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Hurricanes and Tropical Storms in Puerto Rico from 1980 to 2005

Hurricanes in Puerto Rico 1500-1899
Hurricanes in Puerto Rico 1900-1979
Hurricanes in Puerto Rico 1980-2005
Hurricane Hugo 1989, Puerto Rico
Hurricane Georges 1998, Puerto Rico
Hurricane Georges Damage Photos
Super Hurricane Wilma

Cat-3 hurricane Georges over Puerto Rico
Septembet 21st 1998

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:

(View the complete report)

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:

(View the complete report)

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 Marilyn at CPA to Puerto Rico
September 15th 1995

Radar image of hurricane Hortense at landfall
September 10th 1996

Hurricane Lenny SE of Puerto Rico
November 17th 1999

Hurricane Bertha north of Puerto Rico
July 8th 1996

Hurricane Georges at landfall in Puerto Rico
September 21st 1998

Tropical storm Jeanne at landfall in PR
September 15th 2004