'98 Hurricane Season

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1998 Hurricane Activity for the North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico

NOVEMBER 30, 1998

NOAA/National Weather Service
NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Prediction

1998 Hurricane Activity for the North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico

TS = Tropical Storm, H = Hurricane

WIND (mph) Deaths
TS ALEX 27 July - 02 Aug 60 0
H BONNIE 19 Aug - 30 Aug 115 3
TS CHARLEY 21 Aug - 24 Aug 70 20
H DANIELLE 24 Aug - 03 Sep 105 0
H EARL 31 Aug - 03 Sep 100 3
TS FRANCES 08 Sep - 13 Sep 65 1
H GEORGES 15 Sep - 01 Oct 155 602
TS HERMINE 17 Sep - 20 Sep 45 0
H IVAN 19 Sep - 27 Sep 90 0
H JEANNE 21 Sep - 01 Oct 105 0
H KARL 23 Sep - 28 Sep 105 0
H LISA 05 Oct - 09 Oct 75 0
H MITCH 22 Oct - 05 Nov 180 11,000+
H NICOLE 24 Nov - ** 75 **

** [as of 5 a.m. EST 11/30/98]

1998 Seasonal Highlights

  • It was the deadliest in over 200 years (11,000 deaths in Central America, Source: Wire Services)

  • A total of 14 tropical systems (named storms) developed during the 1998 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

  • Mitch was the fourth most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin, and the strongest ever observed in the month of October.

  • In a remarkable span of 35 days, starting on Aug. 19 and ending on Sept. 23, 10 named tropical cyclones formed. That's about a whole season's worth of activity crammed into a month. Four of them made landfall in the United States. In addition, Jeanne and Karl affected the Cape Verde Islands and Bermuda respectively, while three others passed near or over the Azores.

  • On 25th of September there were four hurricanes -- Georges, Ivan, Jeanne and Karl -- in progress at the same time. This is the first time such an event occurred this century.

Highlights of Individual Storms


Tropical Storm Alex formed in the eastern Atlantic south of the Cape Verde Islands on Jul. 27th with wind speeds of 50 mph. The storm diminished Aug d. several hundred miles northeast of the Leeward Islands.


Tropical storm Bonnie developed over the tropical Atlantic on August 19th, 675 east of the Leeward. It moved west-northwest and then north. The storm neared the coast of North Carolina on Aug. 26th, near Cape Fear and moved slowly over extreme eastern emerging of f the Outer Banks near Kitty Hawk early on the 28th. Bonnie weakened quickly. At least 3 deaths are attributed to Bonnie


Forming as a tropical depression in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on August 21st, Charley developed quickly reaching wind speeds of 60 mph moving at 15 mph toward the southern Texas coast. The storm later moved inland near Port Aransas, Texas on Aug 22d. Torrential rain caused floods that claimed at least 12 lives in Texas, mainly in the Del Rio Area and 9 more across the border in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico.


Danielle formed over the Central Tropical Atlantic Ocean on August 24 and intensified into a tropical storm later that same day. It became a Hurricane on August 25th and moved West-Northwest for 5 days. After passing a couple of hundred miles northeast of the northwest Bahamas, Danielle turned to the North on 31 August. By Sept. 1, Danielle was headed northeastward and out to sea.


Earl formed in the Gulf of Mexico about 575 miles south-southwest of New Orleans on August 31. It gradually intensified to Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale while moving north and northeast. Earl made landfall as a Category 1 Hurricane near Panama City, Fla., during the early morning of Sept. 3. Earl produced an estimated storm surge of 8 feet in Franklin, Wakulla and Taylor counties and about 12 inches of rain in Panama City, Fla.

Frances formed in the Gulf of Mexico, about 220 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Sept. 8 and reached Tropical Storm status the next day. Frances moved slowly on a general northwesterly track and made landfall just to the northeast of Port Aransas, Texas as a 65 mph Tropical Storm. Frances drenched portions of Texas and Louisiana.


Georges formed in the Far Eastern Atlantic from a tropical wave early on the 15th of September. The system was upgraded to a tropical storm on the 16th. By late afternoon on the 17th, satellite imagery indicated that Georges developed an eye and was upgraded to Hurricane status. Georges moved on a general west to west- northwest course at 15 to 20 mph for the next several days. During this period, Georges is estimated to have reached a peak intensity of 150 mph (Category 4) and a minimum central pressure of 938 mb on the evening of the 19th, while located about 420 miles east of Guadeloupe in the Lesser Antilles. Georges first of many landfalls occurred at Antigua in the Leeward Islands late on Sept. 20th. After moving near or over other islands of the northeast Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, it then hit Puerto Rico on the evening of Sept. 21 with estimated maximum winds of 115 mph (Category 3). Georges weakened very little while over Puerto Rico and was even stronger when it made landfall in the Dominican Republic on the afternoon of Sept. 22 with estimated maximum winds of 120 mph (Category 3). Georges weakened after crossing the mountainous terrain of the Hispaniola and made landfall in Eastern Cuba on Sept. 23rd with estimated maximum winds of 75 mph (Category 1).

