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Keith - 2000
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HURRICANE KEITH

keith.jpg
Powerful Hurricane Keith Before Landfall in Belize

On September 16, a tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa into the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The wave showed few signs of organization over the Atlantic due to strong vertical shear which prevented any significant development. The wave entered the Caribbean Sea on September 26, and began to organize more quickly on September 27 before becoming Tropical Depression Fifteen about 60 miles north of Cape Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua on the 28th. The depression inched toward the west-northwest and became Tropical Storm Keith the next day. Keith was in a highly favorable area for development, and the storm began to rapidly intensify.

The storm became a hurricane on September 30, and the pressure fell from 982 mbar to 939 mbar in about 18 hours, and Keith reached a peak intensity with winds of 140 mph, making the storm a Category 4 just off the coast of Belize. Keith began to weaken immediately after reaching this intensity as it moved closer to Belize, and the storm was a Category 3 when it moved over Ambergris Cay Island on October 1, which is just off the coast of Belize. The hurricane slowed even more as it weakened on October 3, due to a high pressure in the Gulf of Mexico which was blocking its path and a tropical disturbance to its east that would later become Leslie. Keith finally made landfall in Belize near Belize City on October 3, after weakening to a tropical storm. After the storm moved inland, it quickly weakened to a depression before accelerating to the WNW and re-emerging in the Gulf of Mexico on October 4 where it re-intensified to a tropical storm.

Keith regained hurricane status on October 5 and reached a peak intensity of 90 mph winds as it made landfall about 20 miles north of Tampico, Mexico on the 5th. The storm weakened quickly over land and dissipated later that day over northern Mexico. A total of 24 deaths were reported due to Keith: 5 in Belize, 12 in Nicaragua, 6 in Honduras, and 1 in Mexico. Most of the deaths were due to flooding from the relentless heavy rains, with the exception of a plane that went missing during the storm in Honduras which killed five. The total damages from the storm are estimated at 225 million dollars in Belize. No damage figures are available for the landfall in Mexico.

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