The history of hurricanes in Puerto Rico starts with the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the island in November 19th, 1493. Even though the island was "discovered" that year, the first Spanish settlement in Puerto Rico was established years later by Juan Ponce de León. This is the reason for having the first official records of tropical cyclones passing through Puerto Rico in the first decade of the 1500s. From that time on we have records of tropical cyclones in Puerto Rico until the present times.
The naming system of storms here was based on the catholic tradition of naming the storm with the "saint" of the day (e.g. San Ciprián on September 26th). There was also the case that storms repeated in the same day on different years such as with San Felipe I and San Felipe II on September 13th, 1876 and 1928 respectively. This tradition of naming storms that way ended with hurricane Betsy on 1956 which is still remembered here as “Santa Clara”. Years later with the passage of hurricane Donna in 1960, the storm was recognized as “San Lorenzo”.
1508, August 16th; Tropical Storm “San Roque”
First tropical cyclone in record in Puerto Rico. It was reported by Juan Ponce de León when his ship was brought to the shore by the high winds and waves in the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. The southwest area was the most affected.
1514, July; Unnamed Tropical Storm
There are strong doubts if this storm was in 1513, 1514 or 1515. Historians in recent times have been leaning more towards 1514 as the date. A lot of Indians died due to the plagues and lack of food. In the “West Indies Documents” there are the reports of the treasurer of Puerto Rico reporting the damage by the storm in Puerto Rico to the Crown in Spain.
1526, October 4th-5th; Hurricane “San Francisco"
Reported as a violent hurricane that moved slowly over the north of Puerto Rico and affected the Dominican Republic on October 5th. This hurricane caused extensive damage and widespread flooding.
1530, July 26th; Hurricane “Santa Ana”
First of 3 tropical cyclones that affected Puerto Rico that year. Some historians talk of 5 tropical cyclones that year, but 2 of them are doubtful. Affected the entire island and destroyed half of the houses in San Juan, some historians estimate the storm passed in July 28th. Puerto Rico had a population of 3,100 inhabitants based on that year’s census.
1530, August 22nd; Tropical Storm “San Hipólito”
Affected the entire island with extensive flooding and a lot of crop damage.
1530, August 31st; Hurricane “San Ramón”
Violent hurricane that caused more extensive flooding and crop damage. There was so much suffering that many of the residents considered leaving the island.
1537, July or August; Unnamed Tropical Storm
Some historians talk of 3 tropical cyclones that year, but because of the lack of evidence only one can be attributed. The storm caused extensive damage to agriculture and widespread flooding. Many deaths were attributed to the storm, specially of slaves.
1545, September 7th; Unnamed Hurricane
This hurricane was reported by ocular witness in the Dominican Republic and it is presumed that it affected Puerto Rico. Apparently it was a large slow-moving storm that caused a lot of rain but was not very intense in terms of winds.
1568, August 24th-25th; Hurricane “San Bartolomé”
Based on historian Alejandro Tapia, this was the first tropical cyclone designated with the saint of the day. The earlier tropical cyclones were designated by historians years later after their passages. This was a severe hurricane that caused widespread damage in San Juan and in Santo Domingo on August 25th.
1575, September 12th; Tropical Storm “San Mateo”
Last tropical cyclone in Puerto Rico in the 16th Century and the first of 5 to occur in the Saint Mathew’s Day (Día de San Mateo). There are no details about its effects and trajectory.
This century has almost no cyclones reported but there is the assumption that some were not reported due to the lack of communication and the big crisis of abandon and lack of communication with the other Spanish colonies and Spain that the island suffered during this century. This crisis left the island basically drifting in a social and economical stall. This effects were felt directly in the records of hurricanes in that time because little or no information was almost every time found due to the lack of reports of every kind in that period.
1615, September 12th; Hurricane “San Leoncio”
Severe hurricane that caused extensive damage to the San Juan Cathedral, to the agriculture and the sugar crops. There were several deaths and in the San Juan harbor some ships with cargo sank. Due to the lack of food, much of the food had to be imported from the neighboring islands. This was the first tropical cyclone to hit the island since “San Mateo” 40 years earlier.
1626, September 15th; Tropical Storm “San Nicomedes”
Apparently the storm passed trough the northern coast of the island. Caused near 30 deaths and in the San Juan Bay 30 ships were sunken.
1642, September; Unnamed Hurricane
Based on reports it was a severe hurricane of big size and strength. They day of passage is unknown and because of that the storm has no name. Destroyed houses and affected the agriculture. Years earlier the cacao was started to being cultivated and it was badly affected.
1657, August; Unnamed Hurricane
Unknown day of passage. Caused big damage to the agriculture which caused lack of food. It ended destroying the cacao crops which were abandoned because no one took care of them later. Some historians say that from 1657 until the end of the century there were other cyclones in Puerto Rico but the evidence is not very clear.
The 18th Century is much more active in terms of tropical cyclones in Puerto Rico because the reports are more complete and frequent.
1713, September 6th; Hurricane “San Zacarias”
Since the last cyclone there have been already 56 years until this hurricane hit Puerto Rico. Caused a big storm surge in the south coast and it is estimated that a lot of damage was cause to the south side of the island.
1713, October 3rd; Tropical Storm “San Cándido”
Occurred 4 weeks after the last storm. Passed close to the south of the island and affected the Dominican Republic. Caused a lot of storm surge damage in the south coast.
1718, September 7th; Tropical Storm “Santa Regina”
Passed over or near the northeast side of the island. Caused some damage in San Juan, the most important was the “Nuns Convent” in San Juan that lost its roof.
1730, August 30th; Tropical Storm “Santa Rosa”
Not much information on this one, only that it passed to the south of the island and caused damage to plantations and houses.
1738, August 30th; Hurricane “Santa Rosa”
Exactly eight years after the last storm occurred a tropical cyclone with the same name but with hurricane strength at this time. Caused extensive damage to houses and agriculture and San Juan was badly affected. It is estimated that it entered in the eastern side of the island, crossing it and later affecting the Dominican Republic.
