Hurricanes in Chiapas

I have just added the historical hurricane paths to my PostGIS data base from NOAA http://maps.csc.noaa.gov/hurricanes/

The data base has storm tracks from 1851 to 2006. The above maps shows only those since 1990. This is a very valuable resource that is well worth including in the regional data base and looking at in more detail. The interesting element as far as the state of Chiapas is concerned is that very few hurricanes actually track over the state. This is clearer when the whole (150 year) historical data set is included as shown in the figure below. However the moist air masses associated with hurricanes can cause substantial rainfall in the state even when the centre of the hurricane is some distance to the north or east.

When the map is zoomed out further a very clear cut off point emerges, forming an almost horizontal line at around 8 degrees North. This is a feature associated with  the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ),

This rather sharp transition also explains some of the strange patterns in the maps of global circulation model simulations which also show a pronounced band around the equatorial ITCZ. The cut off may alter in extent over the next century as the effects of global warming are felt. If it expands slightly northwards, then rainfall associated with hurricanes and tropical storms may also move, leading to a general decline in rainfall in southern Mexico. This could occur even if hurricane intensity and frequency in the Atlantic basin follows an overall increasing trend.

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