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Hurricane, Cyclone and Tropical Storm Information for Dominican Republic

Hurricanes (Huracán in Spanish) are devastating. Even if it is only a tropical storm it can be destructive. Here we hope to help you get prepared, endure and learn about hurricanes and how to survive them here in the Dominican Republic.

Juracán | Hurricane Season | Categories | Warnings | What To Do | Dominican Republic Emergency Center Pamphlet | Taking Care of a Pet | Water Vapor Map Links | Links to Hurricane Related Web Sites | Tropical Storm Jeannie


The work hurricane originates from the Tainos, the original occupants of this island of Hispaniola. Jurakan or Juracán, a Taino God, controlled the power of the hurricane. Jurakan controlled the water and winds. When he was angry a hurricane would appear. He was a very angry deity and was not easy to appease, this is why there are so many storms.

The Spanish who came to the island changed the word from Juracán to huracán. The English adapted the word to become the word hurricane that we use today.

Hurricane Season

The hurricane season in the Caribbean begins on June 1st and finishes in November. In Dominican Republic the most active months for a cyclone are usually mid August through September. The island gets a serious brush on average every 5.03 years. It is averaged that we get a direct hit once every 22.66 years.

We have had 22 hurricanes that have impacted the coast from 1871 to 2004 of which 5 were very devastating.
*September 3, 1930: Huracán San Zenón (4,500 (some accounts say more than 8,000) lives lost. This was one of the top five most devastating Caribbean cyclones)
*October 3, 1963: Huracán Flora (400 lives lost)
*September 26, 1966: Huracán Inés (60 lives lost)
*August 31, 1979: Huracán David (1,000+ lives lost)
*September 22, 1988: Huracán Georges (247 lives lost)

Ciclon San Zenon Santo Domingo September 3, 1930.
The devastating Huracán San Zenón struck Santo Domingo, the Colonial City, on September 3, 1930.

There are a few more pictures of this Hurricane in the Old Pictures Collection – pictures 72,73 and 74)

Hurricane / Huracán, Cyclone / Ciclónica, Tropical Storm / Tormenta Tropical

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, the general term for all circulating weather systems over tropical waters. The hurricane moves counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.

Tropical Disturbance or Tropical Wave is a random mass of thunderstorms, very little if any, organized wind circulation.

Tropical Depression is an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of below 39 mph (34 knots) or less.

Tropical Storm is an organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34-63 knots).

Hurricane is an intense tropical weather system with a well-defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher.

The hurricane is categorized from 1 (weakest) to 5 (strongest).

*Category 1 winds measure between 74 and 95 mph..(64-82 knots)
*Category 2 winds measure between 96 and 110 mph (83-95 knots)
*Category 3 winds measure between 111 and 130 mph. (96-113
*Category 4 sustainable winds between 131 and 155 mph. (114-
135 knots)
*Category 5 Sustainable winds over 155 mph. (135 knots and

Many hurricanes do weaken when and if they hit Dominican Republic because of its rough terrain. If a hurricane or Tropical storm does hit it is very devastating to the coastal areas. Obviously the wind, storm surge and rain are serious issues when we are hit with a hurricane. In the interior of the island heavy rainfall can cause mudslides, destroy mountain roads and homes.

Flooding on Playa Cocolindo after Hurricane Sandy October 2012
Flooding on Playa Cocolindo after Hurricane Sandy passed Dominican Republic October 2012


HURRICANE WATCH means there is a possibility that you could experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours.

You need to prepare just to be safe. Secure the boat, make sure you have all the items ready for securing your home and belongings. Better to be safe than sorry.

HURRICANE WARNING means that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours or less.

If this warning has been issued people should be actively preparing for the storm. Also deciding the safest location to be during the storm.

The hurricane season in Dominican Republic usually lasts from the beginning of June to the end of November, with August and September being the months of greatest storm activity. The hotels and resorts are usually prepared in case a storm does strike while you are visiting. They will inform their guests what is best and may evacuate you to another place if necessary. In general, the island is prepared for these storms and the tourists are usually well taken care of. If a hurricane has hit and you are planning a vacation here call ahead and make sure all is still ready for your arrival.

Many of the buildings in Dominican Republic are made from blocks, cement, iron rods, sand and gravel. These materials are generally weather-resistant. There are also many buildings and homes with tin roofs. These can become deadly when they become dislodged. Also, watch out for flying coconuts.

