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Hurricane Debby was the fourth storm and the second hurricane of the 2000 Atlantic hurricane season. Debby formed from a tropical wave that moved off the African coast on August 16. On August 19, the wave consolidated enough to be classified as a tropical depression while east of the Lesser Antilles. The depression quickly strengthened into a tropical storm, then to a hurricane. Debby peaked at 85 mph and a pressure of 991 mb. Debby dissipated on August 24. Debby passed over the Leeward Islands, and then passed just north of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. Debby remained somewhat disorganized for the rest of its life, and it dissipated along the southern coast of Cuba on August 24.

Debby caused moderate roof damage in Barbuda, and in the Lesser Antilles, gusty winds from the hurricane caused damage to fruit trees and power lines. In the United States Virgin Islands, total damage was $200,000 (2000 USD). Debby dropped up to 12 inches of rain in Puerto Rico, which caused mudslides that damaged bridges and roads. 406 homes were affected by flooding from Hurricane Debby, with damage totaling to $501,000 (2000 USD), primarily in the municipality of Caguas. Debby also killed one person indirectly in Puerto Rico. On the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, waves and rainfall caused light to moderate damage. Finally, in Cuba, Debby's remnants helped to relieve a severe drought.

Hurricane Debby near peak intensity
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Formation August 19, 2000
Dissipation August 24, 2000
Highest winds 85 mph
Lowest pressure 991 mbar
Deaths 1 indirect
Damages $735,000 (2000 USD)
Areas affected Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos, Cuba, Jamaica, Florida

Meteorological History

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A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on August 16, and carried unusually strong winds of 60 mph, but lacked a closed surface circulation. The wave moved westward across the Atlantic Ocean, the wave gradually weakened, but it gained organization as it was weakening. On August 19, the wave was designated Tropical Depression Seven by the National Hurricane Center, while it was located approximately 1036 miles east of the Windward Islands. After forming, the depression became Tropical Storm Debby 12 hours later. Debby moved west-northwest and quickly became a hurricane. However, Debby was a very small storm, and hurricane-force winds extended out only 25 miles from its center of circulation. Debby reached a peak intensity of 85 mph in post-season analysis, but it had a minimum central pressure reading of only 1004 mb, quite high for a hurricane. After Debby weakened slightly, it reached its lowest pressure of 991 mb, but winds were down to 80 mph. For the rest of its life, Debby remained somewhat disorganized. Debby moved west, and on August 22, it passed over Barbuda as a minimal hurricane, and then struck St. Barthelemy and Virgin Gorda as a minimal hurricane shortly thereafter. After that, Debby continued westward, and passed just north of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. While Debby passed within just miles of the northern coast of Hispaniola, strong vertical wind shear and interaction with the mountainous terrain of the island weakened Debby to a tropical storm. Debby then began moving west-southwest, and lost its closed surface circulation off the southeastern coast of Cuba on August 24. Debby's remnants became a strong tropical wave that moved westward towards the Yucatan Peninsula. In the subsequent days, the remnant low moved northeast and brought strong winds to Cuba and Florida.

Preparations

Several Tropical Storm Warnings were issued for the Carribean islands to warn residents of the approaching storm. In Philipsburg, St. Maarten, several shops in the downtown area were boarded up to prepare for Debby. Elsewhere along the range of Debby's projected path, homes and businesses were boarded up, and families buried emergency supplies in the ground. Also, 10 U.S. Naval ships and two submarines off the coast of Vieques Island temporarily abandoned their training exercises and moved over 300 miles to the south of Puerto Rico, so that they could get out of Debby's path. On the island of Antigua, electricity was shut down to prevent storm damage to the island's infrastructure. When Debby moved into the coastal waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Hovensa oil refinery in St. Croix was shut down, and because of that, gas prices rose. In Cuba, around 7,000 people were evacuated. Several shelters were opened across the northern Carribean islands, although few took shelter in them. In Nassau, Bahamas, over 40 shelters were ready to be used even though Debby never affected the island. A total of 889 people in the northern coastal plains were evacuated and placed in shelters outside of Debby's projected path. In St. Thomas, three shelters were opened up in anticipation of Debby's arrival, and another two shelters were opened up in St. John. The total amount of people in all five shelters only reached 64. An additional 17 people took refuge in an unknown number of shelters on St. Croix.

