Hurricane Odile: The Movie

And how fast Cabo bounced back
BY: DAVID ZIVIC

This is the 5th anniversary, yes, it was five years this September when Odile made landfall at Los Cabos and the Baja Peninsula.

Our story begins as innocuous enough when the temperature rose over the distant continent called Africa. This rising tropical wave was picked up with the prevailing winds, and these disorganized showers moved West and OUT OF AFRICA on August 28, 2014. These little thunderstorms continue over the Caribbean and the ISLANDS IN THE STREAM. There are two species of cuckoos living, in their nests, under the Rain Storms of Central America one of these western moving storms.  

Odile photo Zivic.jpg

It is one of these storms that were ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST. It is now September 3. After that, the disturbance is dumped into the East Pacific Basin. This is about when some of you noticed small, disorganized clouds at www.eebmike.com or some other weather site.

Now things started to get visible on the radar scopes at about the Gulf of Tehuantepec on September 6. Then a couple of days later, just South of Acapulco on September 10, got its status raised to "Named Wind Storm" and became Odile. Experienced mariners, and some not so much start to pay attention and follow the progress. On September 13, several situations interacted: Wind sheer, encircled rainbands, improved outflow aloft, and now those scenarios, create THE PERFECT STORM. Hurricane Odile has made it to Big Time. It is moving faster and stronger, and a phase of rapid intensification, and forming a spectacular satellite image of the cone. 

As is often seen in disaster movies, some people are getting preparations in anticipation of a big one, others were very casual in their approach having experienced several local Hurricanes over the years. It was now Sunday, September 14. Some locals at the Tiki Bar and Tanga Tanga were watching the Chargers beat the Seahawks 30-21, etc. On the 15, Odile hit landfall at reported sustained 125mph, I personally felt several gusts well excess of that. Like a Hurricane in the Northern hemisphere with a counter clockwise rotation, it came downtown pretty much right down Marina Boulevard. So first the wind came from the east and knocked down everything from that side, then there was the calm within the eye, then a second one came from the west and mopped up everything that came from the left. Then, finally, Odile left Cabo and was GONE WITH THE WIND. THE END

The Reviews

Odile was the first major hurricane to strike the Baja California peninsula in 25 years and the most destructive tropical cyclone on record to affect this region. The massive storm caused widespread severe damage over Baja California Sur, with strong winds toppling trees, power lines, and street signs. Windows were blown out of many of the luxury high-rise hotels lining the shore of Cabo San Lucas and adjacent areas, with several hotels collapsing or inundated by water. Odile devastated the region's electrical infrastructure, taking out about 550 high-tension transmission towers and 3,400 distribution posts. The government of Mexico reported that over 239,000 people (over 90 percent of the population) were left without electricity in Baja California Sur. The Cabo San Lucas International Airport was severely damaged and 3,000 to 4,000 people were stranded due to canceled flights. Except for shipments of humanitarian relief, flights at the airport were suspended. In the city of San José del Cabo, severe damage was reported, with drinking water unavailable and communications left inoperative. The hurricane left thousands homeless in that town, and many in the state's more rural and adjacent communities became utterly isolated.

It extended northward along the west coast of Baja Calfornia Sur, with areas such as Todos Santos, Pescadero, and Sierra de Laguna severely affected. In these towns, many people lost virtually everything they owned. The hurricane produced considerable damage in the coastal city of La Paz, where up to 10,000 residents were left homeless. Boats were capsized or pushed onshore, presumably as a result of the storm surge. In Loreto, Comandú, and Mulege, strong winds combined with heavy rains washed away roads and destroyed bridges making transportation and relief activities difficult. In Bahía de Los Angeles, severe flooding made the main roadway impassable, trapping around 90 families for many days. 

Based on media, a total of 11 direct deaths were reported with 3 being attributed to Odile, with 8 deaths and at least 135 injuries reported in Baja California Sur. Two Korean mining executives crossing a flooded stream in Santa Rosalía drowned. Then another man has swept away when crossing the Santa Rosa stream in Cabo San José del Cabo in his car. A 28-year-old man attempting to cross a flooded roadway in his pickup truck also drowned. The body of a 45-year-old British female tourist was found in a mangrove thicket near La Paz, apparently having drowned there. Her husband had been living with her on a yacht in the La Paz harbor. He was initially reported missing but has since been confirmed dead after a search and rescue operation. Two other deaths in Baja California Sur were reported as a result of the storm, one in the community of Todos Santos and one in Pescadero. 

Now the Horror Movie moved on. The local people then stepped up to the plate, like in THE NATURAL. The very next morning, there were homeowners, rentals, and stores and shops all immediately starting to remove the debris, and there was certainly a lot of that. Nobody ran back to wherever they came, and all did their job as was appropriate in a disaster. In what appeared to be a routine hurricane turned out into the hurricane of the century with only 48 hours notice. 

Mexican President Peña Nieto, responded after the event with nothing less than a blank check and all hands on deck. He immediately put the Ministers of Tourism and the Interior in charge to coordinate the immediate recovery.

Leading the charge was the appearance of a newly formed organization called Gendarmerie. This Federal organization showed up with a bunch of excellent and reliability SUVs with lights on the roof. They seemed to be sort of like Public Relation Monitors to control any unsavory activity and troubleshooters wherever they were needed. They had spiffy uniforms, young and intelligent, men and women, and they patrolled the streets of Los Cabos for 24 hours. Of course there was an obligatory military presence. They had strong, heavy lifting responsibilities, but they were sort of "On Call" as opposed to being intimidating. 

I saw 50 trucks arrive with many trailers towing new electric poles, and others loaded with transformers and spools of cable. The set up look significantly like a military camp. They worked very long hours, zone by zone, and safely got power back on in the town.

Needless to say, morale can be a huge issue. In this case, the Baja California Sur Tourist Secretary used this opportunity to make a significant presence. They created a hashtag "#CaboStrong."  It soon went viral. It was that positive information propaganda campaign that created a significant and very positive influence on the residents. Everybody rapidly went into fishing, golfing and partying, and the town moved on to bigger and better things. Enjoy!