HURRICANE MITCH




One of the most devestating hurricanes of our time to cripple the country of Honduras was Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
Hondurans watched in disbelief as Mitch circled just off the coast, leading no clues as to where it would strike next. To the amazement of all, it took a surprising turn and tore through the very center of the country, destroying major cities such as San Pedro Sula, and even the capital of Tegucigalpa. The flooding was indescribable. San Pedro Sula's newly completed ultra-modern airport was 6 feet underwater. Its brand new, top of the line computer systems were useless. All equipment would need to be replaced. In outlying areas, people stranded on rooftops, surrounded by water, were helicoptered out to safety. Guananja, the most heavily damaged of the Bay Islands, would take years to recover.

Statistics can never truly paint an appropriate picture of the affects of such a hurricane. The impact of the lives lost, the destruction, and the entire economic impact cannot be measured in numbers. We have included those numbers here for those needing them for research purposes, but we encourage you to visit the personal news reports and click on the links to the photos below. The reports were written by people experiencing the hurricane as it was happening, and taking photos of their beloved hometowns during an extremely painful time. Rebuilding the country of Honduras took the strength of all its people, and that of many generous and empathetic donators of money, and more importantly, time. Help poured in from such far away nations as Japan, England, and Russia. The majority of countries donated to the cause of rebuilding Honduras. Hurricane Mitch's only good outcome was the bonding of humanity, across several lands, to forge ahead and create beauty from chaos.


Following is a brief timeline of the hurricane's life:

22 October: Tropical Depression `Thirteen' forms (winds less than 39 mph), but by the end of the day is upgraded to Tropical Storm Mitch (winds greater than 39 mph) and starts moving northwards.
24 October: Mitch is upgraded to a hurricane (winds greater than 74 mph).
25 October: Hurricane Mitch turns towards the west.
26 October: Winds near the centre of the hurricane peak at 180 mph.
27 October: Mitch starts to weaken, but turns southwards towards the northern coast of Honduras.
29 October: Mitch is downgraded to a tropical storm and makes landfall over Honduras.
31 October: Mitch is downgraded to a tropical depression whilst moving slowly south-westwards and still producing heavy rain.
01 November: Mitch dissipates as a depression over Guatemala.
03 November: The remnants of Mitch have moved northwards and reform as a tropical storm in the southern Gulf of Mexico.
05 November: Mitch makes landfall on the Gulf coast of southern Florida.
06 November: Mitch is declared `extra-tropical' as it heads north-eastwards across the Atlantic.

After becoming an `extra-tropical' storm Mitch raced across the Atlantic and developed into a vigorous depression bringing stormy conditions to the north and west of the UK.


Hurricane Mitch became the joint fourth strongest Atlantic hurricane on record. On 26 October 1998 a central pressure of 905 mb was measured along with wind speeds averaged over one minute of 155 knots (180 mph). Here are the previous records:-

GILBERT (1988) 888 mb
UNNAMED (1935) 892 mb
ALLEN (1980) 899 mb
CAMILLE (1969) 905 mb

It must be noted that these records are for the Atlantic and Caribbean only. Many more hurricanes and typhoons of this strength have formed in the Pacific Ocean over the years.

Whilst Mitch was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, the winds abated considerably as the storm moved inland. It was actually the huge amount of rainfall deposited by such a slow moving storm which caused most of the damage. Most rainfall recording instruments would have been destroyed during the storm. However, some records which survived indicated rainfall totals in Southern Honduras of 25" in 36 hours and 10" in 6 hours between 29 and 31 October*.

* source: Jon Hellin (Natural Resources Institute) and Corporacion Hondurena de Desarrollo Forestal.

The Cost

The human cost of Hurricane Mitch was enormous. It will probably never be known exactly how many died. As of 19 November 1998* estimates were as follows:-

Honduras: 7000 dead, 8300 missing
Nicaragua: 3000 dead, 2200 missing
Guatemala: 258 dead, 121 missing
El Salvador: 272 dead, 100 missing

* source: ReliefWeb

The economic cost of the hurricane is also huge and will probably be unquantifiable. However, with the change in landscape, destruction of homes, towns, villages and crops it is estimated that it could take decades for the economy to recover in the areas affected.