1738, September 12th; Hurricane “San Leoncio”
The route of this storm was interesting as it entered the Caribbean Sea by Guadeloupe then moving west-northwest close to St. Thomas and changing west over the south side of Puerto Rico then to the south of Hispaniola on September 13th. Caused a lot of flooding in the south side of the island affecting agriculture, San Juan did not report much damage.
1740, August 3rd; Hurricane “San Esteban”
This hurricane passed close to the south of the island then later affecting the northeast of the Dominican Republic. The city of Ponce reported the most damage.
1740, September 11th-12th; Hurricane “San Vicente”
Second hurricane of that year in Puerto Rico. Affected San Juan and the northern side of the island, apparently it was not a strong hurricane.
1742, October 28th; Hurricane “San Judas Tadeo”
Passed at some distance north of the island after affecting St. Thomas and turning more west-northwest. Strong south winds caused high seas in the south coast of Puerto Rico causing damage to some English ships. This resulted in the occupation by some of the locals of one of the ships that was brought onshore by the storm.
1751, August 18th; Tropical Storm "San Agapito"
The storm affected the entire island and it is possible that the route was across the island from south to north. An earthquake was reported during the passage of the storm.
1766, September 19th; Hurricane "San Genaro"
Severe hurricane that affected the east half of the island. Caused damage to rice, corn, bananas, coconuts and other crops. The trajectory of this storm is very doubtful as it passed over Monserrat in September 13th possibly turning after that passing over northeast Puerto Rico 6 days later, which is too much time.
1766, October 7th-8th; Hurricane "San Marcos"
Passed over Guadeloupe were a storm surge combined with a river overflow created a big flooding. Crossed Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest causing the worst damage in the east side even though it affected the entire island.
1767, August 7th; Hurricane "San Cayetano"
Passed somewhat retired from the south of the island. Caused big flooding and damage to crops. In the island of Martinique 1,600 people were drowned.
1772, August 28th-29th; Hurricane "San Agustín"
It was a strong hurricane that passed trough the Leeward Islands, then St. Thomas, crossing Puerto Rico from Fajardo to Mayaguez and affecting Hispaniola. Damage in Puerto Rico was severe.
1772, August 31st; Hurricane "San Ramón"
Second hurricane of the year, passed only three days after the last hurricane. Affected the island of Barbados then moving northwest towards the Leeward Islands and St. Thomas passing over the northeast side of Puerto Rico with lesser damage than the earlier storm.
1775, August 1st; Tropical Storm "San Pedro"
"Saint Peter" passed close to the southwest corner of the island then over the Dominican Republic. Its effects are unknown.
1780, June 13th; Tropical Storm "San Antonio"
Only cyclone on record in the month of June in Puerto Rico. Passed close or just south of Puerto Rico then over the Dominican Republic. Damaged an English ship in the south coast. Affected crops and properties in Puerto Rico causing a lot of damage in the Dominican Republic.
1780, October 14th; Hurricane "San Calixto"
Known as the "Great Antilles Hurricane" is one of the most infamous and damaging of all times. The hurricane dismantled Barbados with winds estimated in close to 200mph destroying trees completely until flying. In St. Lucia it caused 6,000 deaths and in Martinique it caused 9,000 deaths in part due to the storm surge. The center of the hurricane passed close to the southwest tip of Puerto Rico then over the east side of the Dominican Republic turning towards Bermuda were it sank 50 ships. Damage in Puerto Rico was not very important but this storm was included in the list due to the importance of the damage it caused. Affected severely St. Vincent and Grenada.
1785, September 25th; Tropical Storm "San Lupo"
Passed over Puerto Rico causing severe damage, mainly in the rural areas. For the first time a governor (Juan Dabán) visited the island to offer relief and inspect the damage.
1788, August 16th; Hurricane "San Roque"
Hurricane that passed south of the island but due to its large size affected it entirely. This was the last tropical cyclone of the 18th Century in Puerto Rico and by this time the island had 35 localities and population of 100,000 people.
1804, September 4th; Hurricane "Santa Rosalía"
First hurricane to affect Puerto Rico in the 19th Century. It passed north of the island without much important damage. Later the storm affected very hard the city of Charleston, South Carolina.
1806, September 11th, Hurricane "San Vicente"
Affected severely Dominica causing 131 deaths. Passed south of Puerto Rico causing a lot of damage in Ponce.
1807, August 17-19; Hurricane "San Jacinto"
A very slow-moving storm that affected the island for 50 hours. Flooded all the rivers and destroyed much of the crops. Loss of life was big. The storm moved over the Leeward Islands then over the Virtin islands, then crossing Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest before passing over the Dominican Republic.
1813, July 23rd; Tropical Storm "San Liborio"
Caused a lot of damage in the southwest part of the island, specially to the coffee crops.
1813, August 21st; Tropical Storm "Santa Juana"
Affected Dominica before passing close to the south of Puerto Rico, then the storm affected South Carolina. Damage to agriculture.
1814, July 23rd; Tropical Storm "San Liborio"
One year after, the same day another tropical cyclone passed close to Puerto Rico. Again the storm affected hard the south side and it was felt in San Juan. At the time the storm passed there was a 7 month drought but the passage was not very helpful because it destroyed the crops.
1816, September 18-20; Hurricane "San José de Cupertino"
Passed over Martinique and then close or over the south coast of Puerto Rico. Damage to crops.
1818, September 22nd, Tropical Storm "San Mauricio"
Cause minor damage to the island. The passage of this storm is unclear, it is reported that it was felt in the south side of the island, specially in Guayama.
1819, September 21st-22nd, Hurricane "San Mateo"
It was a severe hurricane. Moved over the Virgin Islands causing 101 deaths then over Puerto Rico the night of September 21st. The storm sank a lot of ships in San Juan and it is estimated that this storm destroyed most of the houses and crops in Puerto Rico.
