Hurricanes: Horror or Help?
The Weather Page
Courtesy of El Verde's weather station staff
The rabijunco is a local bird that lives along the coast. English speakers call it the magnificent frigate bird. On rare occasions, the bird suddenly starts flying inland, over the forest. We meteorologists at El Verde move into action. We know the bird’s strange flight pattern means a hurricane is approaching. From the time we were very young, coquís have heard stories about hurricanes. Winds can topple trees. Downpours can rip leaves off their branches. Floods can submerge an entire forest plain. Few of us have lived through a hurricane. What can we expect?
A hurricane is a noisy, scary event. Of course, many frogs die during such a storm. However, If you take a few precautions, you should be able to survive. The weeks and months following a hurricane can actually bring benefits to some coquís. The additional debris on the forest floor can result in a marked increase in the coquí population.
Following are five helpful hints you should observe if a hurricane strikes:
- Do not, we repeat, DO NOT remain in the branches of trees. You might want a good view of the action, but this is the best way to get killed. The wind or rain could send you flying off the branch. Or the branch itself could break. Either way you’re a dead frog.
- Do not visit with friends or take trips far from home. Heavy flooding or landslides could drastically change the neighborhood. You might never be able to find your way back.
- Find refuge in a hidey hole that is solid, such as under the root of a tree or a large rock. Hidey holes under leaves won’t do you much good during a hurricane. The leaves could easily get blown or washed away.
- Store up a modest supply of crickets and cockroaches, and ants if you have children. You will be amazed at the large number of insects in the forest following a hurricane. However, that abundance might not be available for several days.
- If possible, locate your refuge near a group of bromeliads. As you know, the leaves of bromeliads store water. A lack of water is going to be your biggest problem directly after the hurricane. Drought conditions often last for several days, or occasionally weeks, after a hurricane. Because of their smaller size, young coquís are especially vulnerable to a lack of water. They will die before the adults die, so if you have children, be sure to be close to a good source of water.
- With these helpful hints, you should be able to survive a hurricane. You might find the experience to be almost fun, a way for the family to bond for a few days. Good luck.
For weather updates, check our bulletins posted at the base of most tabonuco trees.