Effects of Hurricane Ivan in Jamaica
|Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)|
Satellite image of Hurricane Ivan passing south of Jamaica
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained:
150 mph (240 km/h)
|Damage||$360 million (2004 USD)|
|Part of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season|
The effects of Hurricane Ivan in Jamaica were among the worst from a tropical cyclone in the island's recorded history. Hurricane Ivan formed as a Cape Verde-type hurricane in early September 2004 and became the ninth named storm, the sixth hurricane, and the fourth major hurricane of the year. Ivan reached Category 5 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, the strongest possible category. Ivan became the sixth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record. In Jamaica, the storm caused severe damage which left 18,000 people homeless. An estimated 17 people on the island were killed by Ivan.
On September 12, 2004, a hurricane watch was issued for the island. The next day, that advisory was upgraded to a hurricane warning, as hurricane conditions had become more imminent. By 1500 UTC on September 12, all tropical cyclone watches and warnings were discontinued for Jamaica. About 500,000 Jamaicans were told to evacuate from coastal areas, P.J. Patterson, Prime Minister, declared a public emergency. According to Patterson, the island had to "prepare for the worst-case scenario". Schools and churches were converted into shelters, and the national blood bank requested residents to donate blood, in anticipation of potential injuries. By September 10, over 1,000 individual shelters were set up throughout the country. The Jamaican Government urged off-duty corrections officers to report to work. Air Jamaica canceled all flights to and from the island, as well as inter-island flights; aircraft were transported to the United States until the storm passed. The Mennonite Central Committee designated the equivalence of $20,000 USD for assisting with potential damage. Businesses in Kingston were closed, and fishermen secured their boats to trees. Workers boarded up windows, and grocery stores remained open later than normal to allow for residents to purchase supplies.
On September 11 and September 12, the center of Ivan passed near Jamaica. High winds and heavy rainfall affected the island, causing significant wind and flood damage. The storm was described as one of the most intense hurricanes in Jamaica's recorded history. Rainfall exceeded 35 inches (0.89 m) in some places. At Ritchies, 28.37 in (720.8 mm) of rain was reported, and 27.92 in (709.4 mm) fell at Mavis Bank. In southern parishes, rainfall data was were lost due to damage to rain gauges. Doppler radar velocity data estimated that winds of 112 miles per hour (180 km/h) affected the island. Pedro Bank, to the southwest of Jamaica, reported a 10-minute average wind of 133 miles per hour (214 km/h). Ivan caused severe damage, damaging and destroying houses, and triggering mudslides that washed out roads. In Kingston, the winds downed trees and poles and caused flooding. In Montego Bay, the Barnett River overflowed its banks; businesses were flooded with up to 4 feet (1.2 m) of water. Roads suffered flooding, and part of the A1 Road, the primary northern coastal highway, was washed away. Along the coast, 23 ft (7.0 m) were reported, and in Kingston, several large trees were brought down. Tiles on the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel were blown off and broken, and waves flooded a causeway to an airport near Kingston that was closed and evacuated.
Due to a shift Ivan's track, the capital city of Kingston was spared from extreme damage. However, flooding in the city was deemed a "major catastrophe". Some roads throughout the region were left impassible due to downed trees and utility poles. The majority of tourism and resort areas suffered "mainly cosmetic damage and all structures remained primarily intact". In the aftermath of the storm, looters were reported roaming the streets of Jamaica's capital city, Kingston, robbing emergency workers at gunpoint. Overall, 17 people were killed in Jamaica and 18,000 people were left homeless as a result of the flood waters and high winds. Damage on the island totaled US$360 million (2004 USD).
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- United States Department of State. U.S. Gives Jamaica $450,000 for School Equipment and Supplies. Retrieved on 2005-02-16.