Further Information

More information on Hurricane Mitch including satellite images and humanitarian aid efforts can be found on the following Internet web sites:-

Meteorological Information:
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA)
Goddard Space Flight Center (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA)
Rainfall Information: see Nature, Vol.399 (27 May 1999), p.316.

Humanitarian Information:

Hurricane Mitch in Honduras reports by Honduras.com ReliefWeb
United Nations
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency, USA)
Charitable Choices
The University of San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Additional Notes

This fact sheet was compiled by Julian Heming with information obtained from the National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL.

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Click Here to Visit HONDURAS.COM!

Mitch is responsible for over nine thousand deaths predominately from rain-induced flooding in portions of Central America, mainly in Honduras and Nicaragua. This makes Mitch one of the deadliest Atlantic tropical cyclonesin history, ranking only below the 1780 "Great Hurricane" in the Lesser Antilles, and comparable to the Galveston hurricane of 1900, and Hurricane Fifi of 1974, which primarily affected Honduras.

The 905 mb minimum central pressure and estimated maximum sustained wind speed of 155 knots over the western Caribbean make Mitch the strongest October hurricane (records began in 1886). Mitch moved across the Yucatan Peninsula and southern Florida as a tropical storm.

Synoptic History

The origins of Mitch can be traced back to a tropical wave that moved across the southern portion of west Africa on 8/9 October. Rawinsonde data from Abidjan, Cote D' Ivorie, ocated about 980 n mi southeast of Dakar, suggests that the wave had passed through the region around 8 October. The wave crossed the west coast of Africa, generally south of 15 North, on 10 October. The wave progressed across the tropical Atlantic for the next seven days with west-southwesterly upper-level winds preventing significant development.

After moving through the eastern Caribbean Sea on the 18th and 19th, satellite pictures showed an organizing cloud pattern over the south-central Caribbean Sea on the 20th. Shower and thunderstorm activity continued to become better organized in the southwest Caribbean Sea early on the 21st. Subsequently, a U.S. Air Force Reserve (USAFR) reconnaissance aircraft was dispatched to investigate the disturbance that afternoon and found winds of 39 knots at the 1500-foot flight level, and a central pressure of 1001 mb. On this basis, the system became a tropical depression at 0000 UTC 22 October, about 360 n mi south of Kingston, Jamaica . The depression moved slowly westward and strengthened to a tropical storm later that day, about 225 n mi east-southeast of San Andres Island, while moving in a cyclonic loop. By the 23rd, the intensification of Mitch was disrupted by westerly vertical wind shear associated with an upper-level low north-northwest of the tropical cyclone. Later on the 23th, the upper low weakened, the shear diminished, and Mitch began to strengthen while moving slowly northward.

Mitch became a hurricane at 0600 UTC 24 October while located about 255 n mi south-southwest of Kingston, Jamaica. Later that day, as it turned toward the west, Mitch began a period of rapid intensification. During a 24 hour period beginning on the afternoon of the 24th, its central pressure dropped 52 mb, to 924 mb. With a symmetric, well-established upper-tropospheric outflow pattern evident on satellite imagery, the hurricane continued to strengthen. On the afternoon of the 26th, the central pressure reached a minimum of 905 mb, while the cyclone was centered about 50 n mi southeast of Swan Island. This pressure is the fourth lowest ever measured in an Atlantic hurricane, tied with Hurricane Camille in 1969. This is also the lowest pressure ever observed in an October hurricane in the Atlantic basin. Prior to Mitch, the strongest measured October hurricane in the northwest Caribbean was Hurricane Hattie in 1961 with a central pressure of 924 mb. At its peak on the 26th, Mitch's maximum sustained 1-minute surface winds were estimated to be 155 knots, a category five hurricane on the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale.

After passing over Swan Island on the 27 October, Mitch began to gradually weaken while moving slowly westward. It then turned southwestward and southward toward the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. The center passed very near the island of Guanaja as a category four hurricane. Mitch slowly weakened as its circulation interacted with the land mass of Honduras.

From mid-day on the 27th, to early on the 29th,the central pressure rose 59 mb. The center of the hurricane meandered near the north coast of Honduras from late on the 27th through the 28th, before making landfall during the morning of the 29th about 70 n mi east of la Ceiba with estimated surface winds of 85 knots and a minimum central pressure of 987 mb.

