Tag Archives: emergency operations

Earthquakes & Terremotos

Earthquake / Terremotos / Temblor de Tierra Information for
Dominican Republic

Earthquakes / los Terremotos/ Temblor de Tierra

Yes, we do have earthquakes in Dominican Republic. We call an Earthquake in Spanish a Terremoto or Temblor de Tierra. Whatever you want to call them we do have this earth-shaking phenomenon occurring here on our island and we do have many earthquakes. The island of Hispaniola does have seismic activity almost daily, as with many places throughout the world, but the activity is so small that usually it cannot be felt. Every so often the quakes are strong and they can be felt. You can feel the earth move and sway under your feet!

Fault Lines | Fault Line Map | What to Do | Largest Quakes in Dominican Republic | The Quake Sept. 2003 | Recommended Emergency Products | Links to Earthquake Related Web Sites

The island of Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles chain of islands, rose out of the sea due to volcanic action. Dominican Republic has a long history of volcanic and seismic activity. The tallest mountain on the island, and for that matter in all of the Caribbean, is Pico Duarte. This mountain was at one time an active volcano. It rose out of the sea starting with this mountain and it is still rising. Many of the under water caves are not under water now. Don’t worry about Volcanoes for now. There are no active volcanos on our island.

Fault Lines

There are two major fault systems or lines that run through the island. In the North Hispaniola Trench. It is located just offshore running parallel to the north coast. The other is the Septentrional Fault Zone which runs from the North Hispaniola Trench to the Cibao Valley and Santiago. The Septentrional Fault Zone is responsible for most of the earthquakes in Dominican Republic’s history.
View a PDF document of the fault lines going through Dominican Republic by www.ig.utexas.edu

The Puerto Rico Trench (on the Northern side of Puerto Rico and the Northeast tip of Dominican Republic), which is close to the Mona Passage, marks a boundary where the North American tectonic plate and the Caribbean tectonic plate slide past each other, with the North American plate also subducting or sliding beneath the Caribbean plate. With water depths of more than 8 km (5 mi) make the Puerto Rico Trench the deepest part in the entire Atlantic Ocean.(see the map and learn more)

The Mona Passage is the water pass that divides Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the northeastern Caribbean. This area is very earthquake prone. Since the water level in this passage between the two islands is quite low it is very susceptible to Tsunamis. This passage has very fast flowing and dangerous waters with shifting currents that occur when the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet.

Fault Lines / Fallas Sísmicas

Map - Fault lines/ fallas sísmicas running through the island of Hispaniola.
Map – Fault lines/ fallas sísmicas running through the island of Hispaniola.

There are also many smaller fault lines/ fallas sísmicas running through the island of Hispaniola. This is a map from Emergency Operations Center (COE) showing all the lines running through Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Brochures – What To Do

Below are the instructional brochures put out by the Emergency Operations Center about what to do before and after an Earthquake happens. They are in Spanish. Click on the images to see the images to enlarge.

COE Instructional Brochure - What to do before earthquake in Spanish
COE Instructional Brochure – What to do before earthquake in Spanish
COE Instructional Brochure - What to do after an  earthquake in Spanish
COE Instructional Brochure – What to do after an earthquake in Spanish

Many people say many different things one needs to do to be safe during an earthquake. Stand in a doorway, don’t stand in a doorway. Don’t go outside, get outside and away from buildings. Get under something inside your house, get in the “Triangle of Life” / “Triangulo de Vida” around a piece of furniture. While others say you need to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” / “Agacharse, cubrirse y agarrarse”. Our suggestion is to do a search and see what you should do in case an earthquake happens.

Make a plan with your family and loved ones what to do and where to meet in case of an emergency situation. We also suggest if you are coming on vacation don’t worry about it. Just come and enjoy. Leave all the worries at home and relax. Earthquakes do not happen often and the hotel staff will be there to inform all on their procedures.

The Largest Earthquakes

The largest earthquake on record in recent history for the Dominican Republic was August 15, 1946. It was recorded at 8.1 and centered in Matanza in Maria Trinidad Sánchez, Nagua on the northern part of the island (a large tsunami hit the coast from Arroyo Salado to Cabrera and left areas under water for about three weeks was recorded at that time).

