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Hurricane Hut

Cesar - 1996
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Hurricane Cesar Closes in on Nicaragua

A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on July 17, and moved across the eastern Atlantic Ocean with little development. The wave began to organize slowly as it neared closer to the Lesser Antilles on July 22, and a circulation developed on July 24 when the storm crossed over Trinidad and Tobago. It became Tropical Depression Three later that day. The depression moved westward at a fairly brisk pace through the eastern Caribbean, and organized into Tropical Storm Cesar on July 25 while near Curacao, Venezuela. A strong area of high pressure to the north of Cesar kept the storm on a very westward path, and sometimes even a bit south-southwest; and this brought the storm very near the northern tip of South America. The storm scraped the extreme northern regions of Venezuela and Colombia late on the 25th and early on the 26th as a tropical storm with winds of about 45 - 50 mph. This interaction with land limited the development of the storm for a short time, but after passing away from the landmass, Cesar was allowed to strengthen. The storm became a hurricane in the open waters of the southwestern Caribbean on July 27, and the storm strengthened a bit more before it made landfall near Bluefields, Nicaragua on July 28 with winds registered at 85 mph and a pressure of 985 mbar. Hurricane Cesar weakened quickly over land, but not quick enough, as the storm remained a tropical storm until it crossed into the Eastern Pacific Basin, where it was renamed Hurricane Douglas; which is only the sixth time in recorded history that such an event has occurred. Douglas went on to become a powerful Category 4 hurricane before dissipating on August 5. Hurricane Cesar killed a total of 51 people in the Caribbean, quite high for a storm of its intensity. More than half of those deaths occurred in Costa Rica, where the storm did not strike, but the rainfall triggered mudslides that killed many. The rest of the deaths were mostly due to flash floods and mudslides. Due to the extent of the deaths, and possibly the uniqueness of the storm, the name Cesar was retired in the spring of 1997 and was replaced by Cristobal when the list was used again in the 2002 season.