Review of the past hurricane season

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23 TO 28 APRIL 2008

RA IV/HC-XXX/Doc. 4, ADD.2




Original: SPANISH


(Submitted by Cuba)
Cuba was affected by Tropical Storm Noel, causing intense and persistent rains in the Cuban Eastern provinces, as well as abundant damages to the Cuban society and economy. Another tropical cyclones that indirectly affected the Country were: Barry, during his genesis stage, caused intense rains at several localities in the Western half of Cuba; Hurricane Dean, which in his track through the Caribbean produced coastal flooding at the lowest sites on the Cuban Southern coast. The last tropical cyclones of the season, Tropical Storm Olga caused very little affectation to Cuba. A brief summary of these tropical cyclones in Cuba follows in next paragraphs.


May 31 - June 2
Rain bands related to Barry in his formative stage caused intense rainfall in Western and Central Cuba from May 31 to June 2. Rain accumulation in a 24 hour period was in excess of 250 millimeters at Pinar del Rio and Sancti-Spiritus provinces. Two tornados were reported June 1st; one in rural areas of Pinar del Rio and another at Playa Girón, Matanzas.

August 19 - 20
Convective rain bands associated with Dean influenced on Cuba on 19 and 20 August. Heavy rains fell in some localities of the Eastern provinces, with 105.1 mm reported in Felton, Holguín. Winds were not significant. A gust of 80 km/h was reported in Cabo Cruz, Granma, while a 100 km/h gust was reported at the mountain station of La Gran Piedra, in Santiago de Cuba. Due to a large pressure gradient established by the presence of the hurricane on the Caribbean and the subtropical anticyclone's periphery, strong winds were produced at some localities between 70 and 85 km/h from the provinces of Holguin to Camaguey on August 19. Gusts from 65 to 100 km/h were reported by some stations in Western Cuba on August 20.
Dean's main affectation to Cuba was the strong sea swells along the Southern coast. They produced coastal flooding in the highway from Guantánamo to Baracoa, at the locality of Yateritas, Guantánamo. In Santiago de Cuba, swells of 3,5 meters high provoked coastal flooding at the municipality of Guamá, where stretches of the road were totally destroyed, as well as houses and seven business facilities. In Cabo Cruz, Granma, the maximum height attained by swells was 5 meters, with flooding going up to 30 meters from the coastline. In Cienfuegos, swells went up to 4 meters high; and up to 2 meters in the Isle of Youth, where the flooding went up to 50 meters from the coast in Punta del Este. In Pinar del Río province, the coastal flooding was minor, reaching 30 meters from the shoreline at some points near the Western tip of Cuba.


August 31 - September 5
Sea Swells originated by the crossing of Felix South of Cuba provoked coastal flooding along the coast in the province of Santiago de Cuba. The sea flooded up to 50 to 100 meters from the coastline, with severe damage to the highway alongside the coast, as well as to building facilities.

October 30 - November 2
The center of Tropical Storm Noel was located south of a ridge of high pressure at medium levels of the troposphere in the Western Atlantic. This fact made the storm to head West, making landfall near the Cabo Lucrecia meteorological station, in the Northern coast of the province of Holguin, on October 30. Maximum sustained winds were 95 km/h and central pressure 997 hPa. The storm center moved inland, diminishing in intensity gradually, and that very day in the afternoon, Noel was a weak and minimal Tropical Storm. On November 31, early in the morning, the storm center was drifting over Cayo Coco, Ciego de Avila, with Maximum Sustained Winds of 85 km/h. In the evening of November 31, Noel was already moving North-Northeastward, moving away from Cuban coasts and increasing his intensity over open waters.
The main affectations made by Noel in Cuba were the intense and prolonged rains over the Cuban Eastern provinces, where the ground was already saturated because of rainy events held in late September and early October. The areas of intense, torrential rains that were located to the East and far from the storm center, moved inland and provoked large flooding over low lands, where rivers were over flown from 29 to 31 October. Rain accumulations between 150 and 260 mm were common over areas of Eastern Cuba. Torrential rains continued on November 1 and 2 when Noel was already away as a hurricane in the Atlantic, because of the though induced by Noel to the South, over Eastern Cuba, and the flow of humidity coming from the Caribbean. These rains added additional amounts of 100 to 200 mm of rain over the Eastern Cuban region.
Early Warnings made by our meteorologists from 2-3 days before the beginning of these rains, prevented the loss of lives and loss of properties. Attention was centered on the rain areas and not on the center of the Tropical Storm. This proved to be very effective, because people did not mind or asked where the center of circulation was located or where it was moving to, but on where were the rain areas going to affect.
The very heavy and torrential rains associated with Noel were the worst occurred in Cuba from Hurricane Flora in 1963 when 1 150 people were dead. In the case of Noel, more than 80 000 people were evacuated; 22 000 houses were damaged or destroyed and over 13 000 kilometers of roads were damaged. Other damages to infrastructure were the ones related to the drainage systems, bridges and power lines. Damage to property were estimated in $500 million US dollars, of which $305 millions were in the agricultural sector. However, there were no casualties directly related to Noel in Cuba, but one death unfortunately occurred when the rain event was already finished, because a person carelessly tried to cross an overflown river.


December 12 – 13
The center of the late season Tropical Storm Olga was located some 135 kilometers South of Punta de Maisí, Guantánamo, lacking deep convection, at 7:00 am December 12. The center was still identifiable that afternoon in satellite imagery as well as in the meteorological radar installed in Pilón, Granma province, but winds were below Tropical Storm force, so it was downgraded when crossing the Colón Strait, South of Eastern Cuba. The remnant low was tracked over the Western Caribbean December 13 and 14.
Olga did not affect directly the Cuban territory, but his periphery influenced with some rains in the province of Guantánamo and Holguín, locally heavy at some mountainous points. The pressure gradient established by Olga and a ridge of high pressure produced winds with gusts of 60 km/h in Holguín, with 74 km/h at Velazco. Punta de Maisí, Guantánamo, reported a maximum gust of 80 km/h. These winds caused coastal flooding at the lowest shorelines of these provinces. At Baracoa's City, they provoked the closing of the seaside avenue and partial and total affectations at housings. The strong sea swells caused coastal floodings in zones of Banes, Rafael Freyre and Gibara municipalities. In Cabo Lucrecia swells got up to 3.5 to 5.5 meters high.

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