Other notable quakes:
*1961 – 6.6 quake southeast of Santo Domingo.
*1971 – 6.0 quake registered in the Azua area.
*1991 – 7.0 quake recorded in the Central Mountains and San Juan de la Maguana area.
*March 1993 – a 5.2 earthquake affected the south and southwest parts of Dominican Republic along the Mona Passage.
*April 1993 – a 5.7 earthquake affected the Cibao region.
*June 1993 – a 5.1 earthquake affected San Francisco de Macoris area in the northeast.
*January 5th, 2012 – in Palmar de Ocoa (some information on the San Jose de Ocoa quake)
*January 22, 2012 – a 5.0 in the East near La Romana.
*January 23, 2012 – a 5.4 Rio San Juan.(some more information about this and more quakes in January 2012)
*May 28, 2014 – a 5.8 at Boca De Yuma – Mona Passage at 5:15PM
*February 4, 2019 – a 5.3 quake at 10:33AM. 31km SSE of Boca de Yuma, Dominican Republic. People felt it in Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, Haina, Bani, Las Terrenas and many other locations in the country.

There was a 9.0 earthquake when the Europeans occupied the island on December 2, 1562. It destroyed the cities of La Vega and Santiago. A quake estimated to be a 10.0 happened on October 18, 1751 and devastated the southern region. A terremoto estimated to be 11.0 happened on May 7, 1842 destroyed the north of Haiti and much of what is now the Dominican Republic.

There have been many earthquakes and tsunamis resulting from the tectonic-plate motions that have occurred in the history of the northeastern Caribbean.

Sept. 22, 2003 Quake

At 11:45 pm on 22 September 2003, a M 6.7 earthquake severely shook the northern part of Dominican Republic. It caused extensive damage to buildings in the major cities of Puerto Plata and Santiago along with landslides in the outlying areas. There were also several large aftershocks (over 200 in all) that happened in the days and hours following this quake.

Here are a few pictures of an earthquake that happened in September 2003. These were taken in the Puerta Plata area by our friend Cochman.

September 2003 Earthquake in Puerta Plata Dominican Republic house
September 2003 Earthquake in Puerta Plata Dominican Republic house
September 2003 Earthquake in Puerta Plata Dominican Republic store
September 2003 Earthquake in Puerta Plata Dominican Republic store
September 2003 Earthquake in Puerta Plata Dominican Republic observing the damage
September 2003 Earthquake in Puerta Plata Dominican Republic observing the damage
September 2003 Earthquake in Puerta Plata Dominican Republic house
September 2003 Earthquake in Puerta Plata Dominican Republic house

Recommended Emergency Products

The Earthquake Alarm (Amazon) can wake you up and alert you the moment a quake starts giving you more time to take cover.

*Operates off of a 9-volt battery.
*Loud distinctive alarm to wake you up.
*Can detect earthquakes miles away.
*Fully adjustable sensitivity setting. and more..(incluye instrucciones en espanol!)

I have heard many people use a detector and they say they work quite well. I recommend getting one if you live in any Earthquake prone area.

Another product that I read about is The Quake Escape

Ready America 70280 Emergency Kit, 2-Person, 3-Day Backpack. A backpack that keeps supplies at the ready. (Amazon)

*Sustains two people for three days
*Includes food, water, and emergency blankets
*One 33-piece first aid kit

NOAA Weather Radio and Solar Emergency Survival Device (Amazon)

*AM/FM Transmission
*Windup Power for Emergencies, Tornadoes, Hurricanes
*Micro USB Charger and Power Bank for Cell Phones and Electron

*The Dominican Republic Emergency Operations Center (COE). They now offer a downloadable App for emergency Alerts – Alerta COE.

Other instructions on how to prepare for an earthquake and other interesting web sites about earthquakes.

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

*Global Earthquake Monitor – list, news and maps of recent quakes worldwide.

*Create an Earthquake Emergency Handbook

*This is the Earthquake information from the Puerto Rico Seismic Network

*Earths view of Earthquake activity

*Quakes – Live Earthquakes Map and other interesting maps.

*Earthquake forecasting and hazard analysis.

*USGS Earthquakes Hazards Program has all the Earthquakes listed in the world for the last 7 days. The latest in USA and surrounding areas (including Dominican Republic – sometimes called Mona Passage) with an earthquake of Magnitude 2.5 or greater. All other areas of the world are listed when they have a quake with a Magnitude 4.0 or greater.

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