SOMETCUBA Bulletin

Volume 5 Number 1

January 1999


HURRICANE SEASON OF 1998 IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC

«GEORGES»

September 15th-29th

Hurricane Georges originated within a tropical wave proceeding from Africa in the morning of September 15th 1998, 600 km South-southeast from the islands of Cabo Verde. With a motion between West and West-northwest it kept organizing and intensifying and in the morning of the 16th it became a tropical storm. In the afternoon the next day it classified as hurricane with a well-defined eye pattern.

Georges kept the same course with a speed of 22 km/h gaining organization and intensity with a rate of one category of the Saffir-Simpson scale every 24 hours approximately. It reached its most intense moment in the evening of the 19th and the morning of the 20th, as maximum winds of 240 km/h and a pressure of 937 hPa were registered (category 4). It was then to the East and close to the North group of the Lesser Antilles.

Since the afternoon of the 20th, Georges entered a hostile environment with strong superior winds from the North-northwest, associated to a strong anti cyclone that dominated the eastern Caribbean. This caused a quite drastic decrease of intensity with the maximum winds diminishing to 185 km/h and the central pressure rising to 966 hPa. In this condition it stroke the Island of Antigua in the early hours of the 21st. With the same course it kept affecting the islands of the North group of the Lesser Antilles to enter Puerto Rico in the late afternoon that day. After crossing Puerto Rico, it comes out to sea again in the early hours of the 22nd. The conditions that provoked its weakening had ceased so it reached again the category 3, just before getting to the Dominican Coasts.

With a motion towards the West-northwest it entered the East end of the Dominican Republic in the morning of the 22nd. Sustained maximum winds were of about 195 km/h it crossed La Hispaniola keeping the same course and emerged into the Gulf of Gonave in the morning of the 23rd. At that time it showed a wide and poorly defined center where several circulation patterns could be located. It restructured over the seas close to the Northwest of Haiti, heading with the same course to the southern coast of Guantánamo in the extreme East of Cuba.

On Figure 2, where the trajectory of Hurricane Georges over Cuba is presented, it can be seen that it entered through the extreme East of the country in the morning of the 23rd, through a point to the West and very close to the Point of Maisí. Its winds were at the time of about 120 km/h, a category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. After a slight movement to the Northwest through the province of Guantánamo, it took again course West-northwest and moved the 23rd overnight over the province of Holguín. With a speed of 22 km/h it crossed over the northern parts of the provinces of Las Tunas, Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila. On this later province it bent further to the Northwest and went out to the sea through the Cayo Coco area in the afternoon of the 24th entering the Florida Strait where it gained some intensity.

Figure 3 presents the cloud pattern associated to Hurricane Georges when it was over the extreme East of Cuba while Figure 4 shows the areas of rain as it was over Camagüey. In both images the wide center that characterized this hurricane during its pass over Cuba can be seen.

At noon on the 25th it crossed West of Key West with maximum winds of 168 km/h, the accompanying cloud bands produced heavy rains over the provinces of Matanzas, Havana and to a lesser extent on Havana City.

Fig.2. Trajectory of Hurricane Georges Near Cuba.

Fig.3. Hurricane Georges over the extreme East of Cuba. Image from the GOES-8 satellite from September 23rd at
22:45 UTC.

Fig. 4. Areas of rainfall of Hurricane Georges as seen by the meteorological radar of Camaguey as it passed through the north of that province.

Table 5 shows the values of the maximum sustained winds (estimated) and the gusts registered at some Cuban stations as Hurricane Georges passed by. On Table 6 the largest rainfall accumulates are shown.

Table 5: Maximum sustained wind (estimated) in kilometers per hour (1 min average) and maximum gusts registered at some Cuban stations as Hurricane Georges passed by on September 24th 1998

STATION NO.

LOCALITY

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WIND (km/h)

MAXIMUM REGISTRED GUST (km/h)

78338

Sagua La Grande, VC

115

148

78328

Varadero

78

139

78339

Cayo Coco, CA

96

109

78348

Caibarién, VC

85

108

78353

Nuevitas, CG

83

108

78358

Puerto Padre, LT

80

100

Table 6: Greatest rainfall ammounts registered after Hurricane Georges’s pass through Cuba

LOCALITY AND PROV.

ACCUMULATED in mm.

DAY

Limonar, MT

620

25

Bermeja, MT

516

25

Puriales de Caujerí, GT

446

23

Gran Piedra, SC

481

23

Venezuela, CA

345

24

Vertientes, CG

322

24

Nueva Paz, LH

316

25

Yabú, VC

311

24

Jiguaní, GR

281

23

Cruces, CF

278

24

Santiago de las Vegas, CH

268

25

Jatibonico, SS

265

24

Las Tunas, LT

245

24

Pinares de Mayarí, HG

243

23

San Cristóbal, PR

145

25

Damages caused by Georges in Cuba

A little over 80 hours before Georges reached Cuba an intense work of information to the government, the Civil Defense and the public was undertaken through the National Radio and TV networks with live broadcasts directly from the National Center of Forecasting.

According to the threatening situation for the Country, the Civil Defense issued the Information Phase for the eastern provinces and extended it to the center and the West of the Country with 24 hours intervals. The phase of Cyclone Alert was issued for the most threatened provinces (Guantánamo and Las Tunas) on September the 21st at noon and on the 22nd at 9:30 on Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila and Sancti Spíritus, The next day it was extended to the central provinces. The phase of Cyclone Alarm was issued on September 22nd at 9:30 for the eastern provinces and extended to the central ones the next day. Though the minimum term to issue this last phase is 24 hours before the strike of a hurricane, in this occasion it was done earlier, taking into consideration the degree of danger and the time needed to carry out the evacuation. This had also been taken into account when the previous phase was issued. Headquarters for catastrophe situation were activated at the 14 provinces and 169 municipalities of the Country. Emergency plans were revised in State Organisms, economical entities and social institutions at all levels. In this manner the country got ready to face the threat of the hurricane.

Evacuation of the population was carried at provinces under the phases of Alert and Alarm to a total amount of 556,672 persons. Despite all the measures taken 6 people regrettably lost their life by indirect causes due to negligence of the victims.

There was a total of 60,475 houses affected, 3,841 of them completely destroyed and 56,994 in a partial manner. Economic entities had 1,177 sites affected, 12 completely and 1,165 partially.

The main damages to the agriculture were: 15,758 hectares of diverse crops, 5,006 of grain, 5,824 of rice and 42,662 of coffee as well as 36,040 tons of fruit. Insured loses reached 15 millions of dollars.

Thanks to timely evacuation, loses in cattle were minimum, with only 497 heads of cattle and 21,387 barnyard fowls missing, there were total damages at 11 agriculture facilities and partial damages at 1,807.

As the system entered the Gulf of Mexico, it gradually ceased it’s influence over Cuba and took a course more to the Northwest diminishing its speed to approximately 15 km/h. Here it intensified a little further reaching a maximum wind speed of 175 km/h. Since the morning of the 27th it started moving almost to the North and at daybreak of the 28th it entered to the state of Mississippi and then, with a slower step it moved over Alabama. Upon U. S. land it weakened quickly, in the afternoon it degraded to tropical storm and in the morning of the 29 to tropical depression. The remains of Georges traveled through the Southeast of the U. S. until they merged with a frontal system.

Hurricane Georges at Category 4. September 20, 1998 (00:45 UTC).

«HERMINE» WB01512_.gif (115 bytes)


Copyright © 1998, 1999 Cuban Meteorological Society
Last modified: April 12, 1999

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