Climate Chaos: Catastrophic Category Five Hurricane Dean

London, UK - 21 August 2007, 04:45 GMT

Dear ATCA Colleagues

[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]

Hurricane Dean has strengthened into a catastrophic Category 5 storm as its first rain and winds begin slamming the coasts of Mexico and Belize. Mexico's state oil company, Petroleos de Mexico (Pemex) is evacuating all of its 14,000+ offshore workers in the southern Gulf of Mexico, which includes the giant Cantarell oil field. President Felipe Calderon is to cut short a trip to North America where he is meeting with US President George Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and return to Mexico from Ottawa, Canada. Shutting the 407 oil wells in the Campeche Sound will result in a production loss of 2.7 million barrels of oil and 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Of that, about 1.7 million barrels of oil a day is exported from three Gulf ports, where the final tankers are being loaded before shutting.

Category 5 storms -- capable of catastrophic damage -- are rare with only three hitting the US since record-keeping began. Dean, which has killed 12 people across the Caribbean, quickly picked up strength after tangentially hitting Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. By early Tuesday morning (GMT), it had sustained winds of 160 mph and was centred about 150 miles south-southeast of Tulum. The eye of Dean was expected to make landfall early Tuesday morning near Chetumal, about 80 miles south of Tulum, Mexico, according to the US National Hurricane Centre. The outer bands of Dean are likely to bring rain, flooding and strong winds to south Texas, already saturated after an unusually rainy summer. At the southern tip of Texas, officials urged residents to evacuate ahead of the storm.

About 70 percent of the 60,000 tourists in the Cancun area of Mexico have left. Some camped overnight at the city's airport to ensure a flight out. Many others were turned away. Workers hammered plywood over the windows of hotels along the tourist strip, where the skyline is still marked with cranes used to repair the damage of Hurricane Wilma, which caused USD 3 billion in losses in 2005. Dean is stronger than Wilma, which stalled over Cancun and pummelled it for a day. The fast-moving Dean was passing farther south, and was likely to deliver a brief but powerful punch to Mexico's Maya heartland. That area stretches from Tulum south to the beach resort at Mahahual. Between the two lies the 2.5 million-acre Sian Kaan nature reserve, with a 1,200-year-old network of Mayan canals.

Belize, just south of Mexico, evacuated 6,000 people from the country's main tourist resort, San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, and 500 or so from nearby Caye Caulker. People were urged to leave low-lying areas. Authorities evacuated Belize City's three hospitals and were moving high-risk patients to the inland capital, Belmopan, founded after 1961's Hurricane Hattie devastated Belize City. Belize City's Mayor has urged people to leave, saying shelters aren't strong enough to withstand a storm of Dean's size.

Dean, the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, raked Jamaica and the Cayman Islands on Sunday, but both escaped the full brunt of the storm. In Jamaica, the storm uprooted trees, flooded roads and collapsed buildings. Downed utility poles left thousands without electricity or telephone service. The worst storm to hit Latin America in modern times was 1998's Hurricane Mitch, which killed nearly 11,000 people and left more than 8,000 missing, most in Honduras and Nicaragua.


We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank you.

Best wishes

For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA)

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies -- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 120 countries: including 1,000 Parliamentarians; 1,500 Chairmen and CEOs of corporations; 1,000 Heads of NGOs; 750 Directors at Academic Centres of Excellence; 500 Inventors and Original thinkers; as well as 250 Editors-in-Chief of major media.

The views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. Please do not forward or use the material circulated without permission and full attribution.

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