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Chantal - 2001
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TROPICAL STORM CHANTAL

chantal.jpg
Tropical Storm Chantal in the Caribbean

A tropical wave entered the far eastern atlantic after crossing the coast of Africa on August 11. A low level circulation developed on August 13, and it was strong and organized enough to become Tropical Depression Four on August 14. South of a strong subtropical ridge, the depression was forced west at a rapid pace. The depression did not strengthen or organize for the next 36 hours due to intense wind shear and other unfavorable factors, and it lost its closed circulation on August 16 and weakened to a tropical wave. The wave raced through the windward islands on August 17, and tropical storm force winds were reported in the island of Martinique. The wave slowed and expanded its convection after passing through the islands, and hence it was classified as Tropical Storm Chantal when it was found that a closed circulation had redeveloped about 250 miles south of St. Croix. The pressure dropped and the winds increased to 65 mph on August 18, before the storm weakened slightly due to another burst in forward speed. This was followed shortly by another session of slowing and strengthening, increasing the winds to 70 mph, making the storm a borderline tropical storm/hurricane as the storm was about 160 miles south of Jamaica.

Chantal became disorganized again on August 19, and the pressure began to rise sharply, as high as 1008 mbar. Despite the rising pressure, Chantal maintained 50-60 mph winds through the ordeal, and began to organize again on August 20 as the storm approached the Yucatan Peninsula. The storm slowed down as it approached the peninsula and made landfall near the border of Belize and Mexico with winds of 70 mph and a pressure of 999 mbar. Chantal moved very slowly after landfall, and inched its way west as it gradually weakened to a depression on August 22, and dissipating later that day. No deaths were reported due to Chantal, and damage estimates are around 4 million in Belize, primarily due to agricultural losses. About 8,000 people were evacuated in total, mainly from islands offshore.

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