that two things help this be true. Hurricanes rotate in a counterclockwise motion so they usually start below us and just head out to sea in the West because we are tucked into the East side of Mexico. The other helper is the Sierra Madre Del Sur mountains. The high mountains help take the strength from the storm.

Hurricane Agatha landed on May 30th, 2022. You can see in the image where the storm was a CAT 2 (and forecasted to become a CAT 3) but within hours it changed to a tropical storm. In another location, things would have been much different.

We appreciate here that storms and hurricanes have a function in nature.  Although storms and hurricanes can wreak havoc for humans especially in poorly built areas or when they cause major flooding, they also play an essential role in the safety and protection of tropical areas and have benefits.

We are grateful for hurricanes because they:

  • Provide life-giving rains
    Drenching downpours balance out life-giving rains. A significant amount of average annual precipitation in many areas comes from tropical storms. Hurricanes distribute the rains to areas that don’t get so much otherwise and renew surface and underground water, sometimes bringing an end to a drought.The coastal wetlands and mangroves receive and manage much of the runoff in our Oaxaca coast area. Huatulco was designed according to a master plan that takes into account management of these waters.
  • Balance the Earth’s heat
    The Earth is always trying to balance temperature evenly and spreads warmth globally. Hurricanes are one mechanism that help with this process. Especially here in Mexico, hurricanes help to move equatorial heat because the storm interacts with the upper levels of the atmosphere on a large scale. Hurricanes stir up cool water from the ocean sending warm water from the equator toward the poles. This process can weaken new hurricanes that develop and pass over the same area.
  • Replenish sediment and nutrients
    Hurricanes can also replenish barrier islands and sand bars. They bring sand from the ocean floor and revitalize shelves and coastal protections.
  • Spread plant seeds and renew inland plant life
    The winds help spread seeds and spores further inland for a greater mixing of the gene pool resulting in a stronger, healthier population.
  • Thin out the canopy
    The wind thins out vegetation in areas where fire risk is high. The thinned canopy also allows for renewal of ecosystems on the forest floor by giving them more sunlight.
  • Refresh ocean water
    The winds can oxygenate ocean surface water and restore life where there was an overabundance of bacteria. The stirring up of the ocean water can break up bacteria from algae blooms or red tides.
  • Recharge the soil
    Hurricanes bring in new sediment and nutrients nourishing plant life which later leads to a boost in animal life.
  • Renew the mangroves
    Hurricanes periodically flush out the mangrove waters that have a salty build-up over time. The hurricane provides more diluted seawater with more rain and freshwater runoff.

We feel fortunate that Huatulco and Puerto Escondido are dealing with mostly minor damage. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who were devastated from Hurricane Agatha. We want to help raise funds for building materials to rebuild lost homes. We are aligning with the Local and Federal governments to make sure we are complementing their assistance and helping the most people possible. We have direct contacts in the villages that need the most assistance.

If you would like to make a donation for families in areas of Oaxaca that need assistance, please consider clicking and donating here:

HELP OAXACA 2022

EARTHQUAKE SURVIVORS FUND

 

You can follow us on @OwnMexico on Facebook here for up-to-date news.

 

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