After making landfall, Mitch moved slowly southward, then southwestward and westward, over Honduras, weakening to a tropical storm by 0600 UTC 30 October, and to a tropical depression by 1800 UTC 31 October.

The overall motion was slow, less than 4 knots, for a week. This resulted in a tremendous amount of rainfall, estimated at up to 35 inches, primarily over Honduras and Nicaragua -- see Table 2. The heavy rainfall resulted in flash floods and mudslides that killed thousands of people. It is noted that a large east-west mountain range, with peaks approaching 10,000 feet, covers this part of Central America and this terrain likely contributed to the large rainfall totals. Some heavy rains also occurred in other portions of Central America.

Although Mitch's surface circulation center dissipated near the Guatemala/Mexico border on 1 November, the remnant circulation aloft continued to produce locally heavy rainfall over portions of Central America and eastern Mexico for the next couple of days.

By the afternoon of 2 November, meteorologists at the Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center (NHC) Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB), and the Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB) of the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service began to follow a cloud-system center, the remnants of Mitch, in satellite imagery over the Bay of Campeche. Shower and thunderstorm activity began to increase later on the 2nd. On 3 November, a low-level circulation became evident in the eastern Bay of Campeche. A USAFR aircraft sent to investigate the system later that afternoon found 45 knot winds at 1500 feet and a minimum central pressure of 997 mb. Thus, advisories were re-initiated on Tropical Storm Mitch located about 130 n mi southwest of Merida, Mexico. Mitch moved northeastward and weakened to a depression early on the 4th after it made landfall over the northwestern Yucatan peninsula. The center re-emerged over the south-central Gulf of Mexico by mid-morning on the 4th, and Mitch regained tropical storm strength. The storm began to accelerate northeastward as it became involved with a frontal zone moving through the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Mitch made landfall on the morning of 5 November in southwest Florida near Naples, with estimated maximum sustained winds of 55 knots. Mitch continued to move rapidly northeastward and by mid-afternoon of the 5th, moved offshore of southeastern Florida and became extratropical. The extratropical cyclone accelerated northeastward across the North Atlantic Ocean from the 6th through the 9th.

Meteorological Statistics

The best-track intensities in Table 1 depict the curves of minimum central sea-level pressure and maximum sustained one-minute average "surface" (10 meters above ground level) wind speed, respectively, as a function of time. The data these curves are based on, also plotted in the figures, include USAFR and NOAA aircraft reconnaissance data, Dvorak-based intensity estimates from TAFB, SAB, and the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency (AFGWC in figures).

Most of the aerial reconnaissance flights into Mitch were by the USAFR "Hurricane Hunters". The Hurricane Hunters flew 19 missions, and made 41 center fixes while NOAA aircraft performed 2 missions contributing 9 center fixes. The highest 700-mb flight-level wind report was 168 knots at 1900 UTC 26 October by the USAFR. This wind speed was observed 14 n mi northeast of the center near the time of a 905 mb GPS dropsonde-measured pressure. A dropsonde in the northeast eyewall showed winds to near 160 knots at 900 mb, but lower speeds below that altitude. The highest satellite-based intensity estimate, obtained by both objective and subjective methods, was 155 knots on the 26th and the 27th.

Table 2 lists rainfall observations from Honduras, with a maximum of 35.89 inches from Choluteca. Even higher values may have gone unobserved. Table 3 lists selected surface observations from Florida, where the highest observed sustained wind speed was 52 knots, at an elevation of 43.9 meters, from the Fowey Rock C-MAN station just offshore of Miami. Significant ship reports are listed in Table 4.

Five tornadoes were spawned by Mitch in South Florida: two in the Florida Keys, one each in Broward, Palm Beach, and Collier Counties. The most significant of these (F2 intensity) occurred in the upper Florida Keys, Islamorada to North Key Largo.