1824, September 9-10; Hurricane "San Pedro"
Passed very near the south coast affecting mainly the area from Juana Díaz to Cabo Rojo.
1825, July 26-27; Hurricane "Santa Ana"
Santa Ana is one of the strongest hurricanes in record in Puerto Rico. Caused 374 deaths and 1,200 injured. Made landfall in Puerto Rico at 11pm in the area of Humacao and Yabucoa leaving the island by Arecibo and Vega Baja at 8:30am. Affected mainly the east, north and center of the island, the southwest was not much affected. This is the second storm to cause more deaths in Puerto Rico's history only after "San Ciriaco" in 1899. In San Juan the storm decimated the poor suburbs leaving the city without communication to the rest of the island. Apparently the storm was small in size, if it were larger the storm would have destroyed the entire island. Guadeloupe measured a pressure of 27.10 inches of mercury or 918 millibars. The storm's intensity in Puerto Rico is estimated to be around category 4 force with winds of around 150mph.
1827, August 17th; Tropical Storm "San Jacinto"
Crossed the island from southeast to north affecting the agriculture. In the harbors around the island some ships were sunk.
1835, August 13th; Hurricane "San Hipólito"
Crossed the island from southeast to north lasting around 6 to 7 hours over land affecting mainly the east and north of the island. This storm passed north of Hispaniola, over Cuba and affected Galveston, Texas.
1837, August 2nd-3rd; Hurricane "Nuestra Señora de los Angeles"
It was a severe hurricane that crossed the island from southeast to north in a period of 10 to 12 hours. The first storm to have a barometric reading in Puerto Rico were San Juan got a minimal pressure of 28.00 inches of mercury or 948 millibars. In San Juan the storm killed 11 people and sank some ships.
1851, August 18th; Hurricane "San Agapito"
Passed very close to the southwest side of the island but the effects took all of Puerto Rico. The storm was estimated to have winds of around 100 mph sustained when the closest point of approach 1. Big damage to agriculture. The storm entered Florida by the city of Apalachicola on August 22nd.
1852, September 5th; Hurricane "San Lorenzo"
The storm made landfall in southwest Puerto Rico with winds estimated in the area of 70 mph to 80 mph 1. Affected the southwest side of Puerto Rico causing big flooding and damage to Guayanilla and Mayaguez.
1867, October 29th; Hurricane "San Narciso"
One of the strong hurricanes of Puerto Rico's history affected the entire island. Caused 211 deaths because of the flooding. The storm passed directly over St. Thomas the afternoon of October 29th with estimated sustained winds of 120 mph and a reported pressure of 952 millibars 1 causing 600 deaths by drowning and in the bay 50 ships sunk. The storm made landfall in Puerto Rico at around 5-6 pm somewhat weaker than when it hit St. Thomas passing over Caguas and leaving the island in the west. The rare thing with this storm is that with such insignificant pressure readings (29.60 in/hg or 1002 mb in San Juan and 29.40 in/hg or 995 mb in Arroyo) the storm caused so much damage. The first tropical cyclone were the wind speed is known.
1871, August 21st; Hurricane "Santa Juana"
This is the first tropical cyclone in which Puerto Rico got the warning of the storm coming because the telegraph and the ultramarine cable was already working in the Caribbean. The storm passed over the Virgin Islands and a message was sent to San Juan. The eye of the hurricane moved over the Virgin Island and around 20 miles northeast of Puerto Rico with estimated sustained winds of 120 mph 1.St. Thomas got a pressure of 28.40 in/hg or 962 millibars and 27 deaths. The storm passed just north of San Juan with a pressure measured of 29.53 in/hg or 1000 millibars. Damage in Puerto Rico was minimal.
1876, September 13th, Hurricane "San Felipe I"
One of the worst hurricanes in the 19th century affected the island by 10 hours crossing it from east to west. The storm made landfall with estimated sustained winds of 100 mph weakening and with a pressure report from Mayaguez of 991 millibars 1. San Juan got winds of 60mph and a pressure of 29.20 in/hg or 988 millibars and a rain total of 4.71 inches. This is the first storm were rain was measured in Puerto Rico. A total of 19 deaths was associated to the storm, by this time the first daily weather observations were done in Puerto Rico.
1878, November 28th; Tropical Storm "San Rufo"
First tropical cyclone to affect Puerto Rico in the month of November. The storm passed just over the south coast of Puerto Rico in a just south of due west direction with estimated sustained winds of 70 mph 1. The storm was felt in the east and south of the island with San Juan reporting winds of 20mph and a pressure of 29.64 in/hg (1004mb). Little damage reported.
1888, September 1st-2nd; Hurricane "San Gil"
Passed some 100 to 150 nm north of Puerto Rico estimated as a category 1 hurricane 1. The effects in the island were the heavy rains which caused over 100 deaths due to river flooding. This hurricane is similar to Donna in 1960 which had the same tragic effect in Puerto Rico without passing over the island.
1889, September 3rd-4th; Hurricane "San Martín"
Passed near St. Thomas with estimated sustained winds of 105 mph at a distance of around 40 nm from the northeast tip of Puerto Rico and at around 90 nm northeast of San Juan 1. Damage to banana crops only. Winds of 48 mph were measured and a pressure of 29.43 in/hg (996mb) in San Juan and 29.30 in/hg (992mb) in Humacao.
1891, August 19th-20th; Hurricane "San Magín"
The eye of the hurricane passed close to the southwest tip of Puerto Rico in a west-northwest direction with estimated sustained winds of 100-105 mph 1. Big flooding was reported in the island with the city of Carolina 6 to 8 feet under water. This was one of the deadliest hurricanes in the Antilles were it killed more than 700 people in Martinique.
1893, August 16th-17th; Hurricane "San Roque"
Entered the island by Patillas at 7-8 pm and left Puerto Rico by 3am in Isabela. The storm was estimated to have sustained winds of 115 mph at time of landfall 1. San Juan got 29.17 in/hg (987mb) pressure and winds of 55 mph with rains of 2.36 inches. This is the first storm were flags were used to warn people of a storm coming, this was done in the goverment offices. The hurricane affected hard the railroads.