Georges continued along the northern coast of Cuba for most of Sept. 24th. Thereafter, the Hurricane moved into the Florida Straits early on the 25th and re-intensified making landfall near Key West, Fla. On the 25th with estimated maximum winds of 105 mph (Category 2). Georges continued on a general west-northwest to northwest track on the 26th and 27th, turning to a north-northwest heading and gradually slowing down as it approached the Coast of the Central Gulf of Mexico. Georges made its final landfall near Biloxi, Miss., as a Category 2 Hurricane. Then Georges meandered and weakened to a tropical storm on the afternoon of Sept. 28th. Georges was downgraded to a tropical depression by mid-morning on Sept. 29th while located about 35 miles north-northeast of Mobile, Ala.


Hermine developed from an area of low pressure located over the Northwestern Caribbean. It moved into the Gulf of Mexico and became a tropical depression on Sept. 17th. The depression meandered over the Central Gulf for a couple of days and reached Tropical Storm status on the 19th when located about 150 miles south- southwest of New Orleans. Hermine moved inland near Cocodrie, Louisiana, with 40 to 45 mph winds early on Sept. 20th producing torrential rains.


Ivan developed on Sept. 20th from a tropical wave located a few hundred miles to the Southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It remained over the Eastern Atlantic, moving toward the north to northwest for most of its one-week lifetime. Ivan became a tropical storm early on the 21st. When the shearing decreased on the 23rd, an eye appeared and Ivan became a Hurricane. Ivan reached its peak intensity of 90 mph winds late on the 25th.


Jeanne became a tropical storm not far off the west coast of Africa on the 21st and intensified to a hurricane the following day. Jeanne was only the third tropical storm this century to form so far east in the Atlantic. It moved west-northwestward for a couple of days, reaching a peak intensity of 105 mph on Sept. 24th, while located about 600 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. The Hurricane turned toward the north over the East-Central Atlantic late on Sept. 26th and eventually weakened to a Tropical Storm in the vicinity of the Azores.


Hurricane Karl developed from a small low pressure area that was tracked from the Coast of the Carolinas. It became a tropical depression on the 23rd of Sept. about 200 miles east-northeast of Bermuda. Karl moved southeastward and then northeastward and became a 105 mph Hurricane late on the 26th. It continued moving toward the northeast over cooler waters and became extratropical on Sept. 28th.


Lisa moved mostly northward over the eastern North Atlantic ocean from Oct. 5- 9 and then became and then became extratropical. Lisa briefly became a minimal hurricane with 85 mph winds on Oct. 9. The storm did not affect land.


Mitch formed in the southwest Caribbean sea from a tropical wave about 360 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica later on Oct. 21. The system initially moved slowly westward and intensified to a tropical storm. Mitch then moved slowly northward and then north-northwestward on Oct. 23rd and 24th, gradually gaining strength. By early on Oct. 24, Mitch became a hurricane. Later that day, as the Hurricane moved toward the west, Mitch began to intensify rapidly. In about 24 hours its central pressure dropped 52 mb to 924 mb by the afternoon of Oct. 25. Mitch continued to strengthen and central pressure reached a minimum of 905 mb about 40 miles southeast of Swan Island on the afternoon of Oct. 26. This pressure is the fourth lowest ever recorded in an Atlantic hurricane this century, tied with Hurricane Camille in 1969. This also represents the lowest pressure ever recorded for an October Hurricane in the Atlantic basin this century. At its peak intensity, Mitch's maximum one-minute sustained surface winds were estimated to be 180 mph – a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane scale.

After passing over Swan Island, Mitch began to gradually weaken on Oct. 27, while moving toward the Bay Islands off the Coast of Honduras. The center passed very near the Island of Guanaja and wreaked havoc there, as well as on the neighboring Island of Roatan.

From mid-day Oct. 27 to early on Oct. 29, the minimum central pressure rose 59 mb. The center of Hurricane Mitch meandered near the north coast of Honduras, then moving southward and inland, weakening to a tropical storm on Oct. 30. Mitch moved slowly over Honduras and Guatemala on Oct. 30 and 31, while gradually weakening to a tropical depression. Mitch generated torrential rains over portions of Honduras and Nicaragua where the associated floods were devastating. Some heavy rains also occurred in neighboring countries. Mitch weakened to a depression on Oct. 30 and continued to produce locally heavy rain over portions of Central America and Southeastern Mexico.


Nicole formed as a Tropical Storm with 40 mph winds on Nov. 23rd 760 miles east of La Palma in the Canary Islands moving slowly to the west. By Nov. 25th (5 a.m. 11/25/98) the storm had winds of 70 mph.