Casualty and Damage Statistics

The estimated death toll from Mitch currently stands at 9,086. Fact Sheet #21 from the U.S. Agency for International Development (Table 6), as of December 1998, compiled the following death totals: Honduras, 5677; Nicaragua, 2,863; Guatemala, 258; El Salvador; 239; Mexico, 9 and 7 in Costa Rica. The death toll also includes 31 fatalities associated with the schooner Fantome. In addition, another 9191 persons were listed as missing. The exact death toll will probably never be known. However, this was one of the deadliest Atlantic tropical cyclones in history, ranking below only the 1780 "Great Hurricane" in the lesser Antilles, and comparable to the Galveston hurricane of 1900, and Hurricane Fifi of 1974, the latter also striking Honduras.

Mitch also claimed two lives in Monroe County, Florida. Both deaths were drowning-related incidents resulting from a fishing boat capsizing.

It has been estimated that there was a 50 percent loss to Honduras' agricultural crops. At least 70,000 houses were damaged and more than 92 bridges were damaged or destroyed. There was severe damage to the infrastructure of Honduras and entire communities were isolated from outside assistance. To a lesser extent, damage was similar in Nicaragua, where a large mudslide inundated ten communities situated at the base of La Casitas Volcano. Guatemala and El Salvador also suffered from flash floods which destroyed thousands of homes, along with bridges and roads.

The Florida tornadoes injured 65 people and damaged or destroyed 645 homes.

Insured property damage supplied by the Florida insurance Council puts the insured damage estimate for Florida at $20 million. These estimates exclude storm surge damage. To determine the total estimated damage, a ratio of 2:1 is applied to the insured property damage; this is based on comparisons done in historical hurricanes. Thus, the U.S. total estimated damage from Mitch is $40 million.

Forecast and Warning Critique

Table 5 lists the various watches and warnings issued. Hurricane warnings were issued for Jamaica, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. A tropical storm warning was issued for the Cayman Islands, the Gulf of Mexico coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, and South Florida and the Florida Keys. As the effects of Mitch on Nicaragua were confined to rainfall flooding, there were no hurricane warnings there.

The average official track forecast errors for Mitch were 39, 80, 125, 167, and 237 n mi for the 12-, 24-, 36-, 48-, and 72-hr forecast periods, respectively - see Table 7. The number of forecasts ranged from 41 at the 12-hr period to 28 at the 72-hr period. The average track errors are quite similar to the average official forecast for the previous ten years. The official forecasts show that there was a persistent northwest bias to these forecasts. The official track forecast was for a slow mostly northwestward motion for the many days that the hurricane was in the northwestern Caribbean as suggested models. Mitch actually moved westward and then southward and the forecast turn toward the northwest did not take place until the hurricane had moved over Honduras and Nicaragua. Some of the most reliable guidance models also had this track bias. In retrospect, the slow southward, then southwestward, motion which began early on the 27th, was likely due to a weak mid-level anticyclone over the western Gulf of Mexico. However, the absence of rawinsonde data from Mexico and Central America likely hindered the track prediction models and forecasters from resolving this feature during the event.

The average absolute official wind speed forecast errors ranged from 9 knots at 12-hr to 35 knots at 72-hr - see Table 8. These are somewhat larger than the previous ten-year averages. Also, there were under-forecasts as large as 75 knots for the 72-hr forecast verifying at 1800 UTC on the 26th, which is the time of the estimated peak surface wind of 155 knots. Overall, the official intensity forecasts indicated a general strengthening trend between the 24th and the 26th.


Acknowledgments:

The authors are appreciative to the National Weather Service Offices in Melbourne, Tampa, and Miami, Florida for their post-storm reports and related data. Rainfall data from Honduras was provided by the Honduras Weather Service. The U.S. damage estimate data was supplied by the Florida Insurance Council. Steve Baig produced the best track map insert. The authors wish to thank Lixion Avila, Jack Beven, Jerry Jarrell, Max Mayfield, Richard Pasch, and Ed Rappaport for reviewing this document and making numerous suggestions which helped improve the report.


