Hurricane Gert was the seventh named storm and third hurricane of the 1993 Atlantic hurricane season. Gert formed on September 14 while located about 90 miles north of Panama. Gert moved west-northwest and reached tropical storm status before making landfall near Bluefields, Nicaragua on September 15. Gert weakened to a tropical depression after landfall, then moved northwest and emerged over the warm waters of the extreme portion of the western Carribean Sea. Gert then regained tropical storm status once again before making landfall near Belize City, Belize on September 18. Gert then emerged over water into the Bay of Campeche as a tropical depression. Gert quickly regained tropical storm status, and because it was over water for a long period of time, attained Category 2 status before making landfall near Tuxpan, Veracruz. Gert dissipated over the mountains of Mexico on September 21. Gert's remnants entered the East Pacific Ocean, where they strengthened once again and became Tropical Depression Fourteen-E.
Gert caused $166,000,000 (1993 USD) in damage and 76 deaths.
|Formation||September 14, 1993|
|Dissipation||September 21, 1993|
|Highest winds||100 mph|
|Lowest pressure||970 mbar|
|Damages||$166,000,000 (1993 USD)|
|Areas affected||Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico|
|Part of the||1993 Atlantic hurricane season 1993 Pacific hurricane season|
Gert originated from a tropical wave that exited the coast of Africa well to the south of Dakar, Senegal on September 5. The wave moved quickly westward across the Atlantic Ocean over the following few days at rather low latitudes, causing some enhancement in the convection located within the Intertropical Convergence Zone. As the wave neared the Windward Islands, the associated cloud pattern became a little better organized. On September 11, the wave developed a weak surface low while located over Trinidad. Over the next couple of days, the wave moved across the extreme northern portion of South America, and it emerged into the southwestern Carribean Sea late on September 13. At this point, the wave developed curved convective bands, and the first Dvorak classifications were initiated on the wave at 1200 UTC September 4. Six hours later, at 1800 UTC, the wave developed into Tropical Depression Eight while located about 90 miles north of Panama. During the early stages of development, it was clear that the cyclone had a large circulation, as evident in satellite imagery as well as rawinsonde data over the western Carribean Sea. At 1200 UTC September 15, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Gert. Gert's development was soon halted, however, and its west-northwestward movement caused it to make landfall near Bluefields, Nicaragua around 1800 UTC September 15. Six hours after landfall, Gert weakened to a tropical depression and moved northwest across Nicaragua and Honduras for nearly two days. Despite its proximity over land, Gert was able to maintain tropical depression status for 36 hours, due to its well-defined surface circulation. This is partially due to the fact that Gert had a large circulation, and was thus able to draw moisture both from the Carribean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Gert emerged over the Gulf of Honduras around midday on September 17, and quickly strengthened back to a tropical storm. Gert was moving north-northwest at this time, the motion caused by a mid- to upper-level low over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. By 0000 UTC September 18, Gert made landfall once again, this time near Belize City, Belize as a minimal tropical storm. A mid-level ridge over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico forced the cyclone to move west-northwest once again. Late on September 18, Gert moved across the Yucatan Peninsula as a tropical depression. Late that day, the cyclone's circulation center emerged into the Bay of Campeche. By 0600 UTC September 19, Gert strengthened back to a tropical storm due to being over water once again. 24 hours later, Gert became a hurricane. By 0000 UTC September 20, the cyclone's foward speed slowed to less than 5 knots, which allowed the cyclone to remain over water for a longer period of time than it otherwise would have. Because of this, Gert reached its peak intensity of 100 mph along with a pressure of 970 mb just before landfall, as measured by reconnaissance aircraft. Gert made landfall just north of Tuxpan, Mexico near 2100 UTC September 20. Around 2000 UTC, a portion of Gert's southern eyewall passed over Tuxpan.
After landfall, Gert moved rapidly westward across the mountains of Mexico. At 0600 UTC September 21, Gert weakened to a tropical depression. However, because of its fast movement, the cyclone was able to maintain its circulation, and it neared the Pacific coast of Mexico around 1800 UTC September 21. Shortly thereafter, it emerged into the East Pacific Ocean, where it was classified as Tropical Depression Fourteen-E.
Satellite image of Tropical Depression Fourteen-E.
Gert was a large and persistent tropical cyclone, dropping heavy rains throughout its path. It always remained close enough to the coast to quickly re-strengthen and redevelop convection. A total of 76 people were killed from Central America through Mexico, mainly from flooding and mudslides.
Gert produced heavy rains in Central America, leaving 100,000 people homeless. In addition, the cyclone's heavy rains triggered mudslides in mountainous areas, which caused significant damage, especially to roads. Excluding Honduras, 13 people died in the region from Gert. Although Gert moved across Belize, there were no reports of damage or deaths. The nearby city of Chetumal received 7.4 inches of rain from Gert.
In Honduras, Gert produced a maximum rainfall amount of 6.77 inches at Tegucigalpa, with many other parts of the country receiving similar amounts of rain. Continuous flooding since Tropical Storm Bret 1 month prior led to extensive banana and citrus crop damage across low-lying fields. Heavy rains from Gert destroyed numerous roads, bridges, as well as buildings across the country, with total damage reaching $10,000,000 (1993 USD). The evacuation of tens of thousands of people, combined with well-executed warnings, caused the death toll in the country to only reach 21. This isn't a high death at all when you consider the fact that most tropical cyclones cause enormous loss of life in Honduras.
In Mexico, Gert produced heavy rains which in turn triggered flooding. The Pánuco River in Veracruz reached its highest level in 40 years, which forced 12,000 people from their homes in Veracruz and Tamaulipas. The highest rainfall amount at Veracruz was 13.35 inches, which fell in the city of Temopal. In Tuxpan, the cyclone produced 5.8 inches of rain, while Tampico to the north in the neighboring state of Tamaulipas fared far worse. Half of Tampico was inundated by mudslides, which damaged the road network in the city. Over 200,000 people were evacuated. In addition, significant crop damage occured, mainly to coffee, soy, bean, corn, and other vegetables, occured outside the city of Tampico. Further damaged was caused in the area as flooding persisted in the weeks following Gert's passage through the area.
Further inland, torrential rainfall was reported, with 16.8 inches occuring in the city of Tanzablanca, located in the mountainous regions of San Luis Potosí, within a 24 hour period. Other areas such as Gallinas and Tierra Blanca received heavy rain and flooding from Gert, with both cities reporting nearly 13 inches of rain in one day. Throughout Mexico, 29,075 homes were damaged or destroyed, and around 145,000 acres of crops were destroyed by flooding. In all, Gert caused $156,000,000 (1993 USD) in damage to Mexico, and killed 42 people.
Lack of Retirement
In spite of the damage and loss of life, the name Gert was not retired in the Spring of 1994 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was used again during 1999 and 2005. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.