1896, August 31st-September 1st; Hurricane "San Ramón"
Last hurricane in Puerto Rico under the Spanish control. Crossed the southwest area of the island making landfall in the vicinity of Ponce with estimated sustained winds of 100 mph.
1899, August 8th; Hurricane "San Ciriaco"
This hurricane has some records that are hard or impossible to break:
1) The last hurricane of the 19th Century.
2) First hurricane with Puerto Rico under the control of USA.
3) The natural disaster that has killed most people in Puerto Rico's history; 3,369 deaths.
4) The storm that has caused more rain in 24 hours with a total of 23.00 inches in Adjuntas.
5) First tropical cyclone with a rain map in Puerto Rico and the first under the National Weather Service (NWS) in Puerto Rico.
San Ciriaco formed near the Cape Verde Islands and crossed the Atlantic towards the Antilles, then moved towards the United States turning east over the North Atlantic towards Europe. The hurricane made landfall in southeast Puerto Rico at around 8am with estimated sustained winds of 140-145 mph and a pressure of 27.75 in/hg or 939 millibars leaving the island around 2pm in the vicinity of Aguadilla 1. The storm's hurricane wind radii was of 80-85 nm and the rain area was of around 385 nm. Pressure in San Juan was of 29.17 in/hg (987mb) and rain totals of 6.37 inches. In Mayaguez the winds picked up to 112mph and a pressure of 28.86 in/hg (977mb). In 48 hours an average of 10.1 inches of rain was estimated for the entire island. That is the normal rain rate of 2 summer months in Puerto Rico. During the hurricane a total of 890 people died and 1,294 were drowned. Some injured died later and the total was elevated to 3,369 deaths. Damage estimates to property were a total of $35,889,013 3.
In the article "La marejada ciclónica de San Ciriaco" or "The Storm Surge of San Ciriaco" 2 it is mentioned the deadly storm surge that entered in the area of Humacao near one mile inland in some places with the winds coming from the east (onshore) in the northern eyewall of the storm. Storm surge estimates are of at least 15 feet in the area which has places like Punta Santiago which are several feet below sea level and were entire families were lost in the storm and were never found after. San Ciriaco was the deadliest storms in Puerto Rico and is also on record as one of the strongest to hit the island and still more than a century after its passage is a storm that deserves to be studied in every aspect.
1981, September 8th; Tropical Storm Gert:
The center of this fast moving tropical storm moved through Puerto Rico from the southeast to the north-central coast of the island in a period of less than three hours. The storm's intensity was of sustained 60 mph at time of landfall. In San Juan the wind report was of 40 mph with a pressure of 29.66 in/hg or 1004 millibars. Rainfall amounts of 2-3 inches were reported. The strongest winds in Puerto Rico were reported at Fajardo with sustained 50 mph and a gust to 60 mph. Damage was minimal.
1984, November 7th; Tropical Storm Klaus:
Second storm in Puerto Rico's history in the month of November and is often remembered by the fact that it hit the island in the election's day of 1984. The system developed south of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea in November 5th, moving northeastward and strengthening to tropical storm intensity the center of the storm passed just east extreme Eastern Puerto Rico during the night of the 7th. The storm's intensity was of around 50 to 60 mph but the area of strongest winds remained offshore Puerto Rico and over the US Virgin Islands. After affecting the area the storm intensified to hurricane status in the 8th while moving over the Atlantic Ocean and thereafter losing tropical characteristics in the 13th. Damage in Puerto Rico was relatively minor with highest winds reported in Roosevelt Roads with gusts to 37 mph. Rainfall amounts peaked at 3 inches. Trees down and power lines affected were the biggest results, other than disrupting somewhat the election process.
1989, September 18th; Hurricane Hugo:
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1995, September 5th-6th; Hurricane Luis:
Hurricane Luis was a powerful category 4 hurricane that originated in the far Eastern Atlantic Ocean and blasted the Northern Leeward Islands with winds of up to 135 mph bringing tropical storm conditions to Puerto Rico.
Luis formed from an organized tropical wave that emerged off the west coast of Africa and moved into the Atlantic Ocean, the first warning was issued by the National Hurricane Center the morning of August 27th. The system steadily intensified as it moved westward over the open Atlantic during the next several days and became a hurricane during the day of August 30th. A very strong mid-level to surface ridge maintained Luis moving westward despite the relatively high latitude that the storm had moving it towards the Northeast Caribbean. Luis continued to intensify and reached its peak of intensity of sustained 140 mph (120 kts) winds which maintained for nearly three days with slight fluctuations until reaching the island or Barbuda the morning of September 5th with estimated sustained winds of 135 mph (115 kts). Luis was a large storm with an eye of an average 30 to 40 nm wide and an eyewall of nearly the same width. By this time the ridge to the north of the storm had weakened and Luis was turning northwestward while the eyewall affected directly Antigua, St. Barthelemy, St. Martin and Anguilla. Also hurricane conditions were experienced in St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Eustatius, Guadeloupe and the British Virgin Islands. Hurricane Luis passed around 110 nm northeast of Puerto Rico the morning of September 6th, still the outer bands of the large storm affected the area causing tropical storm conditions through most of the islands, also the US Virgin Islands experienced tropical storm force winds.
The biggest effect of hurricane Luis in Puerto Rico was the chaos that put in test the capability of the government and the people for preparing for a major hurricane. Luis was the first big threat of a major storm in Puerto Rico since hurricane Hugo in 1989 and was a preamble for what the island experienced three years later with hurricane Georges. Otherwise, heavy surf caused erosion in the north coast and some trees down and moderate river flooding where the results of the passage of the storm through the region. In the Northern Leeward Islands the story was a lot different with 16 people killed and 2.5 billion dollars in damage making Luis the worst storm to hit the Northeast Caribbean since Hugo in 1989 and David in 1979.
