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General Discussion >> Hurricane History

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Notable Cyclones Last Post: Hurricane Gilbert (1988)
      #75007 - Sun May 27 2007 03:05 PM

Well this is my last post on Notable Cyclones:
Hurricane Gilbert (1988)

Hurricane Gilbert is the second most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin. It was the eighth tropical storm and third hurricane of the 1988 Atlantic hurricane season. Gilbert wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico for nearly 9 days. In total, it killed 318 people and caused $5 billion (1988 USD, $7-9 billion 2005 USD) in damages over the course of its path..

Figure 2: The track of Hurricane Gilbert.

With no inhibiting factors to strengthening, Gilbert quickly became a hurricane and then a major hurricane (category 3 or higher) on the 11th. It moved consistently west-northwest, influenced by a strong high pressure system to its north. This movement led to the hurricane's first landfall in Jamaica. The eye passed completely over Jamaica on September 12 with 117 knot (135 mph) winds, making it a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It was the first hurricane to make direct landfall in Jamaica since the 1951 season, when Hurricane Charlie passed over the island with winds around 86 knots (100 mph.)

Gilbert strengthened rapidly after emerging from the coast of Jamaica. The hurricane reached the lower end of category 5 while slamming into the Cayman Islands. A reporting station on Grand Cayman recorded a wind gust of 135 knots (156 mph) while passing just to the southeast. Extreme intensification continued until Gilbert reached a minimum pressure of 888 hPa, which was the lowest pressure ever recorded in the history of the western hemisphere and made Gilbert the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, until it was surpassed by Hurricane Wilma in the 2005 season. At its peak, Gilbert sustained winds of 160 knots (185 mph) (although Hurricanes Camille and Allen had higher wind speed, hurricane intensity is measured in terms of pressure).

Figure 2: Hurricane Gilbert at peak strength.
Image Credit: NOAA

Gilbert made landfall for a second time in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on September 14 as a Category 5 hurricane, making it the first Category 5 to make landfall in the Atlantic basin since Hurricane David hit Hispanola nine years earlier in 1979. Major hurricane status was held as the storm made landfall for a third time as a category 3 near La Pesca, Tamaulipas, on September 16. On September 17 Gilbert struck the inland city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. Gilbert spawned 29 tornadoes in Texas on September 18 and caused flooding in the midwest. Gilbert lost its strength when it merged with a frontal boundary in Texas on September 19.

Gilbert claimed 318 lives, mostly in Mexico. Exact monetary damage figures are not available, but the total for all areas affected by Gilbert is estimated to be near $5 billion (1988 USD).

American journalist Jules Siegel was living in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, (near CancĂșn) with his family. The hurricane hit Puerto Morelos dead-on, but the entire town population was evacuated to CancĂșn.

Due to its extreme intensity and path of destruction, the name Gilbert was retired in the spring of 1989, and will never be used for another Atlantic hurricane. It was replaced by Gordon in the 1994 Atlantic hurricane season.

This is my last post for this topic. If anyone has a request for a topic they would like my to do then please post it.

Dr. Joe Smith

Substitute Teacher at University of Central Florida


Edited by TS2 (Sun May 27 2007 05:36 PM)

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