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Hurricane Felix was the sixth named storm, second hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. Felix was also the last major hurricane of the season to develop, and the second Category 5 hurricane to develop during the season. Felix formed late on August 31 east of the southern Windward Islands. After forming, Felix underwent rapid intensification, attaining Category 5 status at 0000 UTC September 3. Felix then underwent an eyewall replacement cycle, which temporarily weakened it to a Category 3. However, as the eyewall replacement cycle finished, Felix quickly re-intensified, and regained Category 5 status before making landfall near Punta Gorda, Nicaragua at 1200 UTC September 4. This marked the first time in history of the Atlantic basin that two Category 5 hurricanes made landfall during the same season. After landfall, Felix quickly weakened, and dissipated over the mountains of Central America on September 5.

Felix 133 people, with all but 3 of those deaths being direct ones. Total damage was $50.38 million (2007 USD).

Felix near peak intensity
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FormationAugust 31, 2007
Dissipation September 5, 2007
Highest winds 175 mph
Lowest pressure 929 mbar
Deaths 130 direct, 3 indirect
Damages $50.38 million (2007 USD)
Areas affectedVenezuela, ABC Islands, Central America
Part of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season

Meteorological History

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On August 24, the precursor tropical wave to Felix moved off the west coast of Africa. The wave moved westward across the Atlantic Ocean for several days while producing a persistent but disorganized area of cloudiness and showers. By August 29, the associated convective activity began to increase, as did the low-level vorticity. The wave continued to organize, and it is estimated that at 1200 UTC August 31, the wave developed into Tropical Depression Six while located about 195 miles east-southeast of the island of Barbados. After forming, the newly-developed tropical cyclone moved westward. The storm then jumped west-northwest, possibly due to center reformation. A westward motion later continued, however, and at 0000 UTC September 1, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Felix while located about 60 miles south of Barbados. At 0845 UTC September 1, Felix passed over the island of Grenada, and subsequently moved across the southern Carribean Sea, embedded within deep-layered easterly flow along the south side of a vigorous ridge to the north. Felix quickly intensified, becoming a hurricane around 0000 UTC September 2 while located about 155 miles east of Bonaire in the ABC Islands. That day, Felix moved just north of due west, passing only 35-45 miles to the north of the ABC Islands.

During the day, Felix underwent explosive deepening, with maximum sustained surface winds increasing to 165 mph by 0000 UTC September 3, which made Felix a Category 5 hurricane. In addition, Felix's central pressure decreased to 929 mb at around 0700 UTC September 3 -- a 64 mb drop within 32 hours.

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Hurricane Felix as seen onboard the International Space Station. Felix was a Category 5 when this image was taken.

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Hurricane Felix nearing Central America.

Later that day, Felix underwent an eyewall replacement cycle, with the hurricane weakening to a Category 3, and the central pressure rising considerably to 953 mb. The weakening was short-lived, however, and once the eyewall replacement cycle was nearing its end, Felix began to rapidly intensify once again. Felix is estimated to have regained Category 5 status prior its landfall near Punta Gorda, Nicaragua at 1200 UTC September 4.

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Felix at its Nicaragua landfall.

Felix quickly weakened after landfall, becoming a tropical storm over northern Nicaragua less than 12 hours after landfall. Felix then decelerated and turned to the west-northwest, degenerating into a remnant low over Honduras early on September 5. The low briefly emerged into the Gulf of Honduras later that day, but no redevelopment occured before it moved back inland near Belize and Guatemala. Felix's remnant low dissipated over eastern Mexico late on September 6, although cloudiness and showers could be tracked across the Pacific Ocean until September 9.

Preparations

As Felix became a tropical cyclone, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tobago, and Grenada and its dependencies. In addition, a Tropical Storm Watch was issued for the northeastern coast of Venezuela from Cumaná to Pedernales, including Isla Margarita, as well as the ABC Islands. The National Emergency Management Agency of Tobago was fully activated, with 79 shelters opened on the island. As Felix was upgraded to a tropical storm, the aforementioned Tropical Storm Watch for the ABC Islands was replaced with a Tropical Storm Warning. On September 2, the islands were put under a Hurricane Watch, where several tourists attempted to leave the islands via plane prior to Felix's arrival. Early on September 2, the government of Jamaica issued a Tropical Storm Watch, which was cancelled as Felix passed well south of the island. Later that day, a Tropical Storm Watch was issued for Grand Cayman, and on September 3, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued for Providencia Island. At 0300 UTC September 3, the government of Honduras issued a Hurricane Watch from El Limón to the Honduras/Nicaragua border. Six hours later, this watch was upgraded to a warning. At 1200 UTC September 3, a Hurricane Watch was issued for the coast of Guatemala, as well as the entire coast of Belize. At the same time, a Hurricane Watch was extended westward to the Guatemala/Honduras border. Early on September 4, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued for the same area. Evacuations were ordered for residents living in low-lying areas near the coast; around midday on September 3, around 300 tourists evacuated from the Bay Islands department, with an additional 400 preparing to leave the area by plane; a total of 2,000 people evacuated from coastal areas. By the time Felix made landfall, 20,000 residents in Honduras had fled to safer areas.