1995, September 15th-16th; Hurricane Marilyn:
The extremely active 1995 Hurricane Season proved to be very hazardous for the Northeast Caribbean. Just two weeks after category 4 hurricane Luis, another hurricane was threatening the region. Marilyn developed from a tropical wave midway between Barbados and the Cape Verde Islands becoming TD #15 the afternoon of September 12th. The depression moved straight towards the Caribbean as it was intensifying and became tropical storm Marilyn six hours after the first advisory was issued. Barely four hours after that, Marilyn became a hurricane. Marilyn started turning and passed around 45 nm north of Barbados, just north of Martinique, over Dominica and just southwest of Guadeloupe as a category one hurricane during September 14th.
After that, Marilyn continued to strengthen moving northwest and passed over St. Croix the afternoon of the 15th, then between St. Thomas and Culebra, Puerto Rico that night. Marilyn was a small and intensifying hurricane and the intensity was estimated to be of sustained 110 mph winds when CPA happened to both islands. The east and northeast eyewall of the storm passed over St. Thomas bringing disastrous results and the west and northwest eyewall hit Culebra causing heavy damage there. Marilyn remained offshore from Puerto Rico causing tropical storm conditions for the east half and hurricane conditions in the island of Vieques. Culebra, as mentioned above, experienced the eyewall of the storm. St. Thomas reported a sustained two-minute wind of 105 mph with peak gust to 129 mph, the minimal pressure reported was of 956 millibars while sustained 70 mph winds were still reported, pressure in the center of the eye was estimated to be around 952 millibars. An unofficial gust of 125 mph was reported in Culebra, Puerto Rico, in the main island the highest wind report was of sustained 41 mph with a gust of 60 mph in Roosevelt Roads, a pressure of 996.5 millibars was measured. San Juan Intl. Airport (TJSJ) reported a peak gust of 45 mph in the early morning of the 16th.
The damage in the main island of Puerto Rico was minimal again but Vieques and Culebra did not escape the core of the hurricane. Damage in Vieques was moderate with some houses that lost their roofs, power lines down and lots of tree damage. Culebra had much severe damage as the eyewall blasted through there with many of the homes affected there, trees and power and water services severely damage and with damage estimates comparatively close to those of hurricane Hugo there in 1989. Marilyn was the worst hurricane to affect Puertorican land since hurricane Hugo in 1989.
1996, July 8th; Hurricane Bertha:
Hurricane Bertha was an unusually early call for the people in Puerto Rico and the rest of the region as it passed just northeast of the island during the afternoon of July 8th. Bertha developed from a tropical wave that emerged off the west coast of Africa and the first advisory on TD #2 was issued the night of the 4th. Bertha was named during the 5th as it moved generally west-northwestward towards the Caribbean. Bertha became a hurricane just before quickly passing through the Northern Leeward Islands and the Virgin Islands during the 8th emerging just north of Puerto Rico late in that day. The intensity of the storm was 80 to 90 mph sustained and the pressure dropping steadily in the 980s millibars. Bertha passed only 30 nm northeast of Puerto Rico but tropical storm conditions were felt in the island, hurricane conditions might have been possible in Culebra which was near the southern eyewall of the storm along with St. Thomas. The highest wind report in Puerto Rico was of 47 mph with a gust to 62 mph in San Juan and a pressure of 992 millibars was measured in Roosevelt Roads. Damage in the island was relatively minimal with trees down, power outages and river flooding. Three deaths were reported, two died in an automobile accident during the storm and one surfer was drowned. After affecting the area Bertha moved just north of the Bahamas as a category 2-3 hurricane and made landfall east of Wilmington, NC as a category two hurricane the afternoon of the 12th.
1996, September 9th-10th; Hurricane Hortense:
Hortense was a category one hurricane that caused devastating flooding in Puerto Rico while slowly moving resulting in 18 deaths and nearly 12,000 damage homes, mainly due to flooding. Hortense developed from a tropical wave east of the Lesser Antilles moving westward, first advisory was issued the morning of September 3rd. While moving westward the depression became tropical storm Hortense just before passing near Guadeloupe during the early morning of the 7th. Sustained winds of 53 mph with a gust of 80 mph were reported there. For the next two days the storm encountered strong upper-level winds than inhibited any strengthening. Hortense was moving westward but the steering flow became very erratic and the storm stalled around 100 nm southeast of Puerto Rico, then the storm started to move again but towards the northwest directly towards the southwest coast of the island while strengthening to hurricane intensity the afternoon of the 9th.
Hortense made landfall near Guánica, Puerto Rico at around 2 am AST of September 10th with sustained winds of 80 mph crossing the southwest part of the island for two hours and emerging in the Mona Passage in the vicinity of Cabo Rojo. This area experience sustained hurricane conditions along with the high elevations of the Central Mountain Range, the rest of the island experienced tropical storm conditions with hurricane conditions in gusts in many areas and extremely heavy rainfall. The highest wind report in Puerto Rico was an unofficial gust of 110 mph in Guánica but this report is not considered as reliable, otherwise the highest wind report was of 49 mph with a gust of 64 mph in San Juan (TJSJ) Intl. Airport. A gust of 75 mph was reported in Cupey in the south of San Juan. But the main effect from this storm was the heavy rainfall, averages of 15 to 20 inches of rain were reported across the interior of the island with the highest rainfall amount in San Lorenzo (Eastern Interior) with 24.6 inches of rain storm total. Hortense became the worst hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since hurricane Hugo in 1989 and the devastating flooding caused 18 casualties, 3 people missing and nearly 12,000 homes affected. The road system was also hard hit with many bridges left unusable and mudslides covering many roads in the mountainous areas. The main devastation with flooding was experienced in Guayama were the Guamaní River killed several people. Much of the island was declared disaster area and recuperation from the storm took several months for parts of the island.
After causing devastation in Puerto Rico, Hortense passed near Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with winds of 90 mph affecting also the Turks and Caicos Islands with hurricane force winds, later the storm became a powerful category 4 (140 mph) hurricane in the Atlantic while recurving to the north and making landfall in Nova Scotia were sustained hurricane force winds of 76 mph were reported in St. Paul Island.
