Master of Science (MS)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Coastal cities throughout the Caribbean Sea are evaluated to determine the geographical distributions of landfalling tropical storms and hurricanes. A strike model is used to measure tropical storm and hurricane force winds. Twenty-six specific locations in the Caribbean are studied over a time period of over one hundred years from 1901 until 2006. The Caribbean Sea geographically covers a small area of the world; however, this analysis demonstrates the wide variability of the frequency of tropical storms and hurricane strikes in this region. The southernmost portions of the Caribbean, for example Oranjestad, Aruba and Willemstad, Curacao, generally experience lower frequencies of strikes with a major hurricane return period of over 100 years in Oranjestad and Willemstad. Futhermore, Willemstad never experienced a major hurricane strike in the time period. Analyses of the northern parts of the Caribbean including Nassau, Bahamas, Nueva Gerona, Cuba, and Jamaica are locations that experience numerous instances of tropical storm and hurricane landfalls. Temporal variability is apparent and fluctuates greatly in different regions of the Caribbean Sea. Locations that experience higher frequencies of tropical storm strikes tend to have return periods of two to five years. Other areas with less frequent landfalls have return periods of up to fifteen years. For severe hurricanes, the range is from ten year return periods at Nassau, Bahamas to over 100 years at sites to the south in the study region. Specific events of landfalling tropical storms and hurricanes, or lack there of, are directly related to La Niña and El Niño events. The 1933 active hurricane season coincides with a significantly strong La Niña event. Less active hurricane seasons often take place during stronger El Niño years.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Barry D. Keim