A large hurricane named Georges hit Dominican Republic on September 22, 1998. It was a category 3. The one before that was hurricane David in 1979. This was a category 5. Thus, the likelihood of getting caught in a hurricane is very small. But, when a hurricane does strike there is a good chance there will be destruction. The threat of a possible approaching hurricane should always be taken seriously and all necessary precautions should be taken.

Hurricane Issac As Seen From The Malecon of Santo Domingo
The smaller Hurricane Issac as seen from the Malecon, Santo Domingo in front of the Jaragua Hotel August 2012

What To Do In Case Of a Hurricane

If you are not in a major hotel or are living on the island and there is a hurricane threat here are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe. Please be prepared in advance. There are many web sites with complete lists on how to ready in the care of a tropical storm or hurricane. This is a short list of what to do so you can be prepared.

*Know the evacuation routes or know someone that knows the routes.
*Bring in things from the outside that can blow around. Anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
*Secure windows with shutters, boards or tape.
*Stay inside, away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
*Keep a door or window open on the opposite side of the force of the wind to avoid a build-up of pressure that will suck your roof off.
*Fill up the gasoline tanks of all your vehicles.
*Fill baths and clean containers with water. Only drink water after it has been boiled for at least 5 minutes or after bleach has been added (eight drops/gallon) or use a water purifier.
*Make sure your propane gas tank supply is shut off at the time of the storm.
*Turn off electricity mains.
*Do not light candles or lighters until you are sure there are no escaped gas fumes close by.
*Make sure to have money because banks and ATMs may be temporarily shut down.
*Stay in a room without windows (bathroom, closet) if you are staying in your home.
*Do not use the telephone except for emergencies.
*If the eye of the storm happens to pass over your area, make sure not to venture outside, as the ferocious back end of the hurricane is still to follow. You should also be very careful what you do after a hurricane has passed. People are frequently killed after a hurricane passes due to electric shocks from fallen wires or lacerations.

Emergency Information Pamphlet

Pamphlet put out by the Emergency Center in DR.
Pamphlet put out by the Emergency Center in DR. It is a large file. Please click to open and read (in Spanish). Feel free to save it for reference.

The National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a Hurricane Safety Guide to help all be prepared in case of a Tropical Storm. It is very complete and informative.

If you live on the island try and have a good plastic tote box filled with necessities just in case the worse happens.
*Food that doesn’t need to be cooked.
*Basic utensils and can opener.
*Soaps and bathroom supplies.
*First aid supplies.
*Personal information.
*Flashlights, matches, candles and batteries.
*Sleeping gear.
*Camping stove and fuel.
*Clothing and rain gear.
*Some basic tools.
*Whatever else you may need to live for a time to make it a bit more comfortable like a book or magazine.

Make sure, if you do decide to leave your home, that you give yourself plenty of time. Do so by heading inland until the storm has passed. If The Dominican Republic Emergency Operations Center / Centro de Operaciones de Emergencias (COE) (checking their web site click on ALERTAS) announces that your area is an evacuation area, it will tell you where the shelters are located and you should go immediately.

Dogs Enjoying A Rainbow After The Storm
Dominican Dog Blog Dogs, Buenagente and Inteliperra, enjoying the rainbow after the storm.

Caring For Pets

Remember you cannot take animals, alcohol, or firearms into a shelter. More information about securing your pet in case of a hurricane on the Dominican Dog Blog “Dog Care For Hurricane Season” (written in English and Spanish).

Vapor Maps

Hurricane water vapor and tracking map of the Caribbean area and The Dominican Republic – Hispaniola. You can watch the skies and see the clouds and many times the eye of the storm in real-time.

An amazing view from NOAA Star GOES-East Image Viewer Full Disk View – GeoColor. Here you can zoom into an area nd see some spectacular images of the earth.

The Malecon during hurricane Sandy
A ship at sea as seen from the Malecon, Santo Domingo, during Hurricane Sandy October 26, 2012.

Civil Defence of Dominican Republic / Defensa Civil de República Dominicana

Tropical Tidbits is a great resource for maps and other critical storms information.

NOAA National Weather Service – National Hurricane Center – Tropical Prediction Center.

Hurricane Watch.org for up to the minute hurricane information

Tropical Hurricane Page and their complete weather page Wunderground.

