Hurricane Emily was the fifth named storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, the third hurricane, and the second major hurricane of the horrific season, forming from a tropical wave that exited the African coast in July. Emily was also the first Category 5 hurricane of the season; it is the only storm to ever have reached Category 5 status in July. Emily passed through the Windward Islands, and caused heavy damage in Grenada, which had been hit by Hurricane Ivan less than one year earlier. Emily then struck the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 4 hurricane; this was the Yucatan Peninsula's worst hurricane since Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, which struck as a Category 5 with 170 mph winds. Emily then emerged into the Bay of Campeche, restrengthening to a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall in the state of Tamaulipas in northern Mexico. Originally, Emily was forecast to possibly hit Brownsville, Texas as a major hurricane, but instead hit south of that area. Still, tropical-storm force winds of 70 mph were reported there, with gusts possibly topping 80 mph.

Also, when Emily's minimum central pressure reached 929 millibars, and its sustained winds reached 160 mph, weak Category 5 intensity, on July 16, it broke the record for the strongest storm to form prior to August, even though Hurricane Dennis broke this record just six days before. Also, Emily is the earliest known Category 5 in the Atlantic basin, beating Hurricane Allen's old record by nearly three weeks. This unheard of intensification is because Dennis actually pushed WARM waters behind it in its wake, unlike normal hurricanes, which push cooler water behind in their wake. Emily caused $550,000,000 in damage (2005 USD) throughout its path.

Emily as a Category 5 hurricane on July 16.
Formation July 10, 2005
Dissipation July 21,2005
Highest winds 160 mph
Lowest pressure 929 mbar
Deaths 6 direct, 9 indirect
Damages $550,000,000 (2005 USD)
Areas affected Windward Islands, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Yucatan Peninsula, northeastern Mexico, very southern part of Texas

Meteorological History

In early July, a tropical wave exited the coast of Africa ahead of Dennis, and moved westward. On the evening of July 10, the wave had organized enough to be classified as Tropical Depression Five while it was in the central Atlantic Ocean. Late on July 11, the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Emily. After becoming a tropical storm, Emily moved westward, defying prediction of a west-northwest motion towards the Greater Antilles that was initially forecast for the storm. Emily passed through the Windward Islands, retaining moderate tropical storm status as it did so (initially, Emily was forecast to rapidly intensify, but this did not occur as early as predicted). Late on July 13, Emily rapidly intensified, reaching Tobago and entering the eastern Carribean Sea. On July 14, Emily passed over northern Grenada. Emily rapidly intensified further on July 15 in the southeastern Carribean Sea, a region which is typically unfavorable for tropical cyclone development, with Emily briefly becoming a Category 4 hurricane early on July 15. This intensification was caused because of weak wind shear in the area, as well as the warmer waters that were pushed behind in the wake of Hurricane Dennis. Typically, a hurricane pushes cooler water behind them in their wake, but Dennis didn't, which aided in Emily's unheard of rapid intensification.

After becoming a Category 4, Emily's strength began to fluctuate rapidly, with the storm becoming a Category 2 hurricane, then a Category 4 hurricane again. On July 16, Emily strengthened considerably, briefly becoming a Category 5 hurricane with 160 mph winds while located southwest of the island of Jamaica. Operationally, it was thought that Emily peaked as a 155 mph Category 4 hurricane, but post-season analysis showed that Emily did actually reach Category 5 status very briefly on July 16. Emily weakened slightly as it continued moving west-northwestward, remaining a Category 4 while passing south of Jamaica on the 16th, and the Cayman Islands on July 17. After that, Emily continued moving to the west-northwest, weakening a bit more before its landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 4 hurricane with 135 mph winds at 2:30 AM EDT on July 18. Emily made landfall on the island of Cozumel, then struck the mainland of the peninsula at Playa Del Carmen, with the eye of the hurricane passing directly over Cozumel.

After landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula, Emily emerged over the southern Gulf of Mexico later that morning. Passage over the mountainous terrain of the Yucatan Peninsula caused Emily to weaken back to a minimal hurricane with 75 mph winds. However, a few hours over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico was all that was needed for Emily to begin reintensifying. By midnight, the wind speed of Emily began to increase, although intensification slowed. Still, Emily was rapidly organizing even though its wind speeds weren't going up all that much, and Emily started showing very symmetrical outflow. However, the strongest winds of the hurricane were found at three different distances away from the center of circulation. Eventually, the outer wind rabii subsided, and the inner core prevailed. On the evening of July 19, Emily rapidly intensified back into a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds, with the minimum central pressure dropping about 30 millibars, and the wind speeds increasing from 90 mph, all in just a few hours. At this point, forecasters thought that Emily might strengthen more. This never occured, however, and Emily made its final landfall in northeastern Mexico south of Texas as a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds on July 20 near San Fernando in Tamaulipas. Emily dissipated over the Sierra Madre Oriental on July 21, as it headed inland over northeastern Mexico.



Emily hit first on the island of Grenada, an area that had already been devastated by the destructive Hurricane Ivan of 2004, which struck the island directly at Category 3 intensity less than a year earlier. Emily caused significant damage to the northern part of Grenada, including Carriacou, which the worst part of Ivan did not touch. Also, Emily caused one death in the country. 16 houses were destroyed, with well over 200 more damaged. Also, two of the main hospitals on the island were flooded thanks to Emily. Damage in Grenada is estimated to be about $110,000,000 (2005 USD).

Trinidad and Tobago

In Trinidad and Tobago, Emily triggered landslides because of its heavy rains. Also, flooding damaged several homes.


In Jamaica, landslides were reported in the eastern portion of the island, due to heavy rains as Emily passed to the south of the island. Four people were reported dead on the island after Emily came through. The death toll in the Carribean from Emily is 10.

Yucatan Peninsula

In the Yucatan Peninsula, tens of thousands of tourists and residents were evacuated from beach resorts in and around Cancún, the Riviera Maya, as well as Cozumel. On Saturday afternoon, hotel guests were evacuated, with the staff being evacuated on Sunday afternoon. Two helicopter pilots were killed when they crashed while evacuating oil platforms offshore that were operated by Pemex. In Playa Del Carmen, a man was killed when he was electrocuted on his roof. Emily also disrupted the Yucatan's tourism industry, with many hotels sustaining significant damage, especially those that were built in a traditional style with thatched roofs. Fortunately, Cancún did not sustain very much damage from Emily, remaining relatively unscathed. However, further down the coast from Cancún, some hotels were closed for many months after Emily passed through the Yucatan Peninsula. Some of the hotels reopened up shortly before Hurricane Wilma that hit just three months later, but some had to push their plans for reopening even further back.

Northeastern Mexico

In northeastern Mexico, where Emily made its second and final landfall, damage was severe, with 80% of the homes in the fishing community of Laguna Madre being destroyed by Emily's storm surge. Also, several communites on the coast of Tamaulipas were isolated after Emily passed through the area. Also, severe coastal flooding was reported, as well as significant wind damage, destroying numerous houses. In Monterrey, some inland flooding was reported. Communication to the Riviera Maya was difficult once Emily passed through the area, with land lines being knocked down, electricity being knocked out, as well as not all cellphones receiving coverage to the area. Also, around 18,000 people in 20 low-lying communities in Tamaulipas were evacuated. Insured damages in Mexico is estimated to be at around $200,000,000, with total damage from Emily in Mexico amounting to $400,000,000.


In extreme southern Texas, Emily knocked down some trees, as well as caused over 30,000 customers to be without electricity. No significant structural damage was reported because of Emily in extreme southern Texas, fortunately. Also, eight tornadoes were reported in Texas because of Emily, destroying several homes. However, some positive effects of Emily were noted; Emily moved further west into Texas after landfall, and brought some much needed rainfall for the area, which helped relieve a drought that was plaguing the area. In Texas, damage was less than $50,000,000.

Emily offshore the Mexico/Texas border, as a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph winds.

Lack of Retirement

Despite its effects, the name Emily was not retired, thus no replacement name was chosen. It is on the list for names to be used in the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. Emily is only the fourth Category 5 hurricane since 1953, and the first Category 5 hurricane since Hurricane Edith in the 1971 Atlantic hurricane season to not have its name retired.

See Also

2005 Atlantic hurricane season