1998, September 21st-22nd; Hurricane Georges:
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1999, October 21st; Tropical Storm José:
Hurricane José developed from the coast of Africa and the first advisory by NHC was issued the afternoon of October 17th as it was moving west towards the Lesser Antilles. The system was classified as a tropical storm the 18th when it was 400 nm east of the islands. As the storm was approaching, a more northwesterly track was assumed by the storm as a weakness in the high was northwest of the cyclone. José became a hurricane late in the 19th while centered about 150 nm east of the Lesser Antilles, the storm kept intensifying and peaked at an intensity of 85 kts (100 mph) sustained winds while approaching the island of Antigua the morning of the 20th. The hurricane then started moving in a more west-northwesterly track and moved over Antigua at midday of the 20th with sustained winds of 80 kts (90 mph), as this happened, strong southwest upper-level winds started to affect the cyclone and made it weaken to tropical storm intensity, the eye of the weakening hurricane passed near St. Barthelemy and St. Martin late in the 20th and over Tortola in the British Virgin Islands early in the 21st, by this time the cyclone had weakened to tropical storm intensity estimated to be near 60 kts (70 mph).
Tropical Storm José then passed just north of the US Virgin Islands and around 20 nm north of Culebra, Puerto Rico early in the afternoon of the 21st and later that afternoon around 45 nm northeast of Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Tropical storm force winds were measured unofficially in Luquillo early in the 21st with around 40-45 mph sustained with a peak gust of 55 mph. This was the only report of tropical storm intensity winds in the island, the higher elevations high have gotten tropical storm force winds also. Damage in Puerto Rico was light with river flooding and some wind damage in Culebra were power was also lost during a short period. After affecting the area, José regained hurricane intensity while recurving out in the open Atlantic and losing tropical characteristics.
1999, November 17th; Hurricane Lenny:
Hurricane Lenny was a historic storm for many reasons, specially due to its unusual path from west to east across the Caribbean, so late in the season and the high intensity (155 mph) that the storm attained during its trek across the Northeast Caribbean.
Lenny developed from a low pressure area (LPA) in the Western Caribbean and this system organized enough to be classified as a tropical depression during the afternoon of the 13th around 150 nm south of Grand Cayman Island. The morning of the 14th Lenny was named as a tropical storm while moving generally to the east during the next few days. On the 15th Lenny became a hurricane while south of Jamaica and weakened briefly while passing to the south of Haiti, then the storm continued to intensify as it was forecasted to directly hit Puerto Rico. Lenny was moving generally to the east-northeast and it began to rapidly intensify when south of Puerto Rico as it passed around 75 nm southeast of the island the morning of the 17th as a category 4 hurricane. Lenny then passed around 15 nm south of St. Croix bringing the northern eyewall over the island. By this time the storm was at its peak intensity of 135 kts (155 mph) sustained winds and a pressure of 933 millibars but this winds were confined to the southeast eyewall which did not affect St. Croix. As the storm moved away from St. Croix it encountered very weak steering currents and moved slowly while approaching the St. Martin-Anguilla area. Despite favorable upper-level winds Lenny weakened as it moved over St. Martin during the 18th with estimated sustained winds of 110 kts (125 mph) and weakened further as it was nearly stationary in the area becoming a tropical storm just south of St. Barthelemy and moving east-southeast passing over Antigua late in the 19th with winds estimated to be down to 55 kts (65 mph). Lenny then continued to move away and dissipated during the day of the 23rd around 600 nm east of the Leeward Islands.
Damage in Puerto Rico was again very minimal with some mud slides, trees down and heavy surf in the southeast coast which brought erosion. Vieques possibly got hurricane conditions and wind damage was more noticeable there. The highest wind report in Puerto Rico was a gust of 48 mph in Roosevelt Roads, nearly 6 inches of rain were reported throughout the event.
2000, August 22nd; Hurricane Debby:
Debby developed from a strong tropical wave that emerged off the coast of Africa and was classified as a tropical depression the afternoon of August 19th, Debby was named later in the 20th and despite vertical shear the storm continued to intensify becoming a hurricane with a peak intensity of 75 kts (85 mph) early in the 21st. The strong upper-level winds made the storm weaken slowly but steadily as it moved over the Northern Leeward Islands, the British Virgin Islands and 30 nm northeast of Puerto Rico during the 22nd. By this time Debby's intensity was estimated to be sustained 65 kts (75 mph). Debby continued to move just north of Puerto Rico and weakening while moving just north of Hispaniola as a tropical storm and finally dissipating in the Windward Passage in the 24th due to strong vertical wind shear. Even though the storm moved very close to Puerto Rico, the weak quadrant of the storm was the one that affected the island and no reports of tropical storm force winds were measured, the main effect of Debby in the area was very heavy rainfall that caused flooding in the entire country, specially in the area of Ponce and the northern coastal valleys, this heavy rainfall came after the storm moved away from the area when the main feeder band brought up to 12.63 inches of rain measured at Rio Piedras. An indirect death was also reported when a man fell of the roof of his house trying to remove and antenna.
