Hurricane Bret was the second named storm, the first hurricane, and the first major hurricane of the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season. Bret formed in the Bay of Campeche on August 18, moved northward, then northwestward after forming, reaching its peak of 145 mph winds over the western Gulf of Mexico before making landfall near Padre Island, Texas, as a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds on August 23. Bret was the first major hurricane to hit Texas since Hurricane Alicia of 1983. Because Bret hit in a relatively unpopulated area, it was not retired.
Bret caused $60,000,000 (1999 USD) in damage, a very low amount of a Category 3 hurricane. Bret killed 4 people indirectly.
|Formation||August 18, 1999|
|Dissipation||August 25, 1999|
|Highest winds||145 mph|
|Lowest pressure||944 mbar|
|Deaths||0 direct, 4 indirect|
|Damages||$60,000,000 (1999 USD)|
|Areas affected||Texas, Mexico|
A tropical wave exited the African coast on August 5. It moved west across the shear-ridden Atlantic Ocean, barely discernable at times. On August 15, when the wave entered the western Carribean Sea, it interacted with an upper-level low, leading to an increase in convection. It drifted northwestward into the Bay of Campeche, and developed a surface low on the morning of August 18. Later that day, it became Tropical Depression Three. The depression was initially unorganized due to strong vertical wind shear caused by an upper-level trough over the extreme western Gulf of Mexico. However, shear abated as the trough receded, and favorable conditions allowed the depression to strengthen into Tropical Storm Bret late on August 19. On August 20, an eye-like feature developed within Bret, a rarity for tropical storms. This allowed Bret's inner core to develop greatly, which in turn allowed Bret to continue strengthening as it moved northward over the western Gulf of Mexico. As Bret paralleled the Mexican coastline, it continued to strengthen, and with its compact size, attained hurricane status on August 21. Through the night of August 21 and into the morning of August 22, Bret rapidly intensified and reached its peak of 145 mph winds and a pressure of 944 on August 22 mb, a Category 4 hurricane.
A mid-tropospheric ridge over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico forced Bret to the northwest, where land interaction began to weaken the hurricane. Bret made landfall as a 115 mph Category 3 hurricane near Padre Island, Texas on August 23. This is a relatively unpopulated area of Texas, so fortunately, Bret didn't cause very much damage. Bret quickly weakened after landfall, and it was only a tropical depression 24 hours after landfall. It crossed the Rio Grande into northeastern Mexico, where it dissipated on August 25.
Prior to Bret's landfall, all 67,000 residents of San Patricio County were under a mandatory evacuation order, with citizens of Corpus Christi urged to leave the area. 21 hours before landfall Hurricane Warnings were issued for the landfall area.
Upon making landfall, Bret produced a storm surge of 5-7 feet, along with substantial beach erosion caused by prolonged intense waves. As Bret moved slowly after landfall, it produced torrential rainfall amounting to a maximum of 13.18 inches in central Kennedy County, Texas, with other locations reporting 10 inches of rain from the hurricane. A damaged electrical tower in Kennedy County resulted in power outages for thousands of people. In Corpus Christi, winds and rain covered the city in debris and brush, leaving up to $200,000 (1999 USD) in damage. One tornado spawned by Bret in Aransas County destroyed an RV and a barn, and also uprooted trees, and two other tornadoes were reported in southeastern Texas from Bret. Total damage in Texas amounted to $60,000,000 (1999 USD), mostly from crop damage.
In the days following Bret, many mosquitoes and other insects laid eggs in areas of built up water, causing insect outbreaks. Authorities sprayed insecticide to minimize the potential for disease outbreaks.
Rio Grande Valley
Bret dropped heavy rainfall across the Rio Grande Valley, amounting to over 12 inches of rain in some locations. This caused river flooding in the Rio Grande Valley. The Mexican state of Nuevo Leon reported a rainfall total of over 14 inches from Bret, and over 5 inches of rainfall occured in southern Texas from Bret. Slick roads from Bret's heavy rainfall caused the collision of a truck and tractor, which killed 4 people, unfortunately.
Lack of Damage
Even though Bret hit Texas as a Category 3 hurricane, it failed to do significant damage. This was because Bret was a small hurricane, and hurricane-force winds extended only 40-60 miles out from its center, and also because it hit Kennedy County, Texas, the most unpopulated coastal area along the Atlantic/Gulf Coasts, with a total population of only 414 people, with the only major population areas being about 70 miles away in either direction. This was the first time since 1950's Hurricane Easy did a major hurricane landfall in the U.S. cause so little damage at landfall.
Lack of Retirement
Because of the lack of significant damage, Bret was not retired in the Spring of 2000 by the World Meteorological Organization, and it was used again in 2005, and is on the list of names to be used for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.