Acqweather, complete information on the weather in Dominican Republic.SPANISH

Mike’s Weather Page, SpaghettiModels.com, has too much information and links to many weather pages. A great resource. He also has pages on FaceBook and Twitter with updated information.

Caribbean Hurricane Network up to date information on Caribbean weather.

Real Time Lightening Maps is a great resource to watch lightning strikes in the entire world.

Weathernerds provides weather data in a flexible, practical interface.

Link for information on Hurricane David at Hurricane City (born August 31-died September 4, 1974) hit Dominican Republic September 1, 1979. The storm’s highest wind speed was 174 MPH and was the strongest storm to hit the Dominican Republic since 1930.

Hurricane City has interesting information and a radio program to listen to when there are hurricanes that need reported on.

You can watch The Weather Channel Live Streaming Online at Live News Now.

What exactly is a hurricane? To learn more ….

Taking care of your pet during a hurricane.

Legend has it that former President Joaquín Balaguer made a pact with The Virgen de la Altagracia (who is Altagracia?) so the country would not have any large hurricanes…read more on the Myths and Legends page Balaguer and His Hat.

Tropical Storm Jeanne September 16, 2004
Tropical Storm Jeanne as it passed over Dominican Republic September 16, 2004

Tropical Storm Jeanne

This is a picture of Tropical Storm Jeanne when it briefly reached hurricane strength passing over Dominican Republic on September 16, 2004. This picture was taken at 1:55 p.m. Dominican time while the storm had sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour (75 mph) with stronger gusts, and was moving west at 11 km/hr (7 mph). Jeanne was down graded to a tropical storm after its encounter with the island of Hispaniola.

Picture provided by Visible Earth at NASA.

Weather / Clima

The Weather in Dominican Republic

The weather here in Dominican Republic is tropical. It is hot and hotter. The temperature average is 87° degrees Fahrenheit / 30° degrees Celsius. For the high, 72° degrees Fahrenheit / 17° degrees Celsius for the low.

Weather BasicsTemperature VariationsLatitude-LongitudeTime ZoneWeather AlertsWeather StationsFahrenheit to CelsiusCivil Defense AlertsEmergency Operations CenterWildfire Picture

The Dominicans love talking about the weather, just like anywhere throughout the world. You might see them wearing a sweater or even mittens while the tourists are wearing shorts and basking in the sun. The Dominicans will be saying it is cold and the tourists will be sweating. It is all a matter of perspective.

Beat the heat on a Sunday afternoon in Dominican Republic.
Beat the heat on a Sunday afternoon.

Temperature Variations

There are many temperature variations depending on where you are located throughout this large Caribbean island. Coastal areas are hotter than in the mountainous areas. City areas are hotter than the countryside.

The Cordillera Central mountain region is the coolest spot of the country (Jarabacoa and Constanza) where the average temperature is 61° F / 16°C. There has even been a few frosty mornings in the higher altitudes. Sitting water (in a bowl or bucket) can freeze at night in the mountains but it will melt fast as the sun rises. Remember this if you are planning on leaving the coast. Take appropriate clothing with you.

Along the coast the weather is usually warmer. There is usually always a breeze coming off the water. Depending on the time of year a sweater or light jacket may be needed in the evenings. In the desert regions of the southwest are the highest average temperatures. Temperatures can reach above 104°F / 40°C.


There is not much fluctuation in temperatures here in Dominican Republic. It is the humidity that changes.

Wearing a winter jacket in March.
A Dominican man wearing his winter jacket in March. He said it was cold.

The winter season, November thru April, is cooler and less humid. It is the most popular time for tourists arriving to Dominican Republic.

The summer season is May to October. It is humid with more rain. Be prepared to sweat because of the very high humidity.

The rainy season is normally in the spring but the weather patterns are changing. Along the northern coast, the rainy season lasts from November through January. In the rest of the country, it runs from May through November. May is normally the wettest month.

When it does rain it is usually not for long, unless there is a tropical depression or hurricane happening. The sun usually shines and there are very few days of complete cloud cover. When on vacation there is a very good chance one will be able to get that much desired tan. Make sure to bring the sunscreen as the tropical sun is very hot.