 

Table 1. Preliminary Best Track - Hurricane Mitch, 22 October - 09 November 1998.
Date/Time
(UTC)
Position Pressure
(mb)
Wind Speed
(kt)
Stage
Lat. (°N)Lon. (°W)
22/000011.676.1100230Tropical Depression
060011.977.1100230"
120012.077.9100230"
180011.677.9100135Tropical Storm
23/000011.877.6100040"
060012.277.699945"
120012.577.899945"
180012.978.099850"
24/000013.477.999755"
060013.977.899065Hurricane
120014.577.998575"
180015.078.198090"
25/000015.578.4965100"
060016.078.9951105"
120016.279.6945115"
180016.480.3926125"
26/000016.481.0923130"
060016.481.8922135"
120016.682.6914145"
180016.983.1905155"
27/000017.283.8910155"
060017.384.4917150"
120017.185.0922150"
180016.985.4928145"
28/000016.685.6933140"
060016.385.6938130"
120016.385.6948115"
180016.385.795995"
29/000016.285.897085"
060016.185.897975"
120015.985.798770"
180015.885.699460Tropical Storm
30/000015.685.799555"
060015.485.999650"
30/120015.286.199745Tropical Storm
180014.986.599845"
31/000014.787.099945"
060014.587.7100040"
120014.588.5100035"
180014.689.2100130Tropical Depression
01/000014.690.0100230"
060014.790.8100325"
120014.991.5100525"
180015.592.2100525Tropical Depression
02/000016.392.7100520Low
060017.193.1100520Low
120017.993.4100520Low
180018.793.7100520Low
03/000019.293.4100320Low
060019.392.7100320Low
120019.492.1100225Low
180019.691.499740Tropical Storm
04/000020.090.699735"
060020.889.699830Tropical Depression
120021.888.299840Tropical Storm
180023.386.599340"
05/000024.884.899345"
060025.683.199050"
120026.681.398755"
180027.578.399250Extratropical
06/000030.075.099350"
060032.572.099250"
120035.068.099050"
180037.063.098950"
07/000039.058.099050"
060041.053.099250"
120042.547.598650"
07/1800 44.542.097260"
08/000046.536.597460"
0600 48.531.097260"
1200 50.025.096260"
180053.520.595660"
09/000055.514.595660"
060058.010.595660"
120061.010.095660Extratropical
180063.55.096055"
26/180016.983.1905155Minimum Pressure
Landfalls
29/120015.985.798770Honduras
72 n mi E of La Ceiba
04/020020.190.599835Mexico
15 n mi NNE of Campeche
05/1100 26.281.998955USA
5 n mi W of Naples, Florida

 

Table 2. Hurricane Mitch selected Honduras rainfall totals, 25-31 October 1998.
LocationRainfall Total
(in)
Maximum 1-Day TotalDate
Choluteca35.8918.3710/31
La Ceiba34.5211.1910/27
Balfate26.4310.2410/26
Tela22.266.7310/28
Yoro20.499.2810/28
Orica17.894.3510/30
Santa Lucia15.185.4810/30
Sabana Grande14.537.3310/30
Lepaguare13.193.5510/26
Amapala12.3810.2410/31
Colonia 21 De Octubre11.856.3110/31
Santa Barbara11.813.9610/30
Unah (Tegucigalpa)11.585.0910/30
Moroceli10.657.4810/31
Roatan10.653.6810/27
La Mesa10.55*5.8710/28
Catacamas10.133.9510/30
Gracias10.053.2310/25

* - No data available 10/30-31; a higher amount could have occurred.



 

Table 3. Hurricane Mitch selected surface observations, November 1998.
 Minimum
sea-level
pressure
Maximum surface wind speed
(kt)
 
