Speaking at the UN, the representative for Honduras, Hugo Noe-Pino, said the storm had put his country - where 5,000 people are confirmed dead and another 11,000 are missing - … The schooner, which was sailing near the center of the hurricane, experienced over 50 foot (15 m) waves and over 100 mph (160 km/h) winds, causing her to sink off the coast of Honduras. [20], High water levels along the Choluteca River affected the capital, Tegucigalpa,[20] reaching levels 10 m (33 ft) above their banks. [4], As an extratropical cyclone, Mitch passed west of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Overall, Hurricane Mitch caused an estimated $3.8 billion in damage, of which $2.005 billion was from direct damages and the remainder from indirect costs. As a result of the extreme damage and loss of life it caused, the name Mitch was retired from the Atlantic naming list by the World Meteorological Organization and will not be used for a future Atlantic hurricane. [11] The storm impacted 2,135 homes to some degree, of which 241 were destroyed,[14] leaving 4,000 homeless. Over 70 percent of the transportation infrastructure was damaged, mostly damaged highways and bridges. Deaths were mostly from flooding and mudslides in Central America, where the slow-moving hurricane and then tropical stormdropped nearly 36 inches (900 mm) of rain. [37] The flooding caused extensive crop damage and destroyed many roads. Across the country, flooding damaged or destroyed 840 miles (1350 km) of roads, of which nearly 400 miles (640 km) were sections of major highways. One house in Spanish Town collapsed from the flooding, leaving four homeless. The rainfall left 70% of the roads unusable or destroyed and greatly damaged 92 bridges. The rainfall also caused widespread mudslides across the mountainous country. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Hurricane Mitch is the second-deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record, causing over 11,000 fatalities in Central America in 1998, including approximately 7,000 in Honduras and 3,800 in Nicaragua due to catastrophic flooding from the slow motion of the storm. Nearly 11,000 people were confirmed dead, and almost as many reported missing. gr/mc The storm was the thirteenth tropical storm, ninth hurricane, and third major hurricane of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season. Getty Images/Getty Images High tide generated by Hurricane … Hurricane Mitch left widespread power outages after damaging more than 385 km (239 mi) of power lines and several power plants. Total transportation damage amounted to $300 million (1998 USD). Additionally, roughly 2.7 million were left homeless as a result of the hurricane. With a new, structurally improved foundation, homes were redesigned to be able to withstand another hurricane. Crops and fisheries were affected greatly as well, and, combined with agricultural losses, damage totaled to $185 million (1998 USD). The flooding damaged more than 10,000 houses, leaving around 84,000 homeless[15] and forcing 500,000 to evacuate. [19] An estimated 70–80% of transportation network was destroyed, including most bridges and secondary roads,[11] amounting to $236 million in damage. Despite this, the gross domestic product began decreasing at the end of 1998, and contracted by 1.9 percent in 1999. [36], In Belize, the hurricane was less severe than initially predicted, though Mitch still caused heavy rainfall across the country. Many other homes and buildings were flooded, forcing many to evacuate. In addition, the flooding destroyed two bridges and damaged 1,200 mi (1,900 km) of unpaved roads. [11] Across the country, Mitch's heavy rains damaged 17,600 houses and destroyed 23,900, displacing 368,300 of the population. Throughout Central America, which was recovering from an economic crisis that occurred in 1996, many wished to continue the growth of the infrastructure and economy. Mitch drifted through Central America, regenerated in the Bay of Campeche, and ultimately struck Florida as a strong tropical storm. The government of Belize issued a purple alert and asked for citizens on offshore islands to leave for the mainland. Updates? In all, Mitch caused nearly $400 million in damage (1998 USD) and 240 deaths. [47] The U.S. administration offered at first troops stationed in Honduras, and then withdrew them a few days after the storm. [18] In Costa Rica, reconstruction after the hurricane increased the number of jobs by 5.9%, lowering the unemployment rate slightly. There were outbreaks of various diseases, and many residents faced food and water shortages. There were over 1,357 cases of dengue reported, though no deaths were reported from the disease. After the disaster caused by Hurricane Mitch, countries around the world donated significant aid, totaling $6.3 billion (1998 USD). Eta tripled in strength in about 24 hours, rapidly intensifying from a 40 mph (65 kph) storm Sunday morning to a 120 mph (190 kph) hurricane around midday Monday, and continuing to gain power throughout the day. The storm reattained winds of 70 mph (110 km/h) before it made a final landfall near Naples, Florida on November 5. The flooding destroyed 37% of the bean production, 19% of the corn production, and 20% losses in sugar canes. A National Hurricane Centre archive report said more than 9,000 people died during Mitch, one of the deadliest Atlantic storms in history. [23] There were unofficial rainfall totals in Central America as high as 1,900 mm (75 in); rain gauges in mountainous areas were washed away. 450 cases of leptospirosis were reported in Nicaragua, killing seven people. It executed a small loop, and while doing so intensified into Tropical Storm Mitch. [40] In addition, Mitch caused moderate rainfall, peaking at 7 inches (200 mm) in Jupiter, though some estimates indicate localized totals of up to 10 inches (250 mm). [28], The situation was further compounded by a total of 75,000 live land mines—left over from the Contra insurgency of the 1980s—that were calculated to have been uprooted and relocated by the floodwaters. [4] Gusty winds left 100,000 without power during the storm's passage. An archival report from the National Hurricane Center said Mitch led to the deaths of more than 9,000 people. [7] After turning to the west, Mitch rapidly intensified, first into a major hurricane on October 25 and then into a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale the next day. Strong waves hit western Jamaica, with wave heights unofficially estimated at nearly 7 feet (2 m) in height. [11], On the Cayman Islands, the hurricane caused strong waves, gusty winds, and heavy rainfall at times. Mitch affected 115 sq. The death toll in Honduras from Hurricane Mitch has risen to almost 7,000 people, and another 11,000 are missing. [23] The rainfall collected in rivers, causing extensive river flooding across the country. A few days after Mitch, the well-liked mayor of Tegucigalpa was viewing the devastation when his helicopter crashed and he and several other high-level people died. The quantities of rain expected drew comparisons to 1998’s Hurricane Mitch, one of the most deadly Atlantic hurricanes in history. Hurricane Mitch, hurricane (tropical cyclone) that devastated Central America, particularly Honduras and Nicaragua, in late October 1998. [44], Following the passage of Mitch, disease outbreaks occurred throughout Central America, including cholera, leptospirosis, and dengue fever. Survivors talk about the impact of Hurricane Katrina, 10 years after the historic … It then became extratropical and accelerated northeastward across the North Atlantic, before dissipating on November 9. Hurricane Mitch, hurricane (tropical cyclone) that devastated Central America, particularly Honduras and Nicaragua, in late October 1998. The President of Honduras estimated that Mitch set back 50 years of economic development. In addition, the flooding destroyed 27 schools and damaged 286 others, 175 severely. In 1999 the name Mitch was retired for hurricanes by the World Meteorological Organization. The thirteenth named storm, ninth hurricane, and third major hurricane of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, Mitch formed in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22, and after drifting through extremely favorable conditions, it rapidly strengthened to peak at Category 5 status, the highest possible rating on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. The winds knocked down trees and power lines, leaving over 30,000 homes without power. A National Hurricane Centre archive report said more than 9,000 people died during Mitch, one of the deadliest Atlantic storms in history. [11], Two million people in Nicaragua were directly affected by the hurricane. A weakness in a ridge allowed the storm to track slowly to the north. [5][6] It became a hurricane on October 24 and developed an eye. Another notable storm whose name…. Agricultural losses were significant, including the deaths of 50,000 animals, mostly bovines. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Nearly 11,000 people were confirmed dead, and almost as many reported missing. Since Tuesday, November 3, Hurricane Eta made landfall on the Nicaraguan coast, creating a drama of great proportions for the neighboring country, Honduras. Initially, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and various tropical cyclone forecast models anticipated a turn to the north, threatening the Yucatán peninsula. Omissions? After becoming disorganized due to wind shear from an upper-level low, Mitch quickly intensified in response to favorable conditions,[4] including warm waters and good outflow. However, the hurricane's upwelling cooled the warm water temperatures, preventing significant bleaching and destruction of the coral reef. [11] In all, Mitch caused $40 million in damage (1998 USD) in Florida and two deaths from drowning when two boats capsized. The flooding destroyed 6,000 houses and damaged 20,000 others, displacing over 730,000 and forcing over 100,000 to evacuate. [45], While stalling over the western Caribbean Sea, Mitch's strong winds produced strong waves, damaging local coral reefs. [11] The maximum 24-hour rainfall total from Mitch was 13.4 inches (340 mm) in Campeche,[38] while the highest rainfall total was 16.85 inches (428.0 mm) in Ciudad del Carmen. [36] Nine people were killed from the flooding, though damage was relatively minimal. Corrections? The overall impact represented about 70% of Honduras's annual gross domestic product (GDP). [4], Due to the threat, the government of Honduras evacuated some of the 45,000 citizens on the Bay Islands and prepared all air and naval resources. The greatest depth recorded was 12.5 m (41 ft) on the Ulúa River near Chinda, whilst the greatest width recorded was 359 m (1,178 ft) on the Río Lean near Arizona. [11] In some places, as much as 25 inches (630 mm) of rain fell on coastal areas. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Damage to plantations and soil totaled to $121 million (1998 USD). With millions left homeless and property damage of roughly $6 billion, it was also one of the most destructive. The NHC tracked this storm until November 9, when former Hurricane Mitch passed north of Scotland. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/event/Hurricane-Mitch. It reached its peak wind speed of 180 miles (290 km) per hour off the northeastern coast of Honduras on October 26 and 27, when it dumped heavy rain on much of Central America, particularly on Honduras and Nicaragua. [23] Overall, Hurricane Mitch killed about 7,000 people in Honduras,[23] and damage was estimated at L52,345,000,000 ($3.8 billion),[20] of which $2.005 billion was from direct damages and the remainder from indirect costs. In all, Hurricane Mitch caused $92 million in damage (1998 USD)[14] and seven deaths. Floods in the city damaged buildings that were over 350 years old. Guatemala was most affected by the bacterium, where most of the deaths occurred from contaminated food. [25], Hurricane Mitch wrought significant damage to Honduras, affecting nearly the entire population and causing damage in all 18 departments. The next day, the remnants of Mitch reached the Bay of Campeche. The overall impact represented about 70% of Honduras's annual gross domestic product (GDP). [11], In Costa Rica, Mitch dropped heavy rains, causing flash flooding and mudslides across the country, mostly in the northeastern part of the country. [39], Then a tropical storm, Mitch caused a storm surge of up to 4 feet (1.2 m) in the lower Florida Keys before making landfall on the Florida west coast. [36] Numerous rivers exceeded their crests, though the rainfall was beneficial to trees in mountainous areas. [11], While drifting through El Salvador, the hurricane dropped immense amounts of precipitation, resulting in flash flooding and mudslides through the country. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. Deaths due to catastrophic flooding made it the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history after the Great Hurricane of 1780; at least 11,374 people were confirmed to have been killed with over 11,000 left missing by the end of 1998; the true death toll may never be known. [28], Transportation was greatly affected by the hurricane, as well. In Honduras, much of the country is on red alert for Eta. In Ireland, the storm produced gusts as high as 90 mph (140 km/h) and 30 ft (9.1 m) waves. In addition, Mitch is the eighth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, tied with Hurricane Dean in 2007 in terms of pressure. Hurricane Mitch was recognized as the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record, after the Great Hurricane of 1780. [22], While moving slowly for several days offshore Honduras, Hurricane Mitch drew moisture from the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, producing high amounts of rainfall of over 300 mm (12 in) per day. [9] The surface circulation dissipated on November 1. An archival report from the National Hurricane Center said Mitch led to the deaths of more than 9,000 people. A river in northeastern Jamaica overflowed its banks, while heavy rainfall across the mountainous parts of the country caused numerous mudslides. The rainfall in outer rainbands, at times severe, flooded many roads across the island and left them covered with debris. [26] Throughout the country, the rainfall and mudslides affected 126 bridges and 