Mosquito Spray

Another thing to remember is when you come on a vacation bring the mosquito spray. Something with DEET is suggested. If you are sitting on the beach where there is always a breeze you will usually not be bothered by the mosquitoes and no-seeums. If the breeze stops of if you leave the resorts you WILL notice the mosquitoes. Most resorts spray for these pesky little buggers but when trekking away from the tourist areas it is wise to be prepared.


The Latitude and Longitude of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic is 18.4° N 69.9° W.

It is very good to know the location of places in the Caribbean for weather, storm and emergency alerts.

The Latitude and Longitude of Dominican Republic
The Latitude and Longitude of Dominican Republic

Time Zone

Most weather advisories are in the local time zone of where the storm is located. Many times the weather service uses Zulu Time (Z) or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), formerly known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Dominican Republic is in Eastern Standard Time (EST) and they do not change the time for Daylight Savings Time. For Dominican time subtract 5 hours from UTC (ex. if UTC time is 11 AM the time in Dominican Republic is 6AM).

Weather Alerts

Most weather alerts will say Dominican Republic or República Dominicana. There can also be alerts for Hispaniola, which is the name of our island. We are also known as the Greater Antilles, the island chain that includes Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico. Water surrounds the island on three sides. The Atlantic Ocean to the north, The Mona Passage which is the water pass that divides Puerto Rico from Dominican Republic and the Caribbean Sea on the south. We can get many different storms coming from all different directions.

Weather Stations in Dominican Republic

Weather Stations and codesLatitude (n)Longitude(w)Elevation (meters)
Barahona (MDBH)18-12 N071-06 W3
La Romana International Airport (MDLR)18-25 N068-57 W8
Las Americas - Santo Domingo (MDSD)18-26 N069-40 W18
Santiago (MDST)19-27 N070-42 W183
Punta Cana (MDPC)18-34 N068-22 W12

Fahrenheit to Celsius

To change Fahrenheit to Celsius and back there are a few formulas

*This formula is an calculation which could be difficult unless you are a mathematician or have a pencil and paper.
Fahrenheit to Celsius °C × 1.8 then + 32 = °F
Celsius to Fahrenheit °F – 32 then ÷ 1.8 = °C

*A little easier yet exact if you double the Celsius, minus 10%, plus 32° = Fahrenheit. i.e. 26° Celsius x 2 = 52 – 10% = 47 + 32 = 79° Fahrenheit.

*The easiest and fastest calculations to figure the exchange but not as precise. To change Fahrenheit to Celsius subtract 32 from the degrees Fahrenheit, divide the answer by 9, multiply the answer by 5 and you have it.

Civil Defense

Defensa Civil República Dominicana
Dominican Republic has a Civil Defense Division / Defensa Civil República Dominicana. They set up evacuation routes and shelters as determined by the weather and need. You just have to keep listening to the radio and people talking to find out exactly where to go and what to do in the event of an emergency.

Dominican Republic Civil Defense Alerts
The Defensa Civil / Civil Defense of Dominican Republic has set up an alert system for emergencies. Weather, beach conditions and more are covered under this system. They place different flags on the beaches and other areas when the weather gets rough.

ALERTA VERDE / GREEN ALERT – Is to alert that there is a chance or they are expecting a state of emergency that could be happening. This is the lowest alert and lets one know to pay attention to what is or could be coming.

ALERTA AMARILLA / YELLOW ALERT – To warn if the development persists or continues to develop there is an eminent risk of danger. This is the second warning and is to be paid attention to very closely as the civil defence thinks that this is an emergency developing.

ALERTA ROJA / RED ALERT – This is to say that this is a serious threat to an area and the people and properties and environment in an area. This is a serious warning. If you are on a beach area DO NOT go into the water when this alert flag is up.

The Dominican Republic Emergency Operations Center

Centro de Operaciones de Emergencias (COE) is a great place to check when there are weather alerts. The page is in Spanish but it will tell you what areas are having storm warnings. They will give the areas the color rating above and state the locations where there could be potential problems. Click on the section that says “ALERTAS” and you will view all the updates. Click on the newest link and read the updates on the weather situation. They are very efficient in posting their alerts.


Satellite view of Dominican Republic Wildfires in 2008
Satellite view of Dominican Republic Wildfires in 2008

Satellite picture of Wildfires in Dominican Republic taken on March 18, 2005 from a satellite provided by NASA. This is when we had many wild fires during the dry season running from December to May for most of the island.

Picture provided by Visible Earth at NASA