The state of Florida declared a state of emergency for much of the Florida Keys, even though Debby was still far from the state. This caused a significant reduction in tourism for that year. For a period of time, forecasters had predicted that Debby would approach the Florida Keys as a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory predicted Debby to be much more intense when approaching the Florida Keys, and predicted a Category 4 hurricane with a minimum central pressure of 926 mb.

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Projected path of Debby showing a strike on South Florida.

Impact

Lesser Antilles

Throughout the Leeward Islands, Debby produced gusty winds, which damaged fruit trees and downed power lines. In Barbuda, Debby caused moderate damage roof damage to several buildings. Also, a total of 1.5 inches of rain fell on over half the country of Antigua and Barbuda. Downed utility poles were reported in Antigua, and trees were also spotted. Rainfall totals in the region reached 0.91 inches. St. Martin reported little rainfall from the hurricane, as Debby almost uneventfully passed over the island. The only damage reported on St. Martin from Debby was minor flooding and some plant and tree damage. St. Thomas officially received 1.93 inches of rain from Debby. At the southernmost of the Lesser Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago had a feederband develop from the hurricane which caused flooding in the Barrackpore region.

United States Territories

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the hurricane caused a total damage amount of $200,000 (2000 USD). Other than that, damage was mostly from brief power outages. On St. Thomas, one sailboat was washed ashore on Vessup Beach and minor landscape damage occured on St. John. In St. Croix, 0.46 inches of rain fell from Debby.

In Puerto Rico, Debby dropped up to 12 inches of rain in less than 48 hours, which caused mudslides which damaged bridges and roads in the country. Most of the island, however, only picked up about 3 inches of rain from the hurricane. The highest rainfall total reported in Puerto Rico was 12.63 inches in Rio Piedras. Another rainfall amount that was nearly as high as the amount that fell in Pio Piedras was 12.16 inches in Cayey 1, though there were unofficial reports of 17 inches of rain in the interior mountains of the country. Because of Debby's torrential rainfall, several mudslides were reported inland. Debby produced about 5 inches of rain in San Juan, producing slick roads which resulted in several minor car accidents. 406 homes were affected from Debby's flooding, with damage totaling to $501,000 (2000 USD), primarily in the Caguas municipality. Also, five houses were moderately to severely damaged by the hurricane, and three of those houses were wooden, and the remaining two were made out of concrete. Debby was also indirectly reponsible for the death of a 78-year old man who fell to his death while trying to remove a satellite dish from the roof of his home.

Dominican Republic

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Debby interacting with the mountains of Hispaniola on August 23.

On the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, Debby produced waves and rainfall, which resulted in light to moderate damage. Over 20 homes in various places across the northern coast of the country were swept out to sea by the hurricane. At San José de Matanzas, several coconut trees were uprooted from the ground. In addition, two homes were slightly damaged from strong wind gusts. In the nearby town of La Vega, bridges over the Piedra River and Jumunucu River collapsed due to the heavy rainfall and flooding. Another town known as Salcedo, lost approximately 1,500 acres of bananas, with damage costs at $34,000 (2000 USD). The country's Civil Defense Force stated that over 700 people along the northern coast of the country were forced out of their homes after severe flooding. Whether or not the people returned to their homes is unknown.

Other Carribean Islands

In Haiti, Port-De-Paix experienced some of Debby's outer rainbands that tore away many tin roofs from the numerous shanties. The rainbands also flooded some homes. A small coastal village called Carenage experienced strong winds that sunk at least five boats. Also, storm surge from Debby swept away one home, but no deaths or injuries were reported.

In Cuba, the remnants of Debby helped relieve a severe drought. An 8-month long drought was affecting Guantanamo until Debby produced heavy rainfall over the area, causing the drought to become severely weakened. This pleased local Cubans. Shortly after Debby had dissipated south of Cuba and moved westward, nearly all of 30,000 people displaced by the hurricane in Cuba returned to their homes. Also, Debby's remnants produced heavy rainfall in Jamaica.

Lack of Retirement

Because the damage was minimal, the name Debby was not retired in the Spring of 2001 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was used again during the 2006 season, and is on the list of names to be used 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

2000 Atlantic hurricane season

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Debby_%282000%29

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