LocationPressure
(mb)
Date/time
(UTC)
Sustained
wind
(kts) a
Peak
gust (kts)
Date/timeb
(UTC)
Storm
surgec
(ft)
Storm
tided
(ft)
Rain
(storm total)
(in)
Florida
Key West Airport995.705/0853354805/0653   2.11
Boca Chica NAS996.605/0855253805/0855    
Marathon997.205/1053183005/1104    
Homestead        3.12
Homestead AFB995.905/1158203505/1229    
Tamiami Airport995.105/1153203305/1153   3.58
Miami Int. Airport994.105/1356203805/1042   5.88
Opa Locka Airport993.905/1353283805/1153    
Hollywood        3.29
Ft. Lauderdale        6.62
Ft. Lauderdale Beach        3.88
Ft. Lauderdale Int.993.805/1353293605/1120    
Ft. Lauderdale Exec.993.805/1353253405/1830    
Pompano Beack Airport993.705/1353283905/0408    
West Palm Beach        6.70
West Palm Beach994.705/1153253405/1658    
Naples        1.42
Naples Airport991.205/1115182705/1246    
Miami Beach  264005/1248  3.15
Flamingo  333905/0948    
Virginia Key995.005/1352263705/1252    
Lower Keys       2-4e 
Collier County       <1e 
Miami-Dade County       <1e 
Broward County       1-2e 
Vero Beach996.605/1321254205/13219   4.14
Vero Beach FAA Tower        5.45
Cape Canaveral (KTTS)1000.705/1358223905/1705 3e  
Patrick AFB (KCOF)999.005/1355273705/1735    
Melbourne Airport (KMLB)998.305/1350203005/1150   4.54
Melbourne NWS        4.95
Titusville (KTIX)1002.005/1358253505/1758    
Fort Pierce994.605/1255202905/1400   5.36
Orlando Int.1001.505/1253232905/1714   1.58
Stuart (KSUA)995.305/1230       
Jupiter/Tequesta1003.2       7.00
Port Myaca997.9       6.48
Stuart995.2       6.10
Fort Pierce996.2       5.33
Okeechobee998.9       4.17
St. Petersburg (KPIE)1001.805/0953202505/0953   1.22
St. Petersburg (KSPG)1000.905/1053212705/0945    
St. Petersburg Pier  303505/1300    
Tampa Airport (KTPA)1001.505/1056142305/1156   0.47
MacDill AFB (KMCF)1001.505/1059122205/1331   1.34
Tampa Old Port  242905/1254   
Ruskin (KTBW)        1.94
Sunshine Skyway  293405/1054    
Winter Haven (KGIF)1001.205/1053162305/1153   0.84
Lakeland (KLAL)1001.405/1054132005/1152   1.94
Sarasota Airport (KSRQ)1000.005/1050152505/1350   1.75
Arcadia        4.76
Punta Gorda (KPGD)997.305/0944253305/0944   3.88
Fort Myers (KFMY)994.605/1017213105/1238   6.05
Fort Myers Reg. S.W.993.605/1018273305/1018    

a Standard NWS ASOS and C-MAN on-hour averaging periods are 2 min; buoys are 8 min.

bDate/time is for sustained wind when both sustained and gust are listed.

cStorm surge is water height above normal astronomical tide level.

dStorm tide is water height above NGVD.

eEstimated.



 

