User:12george1/Effects of Hurricane Hugo in the Greater and Lesser Antilles

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Hurricane Hugo
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hugo sept 17 1989 1744Z.jpg
Hurricane Hugo over the Lesser Antilles on September 17
Winds1-minute sustained: 140 mph (220 km/h)
Pressure941 mbar (hPa); 27.79 inHg
Fatalities39 total
Damage$2.47 billion (1989 USD)
Areas affectedLesser Antilles, Puerto Rico
Part of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season

The Effects of Hurricane Hugo in the Greater and Lesser Antilles were among the worst on record in the area.





At 1 am AST on September 17, 1989, Hurricane Hugo made a direct landfall on Grande-Terre in Guadeloupe, pounding the island with incredibly ferocious Category 4 sustained winds of 140 mph (220 km/h). A storm surge of up to eight ft (2.5 m) topped by high battering waves smashed ashore. Hugo wreaked massive devastation on the island, especially in Desirade and Grande-Terre. The hurricane damaged 30% of the buildings on the island and completely destroyed 10,000 homes (most of which were archaic houses), leaving a total of at least 90,000 or nearly 30% of the island's 340,000 people seriously affected, with 35,000 rendered homeless. 70% of the businesses sustained damages, including hotels, schools and churches. Five people died and 107 were injured. An additional seven people were killed three days after the storm, when a medical helicopter crashed while evacuating victims in Desirade. The storm almost completely destroyed (80%) the towns of le Moule and St. François, on the island's eastern end. Debris blocked at least 30% of the island's roads. Agriculture suffered massive losses that took years to recover from, as Hugo flattened 100% of the banana crop, 50% of the sugar cane crop and destroyed nearly all of the island's coconut palms. In addition, most of Guadeloupe's fishing fleet was wiped out. Total damage to the island from Hugo amounted to 4 billions francs or $880 million (1989 USD).

Hugo's winds knocked the airport control tower out of commission; Raizet Airport anenometer experienced 90 mph (144 km/h) sustained winds as well as a 117 mph (187 km/h) sustained gust before knocked. Minimal pressure fell to 943 mb (27.79 inHg) as the eye passed after midnight.[1] In a French navy marine vessel in Pointe-à-Pitre bay, gusts reported to reach 184 mph (296 km/h).

Hugo was the strongest storm to impact Guadeloupe since Hurricane Cleo (1964), and the worst storm since Hurricane Inez (1966). In addition it was the strongest hurricane to hit the island since the legendary 1899, the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane of all time and the 1928 storm.


Strong winds from Hugo pounded the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. Nearly every home on the island was damaged to some degree, leaving 11,000 out of 12,000 people, over 90% of the islands residents, homeless. Numerous schools, churches, the hospital, the police department, the government headquarters, and the main power station, disrupting electrical, water, and telephone service for weeks. A 180 feet (55 m) stone jetty was destroyed at the Plymouth due to a storm surge of 20 feet (6.1 m). Inland, rainfall up to 7 inches (180 mm) created mudslides at the foot of Chances Peak, destroying 21 homes. Ten people were killed, 89 were injured, and damage reached at least $260 million, making it the most expensive hurricane in the history of Montserrat. Tourism and agriculture also suffered significantly.[2] Additionally, the local bat population was devastated, with an estimated 90 percent decrease in numbers after Hugo's passage.[3][4] The species Chiroderma improvisum has not been seen on Montserrat since, and it is feared that it may be extinct on the island.[5]

United States Virgin Islands[edit]

