CYCLONE SEASON OF 1999 ON THE NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN
Hurricanes continue to be for many meteorologists and for a great deal of the population that inhabits within the tropical belt, the most fascinating meteorological phenomenon. If someone asked, Why this interest in tropical cyclones if, after all, they are phenomena of scarce occurrence? There is no doubt that an important part of the answer would be related to the huge impact these events have on human life and the many activities of ordinary life.
Tropical cyclones have always been one of the first causes of death and economic loss amongst all natural disasters. Statistics made public by the United Nations show that the death toll due to these organisms rose to 500,000 between 1947 and 1980, an amount that makes it classify as the first among ten kinds of natural disasters.
Taking a fast glance to the ending century on the Atlantic basin, it shows that since the very beginning tropical cyclones left a deep print of pain and destruction. Some examples are the Galveston Hurricane, that caused 6,000 death in 1900 and the intense hurricane of November 9th 1932 that swept the town of Santa Cruz del Sur in Cuba, causing over 3,000 death by the associated storm surge. On the other hand, rainfall from hurricane Fifi, on September 1974, caused some 5,000 death on Central America. This area suffered again the strike of Hurricane Mitch on October 1998, which caused about 11,000 death and economic damages that might take some 50 years to recover.
The greatest loss due to a hurricane was caused by Andrew on August 1992, it reached more than 25 billions and was mainly consequence of the strong winds of this intense hurricane.
The former examples suggest the need to increase both the knowledge of the population about tropical cyclones and the accuracy of forecasts, since only with an adequate preparation, human loses and damage caused by hurricanes can be mitigated.
In this paper the main characteristics of the 1999 cyclone season on the Atlantic basin, which stood out for being an active one, are presented. As main sources of information, images from the geostationary satellite GOES-8, surface and upper air observations and reconnaissance aircraft reports, in addition to bulletins issued by the Forecast Department of the Institute of Meteorology and Advisories from the National Hurricane Center of the United States were used. The analysis of Irene over Cuba also included meteorological radar images from stations placed at La Bajada, Punta del Este and Casablanca as well as information from stations and Province Meteorological Centers. Observations carried out by amateur meteorologists were also taken into account in this study.
Main characteristics of the 1999 cyclone season