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Luis - 1995
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HURRICANE LUIS

luis95.jpg
Hurricane Luis

A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on August 26, and moved west through the eastern Atlantic over the next few days. The wave developed a closed circulation on August 27 near the Cape Verde Islands, and became Tropical Depression Thirteen that day. The depression moved to the WSW for the next day and slowly strengthened into Tropical Storm Luis by August 28. Luis picked up speed to the WNW on the 29th, and gradually strengthened in wind intensity, while the pressure fluctuated around 1000 mbar. When the storm became a hurricane on August 30, the pressure was unusually high – 1002 mbar. This changed shortly though, as Luis began a cycle of rapid intensification the following day, which dropped the pressure to 948 mbar by late on the first of September, when the winds were at 135 mph, making the storm a powerful Category 4 hurricane. The eye of Luis was very large and clear during the next few days, and a large outflow was observed. The strengthening came to an end for the time later on the 1st, and winds would remain at 135 for the next two days, as the pressure did the same. Luis’ path adjusted more to the west on September 3, and another cycle of strengthening began, although more suttle. The hurricane reached its peak wind speed of 140 mph on that day, while the pressure would still continue to fall. As Luis moved closer to the Lesser Antilles, it began to swoop to the northwest, but not before it began to pound the islands with high winds by September 4. The 135-mph storm with a 40-mile wide eye moved directly over Barbuda and the southern eye wall struck the islands of Antigua, St. Barthelemy, St. Martin and Anguilla. As stated before Luis was a very large hurricane, and even distant islands such as St. Kitts and Nevis experienced hurricane fore winds, along with the northern British Virgin Islands. After wreaking havoc over the northern Antilles, the storm accelerated to the northwest and weakened to a Category 3. It stalled briefly on September 8 and weakened to a Category 2 before being picked up by a frontal system and accelerating northeast the next day. The hurricane passed within 200 miles of Bermuda on September 9 as a Cat 2, and went on to become extratropical by September 11, as it moved over Newfoundland. Luis had a devastating effect on the northern Lesser Antilles. A total of 17 people were killed; nine in St. Martin, three in Antigua and Barbuda, and other deaths in Puerto Rico, Dominica, and Guadeloupe. Damage estimates are very uncertain, with the island of St. Martin alone reporting 1.8 Billion in damages. With great uncertainty, the total damage estimate for Hurricane Luis is set at 2.5 billion U.S. dollars. The name Luis was retired in the spring of 1996, and was replaced with Lorenzo when the list was used again in 2001.

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