Here we are in Los Cabos on August 18, 2023, and we’re waiting to see what Hurricane Hilary has in store for us. At the time of this writing, Hilary is a Category 4 hurricane located approximately 300 miles south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas. When the eye passes to the west of us early tomorrow, we expect high winds and torrential rainfall. All of us in the Baja peninsula are hoping for very little damage, and we’re confident that Hilary will not be anything like Hurricane Odile in 2014; that one stands out in our collective memories as one of the worst storms Cabo has seen in recent history.
The history of hurricanes in Baja California Sur stretches back centuries. Indigenous communities along the coast witnessed these awe-inspiring storms with a mix of dread and reverence. Their oral traditions, passed down through generations, speak of powerful winds and surging waters that reshaped their world. Although details are sparse, these early encounters with hurricanes played a crucial role in shaping the cultural and societal fabric of the region.
The arrival of Spanish explorers and settlers in the 16th century marked a new chapter in Baja California Sur’s hurricane history. Written records from this time reveal tales of destruction caused by these natural disasters. Remote settlements were vulnerable to hurricane-induced flooding, which disrupted agricultural activities and local economies.
As time progressed, advancements in meteorology provided a better understanding of hurricanes and their behavior. Establishing weather monitoring stations and developing satellite technology allowed for more accurate tracking and prediction of these storms. This, in turn, enabled local authorities to issue timely warnings and evacuation orders, reducing the loss of life and property during hurricane events.
Some notable hurricanes have left their mark on Baja California Sur:
Hurricane Liza (1976): Liza’s impact was felt along the entire Baja California peninsula, causing extensive damage to infrastructure and agriculture.
Hurricane Odile (2014): One of the most powerful hurricanes to hit Baja California Sur in recent history, Odile brought destruction, flooding, and power outages to the region.
Adaptation and Preparedness
The history of hurricanes in Baja California Sur has inured expats and locals to the need for savvy hurricane preparedness. Storm shutters are very common and a highly effective means of protecting houses and condos from wind and rain damage. Portable generators are invaluable for extended power outages. And ahead of major storms, we all know to stock up on cash, candles, batteries, food, water, first aid items, solar chargers, lighters, etc. We also make sure to have a full tank of gas and an emergency plan with important numbers visible and easily accessible.
Surviving the Storm
The history of hurricanes in Baja California Sur is a tale of challenges, perseverance, and growth. From the ancient civilizations that respected the power of these storms to the modern era of meteorological science and preparedness, hurricanes are as awe-inspiring as they are inevitable. With each hurricane event, lessons are learned and strategies refined, highlighting the ability of communities to adapt and thrive even in the face of nature’s fury. As Baja California Sur continues to evolve, its history with hurricanes serves as a reminder of the fragility and resilience of life in this remarkable part of the world.