Hurricane Ian in Playa del Carmen

Beach in Playa del Carmen

Hurricane Season!!! I really should have been a storm chaser when I was younger and, therefore, less concerned about my mortality. Giant storms are both terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. There is a lot of preparation that goes into making sure that you don’t die in the event of a hurricane. Luckily, with current technology, I have a pretty good idea if I need to prep at least a week in advance.

Be prepared

I’ve already made my way through one major hurricane in Punta Cana, DR (check out my Hurricane Irma adventure here!). The first step is monitoring the major weather channels to see if anything is brewing near you. Expat forums are also great for staying up to date of anything dangerous heading your way. We all chatted and speculated away as we watched Hurricane Ian form in the Atlantic Ocean.

Raining off my apartment balcony
This is the view from my balcony as Hurricane Ian traveled past México. When it rains, it rains hard!

There is so much uncertainty about where a hurricane will track, especially before it has even formed. The experts make all these computer simulations and overlay them to come up with the most likely path of the storm. Hurricane Ian really looked like it was on course to hit Playa del Carmen. If not hit it directly, at least get close enough to do some damage. Time to prep!

I knew I would be here in Playa during the entire hurricane season, so I rented an apartment that was not right on the beach. Sure, it’s nice to get up in the morning and watch the sunrise over the ocean with a cup of coffee. But if a storm surge floods your place, or you have to evacuate to who knows where, it might not be worth it. Best to be a few blocks back, or at least up a hill. Plus, you save on rent!

Tiny bit of flooding near the beach
Playa got a small amount of flooding from storm surge near the beach.

You can use pool water to flush the toilet!

Wind can be a major concern during a hurricane, but the primary killer is flooding. I’m two floors above ground level, which is very nice. However, my apartment has a basement which houses our water pumps. If the basement floods, we will all be without water for a while. You can’t drink it anyway, but being without would still suck. Luckily, there is a pool on the roof, which (with a bucket) you can use as a source for toilet flushing water.

I made sure to stock up on potable water just in case. If the power goes out, it’s best to have some frozen water bottles in the freezer. This will help keep things cold and can be drunk once they melt. I make sure everything important is charged up. A quick stock of non-perishable food items plus booze and I’m ready. I also got some cash in case electricity goes out for an extended period. Now the waiting game.

Storm surge on the beach
These cabanas got some flooding from storm surge caused by Hurricane Ian. Nothing too bad.

My apartment has these gorgeous floor to ceiling windows and sliding doors that look toward the ocean. I’m ever so slightly concerned about them. The windows in the bedroom leak a little when it rains really hard. I don’t know how they will hold up to hurricane-force winds. If I get a major storm, I won’t be able to watch it because I will need to close all the blinds in case the windows shatter. Best to be prepared!

Missed us!

It soon became clear that Hurricane Ian was going to pass right by México. In fact, because of the way the storm was spinning, we weren’t even going to get much rain out of it. Sorry, Cuba! I prepared anyway because you never know if it will do something unexpected. I didn’t go so far as to make a ‘get-out-of-dodge’ bag with my passport, medications, water, and such like I did for Hurricane Irma in the Dominican Republic. But I thought about it!

Sandbags used to protect the beach
There used to be a large beach here with beach club tables, chairs, and loungers. They tried to use sandbags to stop the errosion. Crazy!

It was a non-event… except for the storm surge. Playa is protected from most big waves because we are in the shadow of Cozumel. So I was really surprised how big the surf was the next day and how much beach got washed out to sea. The beach will rebuild itself over time (unless there are concrete walls or other structures that limit reformation), but it’s always dismaying to see it gone.

It was, however, super fun to see surfers and swimmers getting pummeled in the waves! I went in for a bit, but it was too much for me. I left my towel on the beach, and a massive wave went over the crest of the sand and got it all wet! Some nice tourist tried to help me out by moving it further back from the shore, but it was too late. The surf just came up so fast!

More errosion along the beach
All the sand washed out exposing limestone underneath. It’s amazing how much beach is now missing! The beach club in the middle is about one storm away from losing their deck.

What happened to the beach!?!

I’ve been making friends here (which is the best!) and we’ve met at this really cute beach club a couple of times. I walked down to the beach club this morning to check the damage, and their beach was gone. Just gone. They used to have umbrellas and tables in the sand. Not so much now. They are far enough back from the ocean that the beach will come back quickly. They just have to wait.

However, a different beach club further down was not so smart with their construction. They tried to use sandbags and a giant log to save as much of their beach as possible, but it did little to help them. It’s crazy that it was just gone overnight! It will be interesting to see how much and how fast the sand returns.

Mrs. ItchyFeet at a beach club
After the storm, I went to a beach club to watch people get pummeled by the high surf. Stay safe!

I feel bad for Cuba and Florida. They both really took a hit from Hurricane Ian. While storms are exciting, I would not want to be without electricity and water for any extended period of time. I’m also glad I’m just renting. If anything terrible happens, I can always move on. That’s not a luxury everyone has.

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  1. Glad it missed you. FL really got hammered.
    The weather news in Seattle is, it’s very nice. Too nice. Hasn’t really rained in about 2 months. Fire and varying smoke problems are pretty constant. Smoke is generally not too bad in Seattle but some E. WA sites are bad.
    Fires really won’t go away until it rains.
    We skipped last weeks hike due to smoke and road closures.

  2. It sounds as if you have you’ve got a good hurricane process.
    Glad to hear than Ian decided to go else where.

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