800 miles (1,300 km) or roads, mostly on the Inter-American Highway which was affected by Hurricane Cesar, two years prior. The story was recorded in the book The Ship and The Storm by Jim Carrier. Following the storm, officials in Honduras requested international assistance, which totaled $2.8 billion over a several year period. Hurricane Mitch was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since the Great Hurricane of 1780, displacing the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 as the second-deadliest on record. [19] Most of the Bay Islands had damage to their water facilities. As the death toll climbed steadily toward 11,000 across devastated parts of Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, Mitch became the most destructive Atlantic storm since The Great Hurricane of 1780, blamed for 22,000 deaths in the eastern Caribbean. Sewage systems and the electricity subsector were severely damaged, and, combined with property, damage totaled to $300 million (1998 USD). The countries' appeals come as the numbers of those who died at the hands of Hurricane Mitch continues to rise. [42] The name was replaced with the name Matthew which was used during the 2004 season (the name would later itself be retired after the 2016 season). Due to rapid deforestation over the past half century, the country now is more vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding than ever before. Mitch directly caused $2.005 billion in damage,[nb 1] with an additional $1.8 billion in indirect costs. Strong waves damaged or destroyed many docks on the south shore of the islands, and also sank one dive ship near Grand Cayman. Known as the Great Hurricane of 1780, it is among the deadliest storms ever recorded. Hurricane Mitch produced incredible rainfall, which caused widespread flooding and generated many landslides, predominantly in Honduras and Nicaragua. Eta tripled in strength in about 24 hours, rapidly intensifying from a 40 mph (65 kph) storm Sunday morning to a 120 mph (190 kph) hurricane around midday Monday, and continuing to gain power throughout the day. However, two earthflows caused significant damage near Tegucigalpa. [34], Due to Mitch's large circulation, it dropped heavy precipitation as far south as Panama and Colombia, especially in the Darién and Chiriquí provinces. Total damages caused by the hurricane were estimated to be around $6 billion (1998 USD). [11] Honduras's Social Fund for Housing estimated that 35,000 houses nationwide were destroyed with another 50,000 damaged,[20] leaving 1.5 million people homeless – about 20% of the total population. The floods, mud slides, and wind damaged Honduras’s entire infrastructure, ruined its agricultural crops, and demolished population centres throughout the country. Hurricane Mitch was the most powerful storm of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season.Hurricane Mitch was one of the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.Mitch was the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane because it killed 11,000-18,000 in Central America and Mexico, it is second only to the Great Hurricane of 1780.Mitch also caused over $5 billion in damage. The storm caused airports to close and ferry service to be suspended.[41]. In all, Hurricane Mitch caused $748 million (1998 USD) and 268 deaths in Guatemala. [31], On the south coast of Cuba, the hurricane caused waves of up to 13 feet (4 m) high and winds gusts peaking at 42 mph (67 km/h), causing numerous tourists and workers on the Isle of Youth and Cayo Largo del Sur to leave for safer grounds. Mitch made landfall in northern Honduras on October 29 and then moved slowly inland while continuing to produce tremendous amounts of rain. When Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in October 1998, 15,000 people died and a million were left homeless in underdeveloped Honduras, the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere. [19], Though Mitch never entered Nicaragua, its large circulation caused extensive rainfall, with estimates of over 50 inches (1,300 mm). In Dublin, high winds knocked the roof off of a building, and several other buildings nationwide were damaged. Hurricane Mitch was the most powerful storm of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season.Hurricane Mitch was one of the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.Mitch was the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane because it killed 11,000-18,000 in Central America and Mexico, it is second only to the Great Hurricane of 1780.Mitch also caused over $5 billion in damage. The flooding and mudslides damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes, with total damage amounting to over $5 billion (1998 USD, $6 billion 2006 USD), most of which was in Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico