Risk in the Yucatán Peninsula: arrival of hurricanes would be devastating

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The risk in the Yucatan Peninsula due to the arrival of hurricanes has grown a lot in recent years, mainly in the central-northern area of the state and in the Riviera Maya-Cancún, in Quintana Roo, where the danger levels are now very high, warn UNAM scientists.

This is due, they say, to the greater probability of tropical cyclones occurring on the Peninsula—which would become increasingly more frequent and intense due to climate change—and to demographic and construction growth in the area.

Due to these circumstances, the arrival of a strong hurricane in this part of the country would leave very considerable economic and social damage to the buildings and its inhabitants, many of whom live in vulnerable socioeconomic conditions.

In a research, entitled “Evaluation of temporal-spaces changes in the risk of hurricanes in the Yucatan Peninsula”, its authors, David Romero, doctor in Geography, specialized in Water Sciences, Climatology and Geostatistics and professor at the National School of Higher Studies of the UNAM, Mérida Unit, and José Francisco León-Cruz, doctor in Applied Geosciences, attached to the Institute of Geography of the UNAM, studied the temporal change in the risk of hurricanes in the Peninsula, during three periods 1945-2000 , until 2010 and then until 2020, analyzing its three components: danger, vulnerability and exposure.

The combination of these three variables at a specific time and place allowed the researchers to calculate the level of risk on the Peninsula in the event of the arrival of a strong cyclone.

The risk level of a hurricane in the Yucatan Peninsula increases

In their study they state that in recent years the components of each of these variables have increased and, therefore, the level of risk.

In the case of the danger variable, the main one in the risk index, this refers to the possibility of strong cyclones occurring in the future, capable of causing adverse effects.

In the case of the Yucatecan Peninsula, this possibility has increased greatly, as we will detail in future installments.

The vulnerability variable refers to the propensity of a population to be negatively affected by a cyclone, or other natural phenomenon, and exposure is the variable related to the inventory of goods, services, number of inhabitants and economic resources in a given area, where a hurricane is likely to pass through.

The aforementioned research characterized the risk associated with the occurrence of strong hurricanes in the Yucatan Peninsula, using an approach in which the risk is the product of danger, exposure and vulnerability.

The results of the study show that the increase in the frequency of tropical cyclones, combined with high population densities and marginalization; That is, the vulnerability of broad social sectors leads to higher levels of risk of tropical cyclones.

Localities in Yucatán that would be most affected by a hurricane

Thus, the localities in Yucatán with very high levels of risk would be, among others, the following: Tizimín, especially the southern part; Buctzotz, Espita, Calotmul, Temozón, Valladolid, Chemax, Sotuta, Tunkás, Quintana Roo, Tekom, Kaua, Uayma, Yaxcabá and Izamal. Also Telchac Puerto, Yobaín, Dzoncauich, Dzilam González, Motul, Cansahcab and Tepakán.

Populations such as San Crisanto, Chabihau, Dzilam Bravo and Cenotillo appear at high risk. The coastal strip from San Felipe to El Cuyo presents, on the other hand, a medium risk level.

Source: Diario de Yucatan