Table 4. Hurricane Mitch selected National Buoy Data Center (NBDC) observations, 21 October - 05 November 1998.
LocationPress.
(mb)
Date/time
(UTC)
Sustained wind
(kts)a
Peak gust
(kts)
Date/ time
(UTC)b
Significant Wave Height
(ft)
CMAN Stations
Lake Worth, FL (LKWF1)994.105/1300364205/1200  
Fowey Rocks, FL (FWYF1)995.905/1400526305/1300  
Molasses Reef, FL (MLRF1)997.105/1200414505/1100  
Long Key, FL (LONF1)996.905/1100323905/0900 
Sombrero Key, FL (SMKF1)997.205/1100414605/0800  
Sand Key, FL (SAND1)995.905/0700394305/0700  
Dry Tortugas, FL (DRYF1)993.405/0500414705/0500  
NOAA/NDBC Buoys
42003 (25.9N 85.9W)1001.405/0500374404/2350 14.6
41010 (28.9N 78.5W)995.405/2000374505/1800 13.7
Ship Reports of 34 kt or Higher Winds
PFRO (14.4N 77.0W)1010.222/120037 22/12002.0
ZCBN5 (11.8N 78.3W)1006.023/210038 23/21002.0
ZCBN5 (12.5N 77.6W)1005.224/000037 24/00002.0
ZCBN5 (13.4N 77.1W)1005.324/030040 24/0300MM
ZCBN5 (14.2N 76.7W)1006.124/060039 24/0600MM
PEXV (19.7N 81.3W)1009.125/210043 25/21002.0
PDWT (20.2N 84.3W)1008.027/000037 27/00003.0
KGDF (21.5N 76.5W)1012.027/000035 27/00003.0
3FKZ3 (22.1N 73.1W)1016.027/000036 27/00003.0
PDWT (20.4N 83.9W)1009.527/030039 27/03007.0
PDWT (20.6N 83.5W)1009.527/060039 27/0600MM
PDWT (20.7N 83.0W)1009.027/090045 27/0900MM
PJAG (19.6N 85.5W)1011.027/120039 27/12002.0
PDWT (20.8N 82.5W)1012.027/120037 27/12004.0
ELRU3 (21.1N 85.5W)1010.027/120037 27/1200MM
C6YC (21.3N 85.5W)1010.027/180040 27/18002.0
C6YC (20.9N 82.6W)1009.527/210045 27/21003.0
C6KU7 (18.6N 86.6W)1005.128/120040 28/12003.0
PJAG (14.4N 77.3W)1010.031/120035 31/12002.0
C6YE (17.7N 87.2W)1008.031/120038 31/12003.0
C6HH3 (16.2N 87.6W)1007.831/150054 31/1500MM
WLDF (23.9N 86.9W)1003.704/060040 04/06004.0
3FKZ3 (20.3N 85.4W)999.004/120048 04/1200MM
WLDF (24.7N 84.9W)1003.004/120039 04/12002.0
3FKZ3 (20.0N 84.9W)1000.004/150048 04/15005.0
3FKZ3 (19.5N 82.8W)1001.005/000036 05/00004.0
ELFT8 (22.3N 86.6W)998.005/000038 05/00002.0
C6KY3 (22.7N 86.3W)997.005/030040 05/03003.0
SHIP (25.1N 85.2W)1000.505/060036 05/06006.0
KXDB (24.9N 80.3W)996.105/120045 05/12003.0
C6KU7 (25.9N 77.5W)1000.005/150035 05/15003.0
3EZK9 (25.1N 77.5W)1001.005/180037 05/180010.0
ELUA5 (26.0N 75.4W)1000.005/180038 05/18004.0

a Standard NWS C-MAN averaging period is 2 min; buoys are 8 min.

b Date/time is for sustained wind when both sustained and gust are listed.

C Buoy failed shortly after this observation; a lower pressure and a higher wind and wave height may have occurred.

MM - missing data



 

Table 5. Watch and warning summary, Hurricane Mitch, 21 October - 09 November 1998.
Date/time
(UTC)
ActionLocation
24/1500Hurricane Watch IssuedJamaica.
24/2100Hurricane Warning IssuedJamaica.
Hurricane Watch IssuedEastern Cuba...from Camaguey to Guantanamo
25/1200Hurricane Watch IssuedCayman Islands.
25/2100Tropical Storm Warning Issued Cayman Islands.
Hurricane Warning DiscontinuedJamaica.
26/0000Hurricane Watch Discontinued Eastern Cuba...from Camaguey to Guantanamo.
26/0300Hurricane Warning Issued Honduras from Limon eastward to the Nicaragua border...and Swan Island.
26/2100Hurricane Warning Issued Honduras from Limon to the Guatemala border.
27/0000Hurricane Watch IssuedBelize.
27/0430Hurricane Watch Issued East coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Cabo Catoche southward.
27/0900Hurricane Warning Issued East coast of the Yucatan Peninsula from Cabo Catoche southward..and the coast of Guatemala.
27/1200Hurricane Warning IssuedBelize.
27/1800 Hurricane Watch Discontinued...Tropical Storm Warning changed to a Tropical Storm WatchCayman Islands.
29/0300Tropical Storm Watch Discontinued Cayman Islands.
29/2100 Hurricane Warning Downgraded to Tropical Storm Warning Caribbean Coast of Honduras/Guatemala/Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula from Cabo Catoche southward... including the offshore islands.
Hurricane Watch IssuedBelize.
30/1500Hurricane Watch DiscontinuedBelize.
31/1500Tropical Storm Warning Discontinued Caribbean Coast of Honduras..Guatemala..Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula from Cabo Catoche southward... including the offshore islands.
03/2100Tropical Storm Warning Issued West coast of Yucatan Peninsula from Progreso southward to Carmen.
04/0900Tropical Storm Warning Discontinued West coast of Yucatan Peninsula from Progreso southward to Carmen.
04/1500Tropical Storm Warning Issued Florida Keys...and the Florida Peninsula southward from Tarpon Springs on the west coast and southward from New Smyrna Beach on the east coast.
04/1800Tropical Storm Warning Issued Western Cuba from the province of Matanzas westward including the Isle of Youth.
05/1500Tropical Storm Warning Discontinued Florida Keys west of Craig Key...and Florida West Coast from west of Flamingo to Tarpon Springs
05/1800Tropical Storm Warning Discontinued Western Cuba from the province of Matanzas westward including the Isle of Youth.
05/2100Tropical Storm Warning Discontinued Florida Keys east of Craig Key...and Florida East Coast southward from New Smyrna Beach.