quickly gave help, sending 700 tons of food, 11 tons of medicine, four rescue planes, rescue personnel, and trained search dogs. Deaths were mostly from flooding and mudslides in Central America, where the slow-moving hurricane and then tropical storm dropped nearly 36 inches (900 mm) of rain. [36] Crop damage was severe, with serious flooding occurring on 386 sq. [35] The hurricane left three casualties in Panama. The storm spawned five tornadoes over the state, the strongest of which was rated F2. miles (1000 km2) of pasture or crop land. The storm killed more than 11,000 people (mostly in Honduras and Nicaragua, but also in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and Costa Rica), and thousands more were missing afterward. Key West International Airport reported peak wind gusts of 55 mph (89 km/h) and sustained winds of 40 mph (64 km/h), the only report of tropical storm force in the state. In addition, after witnessing the vulnerability to hurricanes, the affected governments endeavored to prevent such a disaster from occurring again. [11] The highest official total was 928 mm (36.5 in) at Choluteca, which represented more than half of the annual precipitation average; at the same location, 466.7 mm (18.37 in) fell in a 24-hour period on October 31, which was more than double of the previous record set in 1985. Hurricane Mitch 22 October - 05 November 1998 John L. Guiney and Miles B. Lawrence National Hurricane Center 28 January 1999 Best track revised 4 May 2000 Mitch is responsible for over nine thousand deaths predominately from rain-induced flooding in portions of Central America, mainly in Honduras and Nicaragua. Due to the slow motion from October 29 to November 3, Hurricane Mitch dropped historic amounts of rainfall in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, with unofficial reports of up to 75 inches (1,900 mm). At the time, Mitch was the strongest Atlantic hurricane observed in the month of October, though it has since been surpassed by Hurricane Wilma of the 2005 season. [11] Guatemala issued a purple alert as well, recommending boats to stay in port, telling people to prepare or seek shelter, and warning of potential overflowing rivers. EFE-EPA. [4] Offshore, the Fowey Rocks Light reported wind gusts of 73 mph (117 km/h). Throughout the entire country, the hurricane left between 500,000 and 800,000 homeless. As Hurricane Mitch tore across Central America, the most deadly Atlantic storm in two centuries left a trail of destruction in its wake. Parts of Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador were also devastated, with hundreds of thousands of homes obliterated, residents swept away, and crops wiped out. [43] In addition, the country initially experienced a sharp increase in the unemployment rate, largely due to the destruction of crop lands. [12], Hurricane Mitch was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since the Great Hurricane of 1780, displacing the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 as the second-deadliest on record. Being "the deadliest Atlantic hurricane" in over 200 years,[1] Mitch caused catastrophic impacts across its path, but the most disastrous impacts came from Honduras, which suffered over half of the total deaths. [48] The Honduran government distributed food, water, and medical services to the hurricane victims, including the more than 4 million without water. Later, the storm's immense rainfall led to runoff polluted with debris and fresh water. Hurricane Mitch causes and effects of this natural disaster After being upgraded to a hurricane on October 24, Mitch entered a period of rapid intensification, and, by the afternoon of October 26, it had grown into a category 5 hurricane—the highest rating on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. With millions left homeless and property damage of roughly $6 billion, it was also one of the most destructive. [11] Across Honduras, agriculture sustained serious damage, with initial estimates of 70% of crops destroyed. An archival report from the National Hurricane Center said Mitch led to the deaths of more than 9,000 people. Cuba also volunteered, sending a contingent of physicians to the country. No final international death toll has been established due to the extensive damage, but at least 11,000 people were killed and 9,191 more were missing. It was the deadliest hurricane in Central American history, surpassing Hurricane Fifi–Orlene, which killed slightly fewer people there in 1974. [24] In the country's interior, particularly the southern portion, the high rainfall caused hundreds of landslides, many of them shallow and about 95% in the form of debris flow. miles (300 km2) of crop lands, causing damage to both export and domestic crops.
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