The slower speed allowed Hugo to punish the island of St. Croix with the worst beating of any location along the hurricane's destructive path. At 2 am local time on September 18, Hugo's eyewall struck St. Croix, bringing Category 4 winds, sustained at 140 mph (230 km/h). The hurricane's gusts were remarkably violent, and many residents witnessed tornado-like vortices barreling across the island as the hurricane raged about them. A storm surge of 2–3 ft (0.61–0.91 m), topped by battering waves 20–23 ft (6.1–7.0 m) high, assaulted the coast, adding to the destruction. Two people were killed on St. Croix, 80 injured, and 90% of the buildings were damaged or destroyed. Damage estimates for St. Croix were astronomical, over $1 billion, and the island's entire infrastructure was virtually wiped out. Six weeks after the hurricane, only 25% of the public roads had been cleared, and only 25% of the island had power."[6]

On the island of St. Thomas, damage was equally extensive. Television station WBNB-TV channel 10 (the local CBS affiliate) had its transmitter completely destroyed by Hurricane Hugo. The station would not return to the air, because of the damages, and the owners' inability to afford repairs.

Puerto Rico[edit]

Rainfall totals from Hugo in Puerto Rico

Damage in Puerto Rico was severe, especially in the eastern part of the island. The agricultural sector was devastated, with the banana and coffee crops being almost completely wiped out. Heavy rains caused severe flooding in the vicinity of San Juan; in addition, several roads and bridges were washed away.[4]

In all, 12 deaths in Puerto Rico are attributed to Hugo,[7] six of which occurred in the southern city of Guayama where some residents were electrocuted by downed power lines. Nearly 28,000 people were left homeless by the storm as damages exceeded $1 billion.[4]


Extensive relief aid was provided throughout by The Salvation Army, the Red Cross and various churches.

Saint Croix[edit]

On the island of Saint Croix, looting and lawlessness reigned in the aftermath of Hugo. In Operation Hawkeye, then-President of the United States George H. W. Bush ordered federal forces to Saint Croix to suppress the violence, protect property, and restore law and order. Elements of the Army, Navy and the Coast Guard, along with a contingent from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), formed Joint Task Force (JTF) 40 for Operation Hawkeye.[8] It also resulted in the first operational deployment of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), when the New Mexico-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) was deployed to assist in medical care needs of the stricken island.[9] Three days after the storm hit, the Governor of the United States Virgin Islands Alexander Farrelly asked President Bush for federal assistance in restoring order to the island.[8]

National Basketball Association player Tim Duncan, born in Christiansted and a two-time NBA MVP, of the San Antonio Spurs attributed his basketball career to Hurricane Hugo's destruction. When Tim was 13 years old he was a competitive swimmer who was considered one of the top United States competitors for the 400-meter freestyle. However, in the aftermath of Hugo, every swimming pool on Saint Croix was destroyed, including the Olympic-size swimming pool. With no pool to practice in, Duncan turned to basketball. Tim Duncan said, "I'm very fortunate to be where I am today. Without Hugo, I might still be swimming."[10] A resident of St. Croix recorded the hurricane and aftermath on a VHS video camera. After being evacuated from the island days later, the video footage was aired on WGAL channel 8 from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and picked up by NBC and aired as part of the nightly news. This was credited as the first "official" eye witness footage shown on U.S. national television. About 20 years later, Weather Underground member Jeff Masters wrote and described his experience on Saint Croix during the hurricane, noting that "in some respects, after 20 years, there and many aspects of the society that have yet to recover".


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference PrelimReport was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Montserrat Hurricane – Sept 1989 (Report). International Rescue Corps. May 16, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  3. ^ United Kingdom – Montserrat (Report). Commonwealth Secretariat. 2009. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Michael York (September 19, 1989). "Deadly Hugo Slams Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands". Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  5. ^ Scott Pedersen (2000). Blown in, Blown off, and Blown up: the Bats of Montserrat, BWI (Report). University of Washington. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  6. ^ Masters, Jeffery. "Remembering Hurricane Hugo (Day 10)". Weather Underground. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference geocitieshugo was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ a b "Operation Hawkeye". External link in |publisher= (help)
  9. ^ "Disaster deployments by the NM1-DMAT". University of New Mexico. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
  10. ^ "Tim Duncan biography". JockBios. Retrieved December 19, 2010.