PAHO/WHO, together with Applied Research Associates, developed in 2008 the new Caribbean Basin wind hazard maps, which use the most up-to-date meteorological records and methods and are intended to replace older maps currently in use for structural design and risk assessment. They are an important aid for engineers, developers, and others whose work requires knowledge of wind hazards.
More about how and why the Caribbean Wind Hazard Maps were created:
Read an article from October 2008 of the newsletter Disasters: Preparedness and Mitigation in the Americas: Wind Hazard Maps: Valuable Instruments for the Design and Construction of Safer Facilities.
Why were the new hazard maps prepared?
- The present project includes the Caribbean
coastlines of South and Central American countries. In several
of these cases there is no presently available wind hazard guidance
for structural design purposes. The new maps will plug that
only pan-Caribbean wind hazard maps ever produced for application
in the design of structures were in 1969 (Caribbean Meteorological
Institute – H C Shellard), 1981 (Caribbean Meteorological
Institute – B Rocheford), 1985 (University of Western
Ontario Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory – Davenport,
- Since 1985 the region has collected
another 23 years of relatively reliable data. The incorporation
of these data would serve to improve the quality of currently-available
wind hazard information.
- There have been developments in the
science and technology related to the long-term forecasting
of hurricane activity in the North Atlantic (including the Caribbean).
- The past 13 years of higher-than-normal
hurricane activity in the North Atlantic has led to the questioning
of wind design criteria incorporated in the present standards
in the Caribbean.
- This, in turn, has led to uninformed
and unreasonable and counterproductive decisions on appropriate
basic (and therefore design) wind speeds for some Caribbean
projects and in some Caribbean countries.
- The phenomenon of hurricane activity
in the Caribbean is best dealt with regionally and not in a
What use will be made of the results of the proposed project?
- New regional standards are currently
being prepared in a project funded by the Caribbean Development
Bank (CDB) and executed by the Caribbean Regional Organisation
for Standards and Quality (CROSQ). These will replace the Caribbean
Uniform Building Code (CUBiC). The CDB-CROSQ project does not
include new wind hazard maps for the target region. These new
Caribbean Basin maps have been prepared to be consistent with
the CDB-CROSQ intension to base the new standards project on
the USA “International” codes which reference the
wind load provisions of the American Society of Civil Engineers
(ASCE 7 Chapters 2 and 6). Thus the results of this wind hazard
mapping project could be plugged directly into the new CDB-CROSQ
- Those Caribbean countries which, for
whatever reason, are developing their own standards and not
participating in the CDB-CROSQ project will also require wind
hazard information. This wind hazard mapping project will provide
wind hazard information which could readily be represented in
forms designed to fit directly into standards documents with
different approaches. (Technical standards in the Caribbean
are best dealt with regionally and not in a country-by-country
manner. This comment relates particularly to the Commonwealth
in all Caribbean countries are designing projects every day
which must resist the wind. Confidence in the wind hazard information
is important to designers. Clients sometimes wish to specify
the levels of safety of their facilities. Insurance providers
sometimes wish to know the risks they underwrite. This depends
critically on the quality of hazard information. Financing institutions
sometimes wish to specify wind design criteria for their projects.
There is, in summary, an immediate and palpable need for wind
hazard information based on up-to-date meteorological records
and methodologies recognized by consensus in the scientific
The open process adopted in his project is exemplified by:
present Caribbean Basin Wind Hazard Maps (CBWHM) project has
prepared a series of overall, regional, wind-hazard maps using
uniform, state-of-the-art approaches covering all of the Caribbean
islands and the Caribbean coastal areas of South and Central
America. The project was executed in consultation with interest
groups throughout the target region.
- An interim, information meeting was
held at PAHO in Barbados on 01 October 2007. Meteorologists,
engineers, architects, emergency managers, standards personnel
and funding agency personnel from the wider Caribbean were invited
(and were funded) to attend.
- At that meeting the principal researcher,
Dr Peter Vickery of Applied Research Associates (ARA) described
the methodology for developing the maps; presented the interim
results available at the time of the meeting; received comments
from participants and answered their questions; discussed what
systems need to be put in place to improve knowledge of the
wind hazard in the Caribbean region and outlined the further
work to finalise the present mapping exercise.
The Pan American Health Organization would
like to thank the following agencies and individuals responsible for the
preparation of the new maps: Peter Vickery, principal researcher, Applied
Research Associates; Tony Gibbs, regional coordinator, CEP International
Ltd; and the United States Agency for International Development, funding
Questions about the Wind Hazard Map project
should be directed to Dr. Dana van Alphen at