2004, September 15th; Tropical Storm Jeanne:
Tropical Storm Jeanne developed from a rather weak tropical wave that crossed the Atlantic Ocean and organized quite rapidly just east of the Leeward Islands. The first advisory was issued by the National Hurricane Center during the day of the 13th and a tropical storm had formed in the 14th as the system was slowly moving over the Leeward Islands. Jeanne found favorable upper-level winds and continued to strengthen becoming nearly a hurricane when landfall occurred at around midday AST in the 15th near Maunabo, Puerto Rico with an official intensity estimate of 60 kts (70 mph) sustained winds. For the next 6 to 8 hours the center of the storm crossed Puerto Rico exiting the island near Arecibo but finally emerging out in the ocean near Aguadilla in the night of the 15th. Jeanne was the worst tropical cyclone to hit Puerto Rico since hurricane Georges in 1998. Wind damage specially in the eastern side of the island was moderate with many trees down, power lines and poles, signs blown out and some roofs of houses and businesses that were damaged. Flooding was also experienced throughout the island and storm surge flooding was reported in Humacao and Yabucoa. The entire island at one point was left without power but this was mainly due to a mistake made by operators of the electric system, even with that, the areas affected worst by the wind were nearly one week without power as it was the case in places like southern Caguas. The highest wind report was an unofficial report of 63 mph sustained winds in Salinas with a peak gust of 71 mph. San Juan reported sustained winds of 49 mph with a peak gust of 71 mph. Hurricane conditions may have been experienced in the area north of the center of the storm, specially from Yabucoa northward to Naguabo and the high elevations. The highest rainfall amount reported was in Vieques with 23.75 inches of rain storm total.
This storm proved to be a hazard to the government and people due to its rapid intensification just prior to affecting the area with preparations completed the same morning that the cyclone hit the island.
After hitting Puerto Rico, Jeanne officially became a hurricane and made landfall near Punta Cana, Dominican Republic with winds of 70 kts (80 mph), then the hurricane weakened over land causing catastrophic flooding specially in Haiti were over 2,900 people died specially in the area of Gonaives. Then Jeanne emerged as a tropical depression and moved northward over the Atlantic and was influenced again by a strong mid-surface ridge that made it turn in a loop back towards the west as it deepened back to hurricane intensity making landfall in Abaco Island, Bahamas early in the 25th with winds of 100 kts (115 mph) and late in that day and early in the 26th over Stuart, Florida with winds of 105 kts (120 mph). Damage in both the Bahamas and Florida was widespread mainly due to the fact that hurricane Frances hit the same area just two weeks earlier.
Hurricane Hugo 1989 in Puerto Rico Report
Hurricane Hugo developed from a tropical wave in the area south of the Cape Verde island in September 10th 1989 when it became a tropical depression were it continued to intensify to tropical storm intensity in September 11th. The storm was steadily moving in a general westward track and it became a hurricane in September 13th when it was still east of the Lesser Antilles, the storm continued the intensification process towards its peak of intensity of max. sustained winds of up to 160mph (140kts) and a minimal pressure of 918mb measured by the Hurricane Hunters in the afternoon of September 15th 1989. In that mission the airplane was almost lost due to extremely severe turbulence in the eyewall of the deepening storm but thankfully the airplane was able to do an emergency landing in Barbados. Favorable upper-level conditions and a strong ridge to the north of the tropical cyclone made Hugo become such a formidable storm and took it westward across the Atlantic Ocean towards the Lesser Antilles. After Hugo peaked out with the category 5 intensity the storm leveled off to category 4 intensity all the way across the Lesser Antilles were it made landfall in Guadaleoupe with max. sustained winds of 140mph (120kts) causing severe damage to the island. Then the storm continued moving westward (W) over the island of Monserrat and then turning WNW in September 17th towards the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Hugo's intensity was fluctuating at times but the storm was pretty much in the same category 4 intensity until it made landfall in St. Croix, USVI in the early morning hours of September 18th with max. sustained winds of 140mph (120kts) and a minimal pressure of 934mb. Damage in St. Croix was very severe were almost every structure was either damaged or destroyed in the island. Then the storm continued moving in a general WNW to NW track towards the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico were it made landfall at 7am September 18th when the storm was estimated to be down to a borderline category 3-4 hurricane with winds of up to 130mph (110kts) and a pressure of 945mb. One hour later the storm made landfall in eastern Puerto Rico in the area of Fajardo and Ceiba leaving the island by the area of Luquillo and Rio Grande about two hours after landfall. The storm was also estimated to have winds of 130mph gusting to 160mph and the pressure measured in Roosevelt Roads in Ceiba was 946.1mb. The eye also passed very near or over Culebra, Puerto Rico and then the storm continued moving northwest passing 20 miles north of San Juan while weakening due to southwest shear and interaction with land. It may be noted that based on the amount of damage and the very near category 4 intensity of Hugo at landfall in Puerto Rico that the damage was very severe in the eastern side specially in the areas were the eyewall was experienced were the damage estimates are of sustained category 4 conditions in St. Croix, Vieques, Culebra and extreme Eastern Puerto Rico.
The storm then continued moving and weakening heading northwest then intensifying back to category 4 intensity when it made landfall near Charleston, SC in the early morning hours of September 21st 1989 as a 140mph (120kts) hurricane with a pressure of 933mb becoming the costliest storm in the US history with 7 billion dollars in damage being supperated by Andrew in 1992.
Wind-Pressure Reports in Puerto Rico and USVI:
The highest sustained wind speed measured in the area was in Roosevelt Roads with 105mph (90kts) sustained gusting to 120mph (105kts) and a minimal pressure measured of 946.1 millibars. It has to be noted that those peak winds were measured from the West and there is El Yunque mountain of over 3000ft high which might have blocked stronger winds. Culebra island in a more exposed area and in the northeast eyewall of the storm had an unnoficial wind speed report of a gust to 170mph (148kts) before the instrument was lost, this was in the harbour. San Juan reported sustained winds of 77mph (67kts) with a gust to 92mph (80kts) also with unofficial reports of 110mph (95kts) gusts in other parts of the San Juan Metro Area. The highest rainfall amount measured in Puerto Rico was of 9.20 inches in my hometown of Gurabo in Central Eastern Puerto Rico, but it also has to be mentioned that in such intense winds in the eyewall in the storm would be hard to measure rainfall due to horizontal rain so higher rainfall amounts may have been possible in the area were the eyewall passed over.
Damage in Puerto Rico and USVI:
Damage in the USVI was extensive with extremely severe destruction in St. Croix were almost every structure was either damaged or destroyed.
