National Geographic : 1899 Jan
WEST INDIAN HURRICANE Available records show that, considered singly, the islands of the Lesser Antilles are comparatively free from hurricane visitations, and that the occurrence of destructive storms increases westward over the Greater Antilles to central and western Cuba, not for entire islands, but for corresponding areas. The cause of the varying frequency of hurricanes in different parts of the West Indies is found in a consideration of their average paths. Prac tically all the storms of the Lesser Antilles move westward in very narrow paths, and the proportion of storms that recurve northward is increased with increasing longitude until central and western Cuba is reached, where a fairly well-marked region of maximum frequency and recurve is found. Again, many of the storms that reach the Greater Antilles, and more especially Cuba, have their origin over the Caribbean Sea, and move thence northwestward toward Cuba or the Gulf of Mexico. As regards the relative likelihood of hurricanes for the several months of the stormy season, it is shown that the tracks of West Indian cyclones shift further to the northward and westward as the season advances, and that while August and September are more likely to produce hurricanes in the Lesser Antilles and the more eastern of the Greater Antilles, the chance for hurricanes in Cuba is greater in September and October. In referring to this general law, the late Rev. Benito Vines, S. J., remarked as follows: " This fact is of such ancient belief that the ecclesias tical authority from time immemorial wisely ordained that priests in Puerto Rico should recite in the mass the prayer 'Ad repellendat tempestes' during the months of August and Sep tember, but not in October, and that in Cuba it should be recited in September and October, but not in August, all of which proves that the ecclesiastical authority knew by experience that the cyclones of October are much more to be feared in Cuba, but not those of August, and that in Puerto Rico, on the contrary, the hurricanes of August are disastrous, while those of October are very rare." The limits of this article will not permit a discussion of theories regarding the origin of tropical storms or the laws and conditions which govern their movements. The regions in which they have their origin and the paths which they commonly follow have been referred to, and in conclusion it may be stated that all their movements, considered normally, are apparently influenced or governed by the trade winds and the position of the Atlantic anti-cyclonic area.