At 1500 UTC September 3, about 21 hours prior to its landfall, the government of Nicaragua issued a Hurricane Warning from Puerto Cabezas northward to the national border. About 12 hours prior to landfall, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued from Puerto Cabezas southward to Prinzapolka. Also, prior to the arrival of Hurricane Felix, officials sent about 140,000 pounds of meals as well as emergency supplies near the landfall location.

Impact

Windward Islands

At 1200 UTC September 1, Felix produced a wind gust of 46 mph on the island of Barbados, with a wind gust of 44 mph being recorded on St. Vincent at around the same time. Felix also produced heavy rainfall across the Windward Islands. On Trinidad, heavy rains caused mudslides and overflown rivers which destroyed some bridges. In addition, strong winds damaged several buildings on the island. Damage on neighboring Tobago was confined primarily to the northern portion of the island, where several mudslides occured; total damage on Tobago was estimated at $40,000 (2007 USD). Felix also produced gusty winds on Grenada, downing several power lines as well as destroying the roofs off two houses. In addition, rough seas caused several boats to broke loose from their moorings. On St. Lucia, strong winds damaged the roof of a store in Castries, which collapsed and destroyed 12 vehicles.

ABC Islands and Venezuela

Felix also impacted the ABC Islands, passing a short distance north of the island chain on September 2. Felix produced gusty winds and heavy rainfall across the islands, with the rainfall leaving several homes underwater on the island of Curaçao. On Aruba, strong winds caused damage to one house and briefly left a village along the northern portion of the island without electricity. Little damage was reported on Bonaire.

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Hurricane Felix impacting the island of Aruba.

Felix also impacted Venezuela, producing gusty winds as well as 10 foot waves along the northern coast of the country, which left one person missing in Puerto Cabello.

Central America

Felix caused extensive damage in Honduras and Nicaragua. In Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, nearly every structure sustained at least some roof damage, and many buildings in the city were destroyed by the powerful hurricane. Felix produced flooding and mudslides along the Mosquito Coast, which destroyed many homes as well as blocked highways. The government of Nicaragua declared the northern Carribean coast of that country a disaster area. The Miskito Cays located about 43 miles from Bilwi off the northeastern coast of Nicaragua, was among the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Felix. Felix had not regained Category 5 status prior to passing over this area, but nevertheless, still produced wind gusts as high as 160 mph, completely obliterating the cays, with pillars that previously formed the base of the houses being the only thing left behind by the hurricane.

Felix killed 133 people, with 130 of them in Nicaragua alone. While few details have been disclosed, they include at least 25 dead Miskito fishermen swept away, a drowning death on a boat, impact from a fallen tree and at least one indirect death caused by medical complications after birth. There were three deaths reported in Honduras, one of which was caused by a motor vehicle accident caused by heavy rain and landslides, and two caused by flooding in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. However, hundreds of others were missing (mostly at sea), and communication was difficult to impossible in many areas. Some survivors were also found on the Mosquito Coast that were initially reported missing.

According to official information, at least 40,000 people were affected, with 9,000 homes destroyed by the hurricane, most of them being in Bilwi. In addition, a total lack of supplies and services was reported in the area. Federal response was almost immediate, however, and help arrived from Venezuela, Cuba, Honduras, and the United States were received. In addition, several organizations, including the Nicaraguan Red Cross, the media, and universities organized collections all across the country. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega visited Bilwi on the day after the catastrophe and promised the reconstruction of houses to the people affected. Total damage in Nicaragua from Felix reached $46.7 million (2007 USD).

Felix also caused inland flooding in Honduras, particularly in Tegucigalpa and along the northwestern regions, where the Uula River as well as the Chamelecon River overflowed into an agricultural area. In addition, coastal flooding occured in the town of Izabal in Guatemala, where a total of 850 people were evacuated. Total crop damage in Honduras reached $3.64 million (2007 USD).

Retirement

Because of the extreme damage and loss of life, the name Felix was retired in the Spring of 2008 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was replaced by Fernand for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.

See also

References

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL062007_Felix.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Felix

External links

2007 Atlantic hurricane season.

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