NWDHurricanesHurricane Gilbert: The Worst Hurricane of the 20th Century in the Atlantic

Hurricane Gilbert: The Worst Hurricane of the 20th Century in the Atlantic

hurricane gilbert

Climatic History of Hurricane Gilbert 1988: Origins and Development

Hurricane Gilbert is a very severe hurricane that formed on September 8, 1988, during the tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic Basin. Hurricane Gilbert facts are usually surprising, sometimes called the natural record for destruction of the last century. In the 80s of the 20th century, Gilbert was a powerful destroyer with a high intensity tropical cyclone on land in the Atlantic, thereby overtaking Hurricane Camille in 1968. It was also considered the largest hurricane in the ocean (the largest diameter was 946 km) and had this status for a long time until Hurricane Wilma came to the Atlantic in 2005. Hurricane refers to hurricanes of the “Cabo Verde” type (formed when tropical waves exit from continental Africa to the Atlantic Ocean). Hurricane Gilbert category 5th. The hurricane reached category 5 on the island of Jamaica. Category 5th is the highest category of the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. Alas, this means catastrophic damage will occur. The hurricane ended on September 19. In 10 days of the disaster, the hurricane spread to 10 populated regions, causing colossal losses.


Researchers, especially historians, have always found it easy to answer the question in what year was Hurricane Gilbert, but there were problems with the date. In this they were helped by meteorologists. They found that the hurricane began to form as early as September 3, 1988, when the eastern tropical wave was moving east-west from Africa. Until September 7, scientists had issues with satellites, on September 8, meteorologists were able to see the approach of circulating air masses near the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. The study was conducted by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), which classified the hurricane as the wave of the twelfth tropical depression. The wave reached Barbados and there turned into a real hurricane. A tropical storm in the east of the Caribbean also helped create the hurricane.


hurricane gilbert path

Hurricane Gilbert path was long enough. A map compiled by the National Hurricane Center shows the path began at Lake Michigan and ended in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South America. From September 10, Gilbert fortified and moved from west to northwest. On September 11, the hurricane approached the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In the same place, he moved to the 3rd category. Researchers classified it as a major hurricane with sustained winds (125 mph). He hooked on the Lesser Antilles. There, Gilbert was classified as a tropical storm. The next day, the hurricane smoothly passed into the 5th category. The moment of maximum force was recorded in Jamaica, where the wind reached a one-minute stability of 185 mph. Also, Gilbert at one time became the record holder, having reached the lowest atmospheric pressure in the entire Western Hemisphere of the planet (26.22 inHg). After the disaster in Jamaica, the hurricane weakened a little, but still remained in the 5th category.

Hurricane Gilbert struck Cozumel Island and the Yucatán Peninsula near Mexico three times. The minimum pressure on the island of Cozumel was 26.6 inHg and the wind resistance was estimated at 160 mph. On September 15-16, the hurricane finally entered the Gulf of Mexico. He has weakened enough, moving into the 2nd category. The next destruction Gilbert inflicted in the small town of La Pesca, which is located in Mexico. Then he suddenly returned to Category 3. On September 17, the hurricane turned north, but before that struck Monterrey. On September 17, the hurricane turned north, but before that struck Monterrey. Despite the delay, the hurricane caused a severe tornado in the state of Texas. And finally, on September 19, the hurricane engulfed a low pressure zone near Missouri. Gilbert ended his path where he began, at Lake Michigan. Consequently, Hurricane Gilbert has come a long way, which brought a lot of material destruction, human injury and death, natural destruction.

Hurricane Gilbert, Jamaica: How Was It?

The facts about Hurricane Gilbert in Jamaica have always horrified people. The older generation, who felt the disaster themselves, are still afraid to remember it, forbidding children to ask questions. For example, «how was it?», «what year did Hurricane Gilbert hit Jamaica?», «how many people were injured then?», and others. Prime Minister Edward Seaga, when he saw the situation in Jamaica after the hurricane, said: «The cities of Jamaica look like Hiroshima after the atomic bomb exploded». Indeed, Hurricane Gilbert Jamaica pictures are alarming. We see only destruction, disasters, numerous deaths and injuries.

Fortunately, there was no tornado in Jamaica, but there was a violent storm, which caused flooding in several areas of the island. According to official statistics, 45 people died during the storm in Jamaica, according to unofficial data, less than 30 people. And more than 200 people were seriously injured. The people had nowhere, as the wind blew away all the houses (about 100 thousand residential buildings were damaged) and public buildings. Reconnaissance flights were conducted that calculated destroyed buildings (more than 80% of houses were left without roofs) and death.

When the hurricane hit the capital of Jamaica, Kingston, the wind blew away power lines and communications. At that time, the satellites didn’t show any information. Also, not a single plane could take off from Kingston. That is why the researchers found it difficult to accurately answer the question, “When did Hurricane Gilbert hit Jamaica?”. Presumably it happened on 10 or 13 September. The hurricane was 40 miles in diameter.

The hurricane destroyed many agricultural seasonal activities, such as harvesting bananas and cotton. A lot of chickens also died. Because of this, there was a food problem on the island for about a month. The transport system suspended work for some time as the roads and main highways connecting the capital with other influential centers were damaged.

In general, Hurricane Gilbert in Jamaica has forever left its mark on the history of natural disasters in Jamaica and around the world. The population of the island must always be ready for such destruction, because a person cannot resist nature in any way.

Consequences of Hurricane Gilbert

hurricane gilbert track

The Hurricane Gilbert track was very difficult for both the people and the governments of the affected countries. The total damage to countries for 1988 was $7.1 billion. People have lost their homes, jobs, opportunities to move around the street without hindrance, for example, to a store. Homes, public buildings, highways and roads, power lines and communications demanded restoration. We all understand that a natural disaster is irreparable and entails great material losses, but we should not forget about people, both living and dead. Someone only remembers the big news headlines: “Destructive Hurricane Gilbert in Haiti”, “Hurricane Gilbert reaches Jamaica” and so on.

Someone under the word “Gilbert” simply represents their neighbor or friend. Researchers see only information from foreign reference books: “Huracan Gilberto en Monterrey 1988”, “Hurrikan Gilbert auf Jamaika”, “l’ouragan Gilbert en République Dominicaine 1988” and others. Many people have lost relatives or even their entire family, lost friends and acquaintances. Likewise, people have lost their lives. In total, 341 people died. And 433 more people died from injuries. Therefore, you need to be always ready for natural hazards in order to be able to save yourself and others.

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