Thinking about Jamaica

by sawamix

It’s unusual to sit in New Jersey and thank one’s lucky stars that one is not in Jamaica. But thanks to our realization a few years ago that having a whole weekend at home is worth missing one day in Jamaica, we departed as planned on Friday from a normal airport in Montego Bay — the calm before the storm.

By yesterday, the scramble to leave was in full force, and anyone who didn’t get out by 8 PM is going to have to hunker down and ride out the storm. There’s always the temptation, when going to Jamaica during hurricane season, to think it would be “cool” — a unique “experience” — to see a tropical hurricane. But we here in the northern U.S., where big storms are few and far between, aren’t positioned well to have the philosophical attitude that Jamaicans have. And any tourists who didn’t even try to get the hell out of there yesterday is not just nuts, but also potentially a disruption for hotel staffers who have to now worry about foreigners not accustomed to tropical severe weather, in addition to protecting their own families and homes.

At 5 AM, it looked like Jeff Masters might be right, and that Jamaicans may have succeeded in praying the hurricane away, or at least to the south. With 145mph sustained winds, this is cold comfort, but the further south the eye hits, the better for Jamaica — “better” being a relative term.

This real-time loop shows a hurricane still undecided as to just how close to Jamaica it wants to be. It veers west, then northwest, then west again.

All one can do now is wait and see — and hope that for a country just beginning to emerge from third world status, the huge strides made in infrastructure in recent years aren’t reduced to rubble.

UPDATES:

Live (or nearly live) reports from Jamaica at:

Power 106 (audio stream)
Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog (and comments)
Weathervine
Negril.com messageboard

ANOTHER UPDATE: You can help Jamaicans in need of medical care and other assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Dean here.