In Puerto Rico the damage was extensive in the east half of the island and it was specially severe in the eastern and northeastern areas of the island from Humacao northward to Rio Grande with 115 to 140mph sustained winds estimated based on damage, Roosevelt Roads Naval Station was very hard hit along with the mentioned area. Damage in the rest of the areas including San Juan was also extensive but at a lesser amount and the west and south sides of the island were left either with minimal or no damage. Vieques and Culebra also had the same damage situation than St. Croix and the Eastern part of Puerto Rico with around 80% of the houses either damaged or destroyed in both islands, specially in Culebra.
Hurricane Georges 1998 in Puerto Rico Report
Hurricane Georges was the worst hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since hurricane "San Ciprian" in 1932. It was a category 3 intensity hurricane that crossed the entire island from east to west leaving destruction and damage all across.
Georges developed from a strong tropical wave that emerged from the west coast of Africa in the vicinity of the well known Cape Verde Islands which in September are a very common place for the development of strong tropical cyclones. A tropical depression was born in the morning of September 15th and 24 hours later it became tropical storm Georges, moving west in the far eastern Atlantic posing no inmediate threat to any land areas. The day later Georges steadily intensified becoming a hurricane. By September 19th Georges started a rapid-deepening process which led the storm to reach its peak of intensity in the morning of September 20th with max. sustained winds of 155mph/135kts and a minimun barometric pressure of 937mb, that happened when the storm was less than 300nm east of the Northern Leeward Islands. After this point the storm started a marked weakening trend with the pressure rising 26mb in less than 12 hours and the eye becoming less distinct. This weakening could be related to northerly upper-level wind shear that disrupted the structure of the hurricane due to an upper-level anticyclone located over the eastern Caribbean.
Then early in the morning of September 21st Georges made landfall in Antigua with top sustained winds of 115mph/100kts passing hours later over St. Kitts and Nevis still with the same intensity. With the intensity decreasing to 110mph/95kts shortly after passing St. Kitts and Nevis, Georges found better upper-level conditions with the shear diminishing and the outflow improving as the storm was approaching Puerto Rico. Later in that morning the eye of the hurricane moved over St. Croix, USVI and approaching Vieques, Puerto Rico. Satellite and radar images from Puerto Rico showed Georges becoming better organized as it was getting closer to Vieques. Georges passed over Vieques in the mid afternoon and around 6pm the eye of the hurricane made landfall in Eastern Puerto Rico with max. sustained winds of 115mph/100kts and a pressure of 967mb as the storm was intensifying and was back to category 3 intensity. This increase in the winds was based on 110mph/96kts sustained winds measrured in Fajardo, Puerto Rico when the eyewall of the storm came ashore, this report was the reason for increasing Georges back to category 3 intensity at landfall in Puerto Rico. In adition to that, the WSR-88D Doppler Radar in San Juan estimated sustained winds of 115mph/100kts when Georges was over Puerto Rico. Georges continued in a west/west-northwest direction over Eastern Puerto Rico with a very impressive eastern eyewall showed in the San Juan Radar. Georges passed 20nm south of San Juan at around 8pm, right over my hometown of Gurabo where the calm was experienced for more than 30 minutes followed by very turbulent and strong winds from the south asociated with the very strong eastern eyewall of the hurricane which lasted for several hours in my place. San Juan Intl. Airport (SJU) measured sustained winds of 79mph/69kts with a gust of 93mph/81kts at around 7:20pm of September 21st. The main reason for measuring lower winds in San Juas was the blockage of the Mountain Range south of the city, while cities like Caguas in Central Eastern, Puerto Rico where much affected by the strong winds also by the "Fujiwara Effect" of acceleration between mountains and valleys. The eye of the storm then continued moving now west over Central Puerto Rico and the land interaction for many hours caused the storm to weaken back to category 2 intensity with 110mph/95kts sustained winds as it was crossing the western part of the island. The eye of hurricane Georges left Western Puerto Rico at around 1am September 22nd still as a strong category 2 intensity hurricane 7 hours after landfall.
Georges continued over the Mona Passage passing over Mona and making landfall in Eastern Dominican Republic with sustained winds of 120mph/105kts and a pressure of 962mb later in the morning of September 22nd. The storm started to move in a more west-northwest direction over Dominican Republic passing just north of Santo Domingo and into the high mountains of Central Hispaniola. The storm lasted 21 hours over land weakening to 75mph/65kts in the morning of September 23rd making landfall later that day with the same intensity over Eastern Cuba. Still with a very impressive upper-level outflow, the storm left the north coast of Cuba by late afternoon September 24th and moving in a more northwesterly direction. Georges made landfall in Key West, Florida in the morning of September 25th with sustained winds of 105mph/90kts and a pressure of 981mb and then continued to move over the Gulf of Mexico intensifying further to 110mph/95kts and making its final landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi on the morning of September 28th with max. sustained winds of 105mph/90kts and a pressure of 964mb. Georges moved inland and became quasi-stationary being downgraded to tropical storm and dissipating early in the morning of October 1st.
Path of Destruction:
Georges was the second most destructive hurricane of the 1998 hurricane season after hurricane Mitch. A total of 602 deaths are directly assosiated to the path of the hurricane, this happened mainly in the Dominican Republic and Haiti due to the very heavy rains which caused a lot of flooding and mud slides as the storm came through Hispaniola.
In terms of damage, hurricane Georges left a path of destruction from the Leeward Islands to the USVI, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Haiti, Cuba, the Florida Keys and the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and the florida Panhandle. In the United States the damages estimates are of nearly $6 billion dollars.
Puerto Rico was hard hit by Georges with up to 72,605 houses affected by the storm of which 28,005 houses were completely destroyed. More than 26,000 people took shelter during the storm and a very high number was still in shelters during the aftermath of the hurricane. A 95% of the banana crop was destroyed and 75% of the coffee crop was lost. The entire electric system of the island was shut down by the hurricane and nearly the entire island was also without water. So far only 30,000 customers lost telephone service manily due to the new fiber optic lines installed all around the island. The road infrastructure was very affected mainly by flooding and muslides. The total damage estimates for Puerto Rico are of $1,907,026,374.