 

Table 6. Deaths estimates associated with Hurricane Mitch. Death figures based on Fact Sheet #21 from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
LOCATIONDEATHS*
Honduras5677
Nicaragua2863
Guatemala258
El Salavador239
Mexico9
Costa Rica7
United States2
Offshore - Crew from Ship Fantome31
Storm Total9086

* - These are the best estimates received to-date; subject to revision at a later time.



 

Table 7.
Preliminary forecast evaluation of Hurricane Mitch: Heterogeneous sample.
Errors in nautical miles for tropical storm and hurricane stages with number of forecasts in parenthesis. Numbers in bold italics represent average errors which were smaller than the official forecast.
Forecast TechniquePeriod (hours)
1224364872
CLIP49 (41)115 (40)208 (38)323 (36)604 (32)
GFDI44 (39)96 (38)146 (35)181 (31)230 (26)
GFDL**39 (38)71 (36)116 (34) 140 (30)228 (26)
LBAR42 (41)88 (40)138 (38)179 (33)246 (25)
AVNI59 (41)113 (40)166 (38)217 (36)300 (32)
AVNO**57 (39)103 (38)153 (36)198 (34)277 (30)
BAMD51 (41)104 (40)162 (38)219 (36)345 (32)
BAMM60 (41)106 (40)157 (38)202 (36)297 (32)
BAMS83 (41)156 (40)232 (38)308 (36)460 (32)
NGPI46 (40)67 (38)98 (32)134 (28) 170 (24)
NGPS**47 (21)70 (20)98 (17) 130 (15)191 (13)
UKMI52 (40)88 (38)118 (36)153 (34) 230 (30)
UKM**52 (21)87 (20)116 (19)144 (18) 200 (16)
A90E46 (41)96 (40)141 (38)188 (36)385 (32)
A98E46 (41)95 (40)140 (38)197 (36)424 (32)
A9UK52 (19)104 (18)157 (18)213 (18)449 (16)
EMX 61 (9) 122 (7) 150 (6)
NHC Official39 (41)80 (40)125 (38)167 (35)237 (28)
NHC Official 10-Year Average
(1988-1997)
47 (1838)88 (1633)127 (1449) 165 (1284)248 (1006)

** - Output from these models was unavailable at time of forecast issuance.



 

Table 8. Mean absolute intensity forecast errors for Hurricane Mitch - homogeneous sample. Bold italicized number represents forecasts which were better than the Official forecast. Numbers in parenthesis is the bias. (Number in parenthesis below 10-year averages is the number of cases)
Forecast TechniquePeriod (hours)
1224364872
SHIPS11.1 (-3.4)13.0 (-2.9)20.2 (-4.2)26.4 (-3.2) 36.8 (-7.0)
GFDI14.3 (-11.9) 15.5 (-9.1) 23.2 (-5.5)32.7 (-1.6) 45.7 (6.3)
SHFR13.0 (-5.2)15.1 (-5.6)22.9 (-7.8)34.2 (-11.3)48.3 (-19.2)
NHC Official9.4 (-2.7)12.9 (-1.3)19.5 (0.8)28.5 (1.9)35.4 (2.0)
Number of Cases3531282521
NHC Official 10-Year Average
(1988-1997)
7.0 (-1.5)
(1905)
12.0 (-2.3)
(1724)
15.9 (-3.8)
(1548)
18.5 (-5.2)
(1373)
21.4 (-5.8)
(1062)

** - Output from this model is not available until after forecast issuance.


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