Hurricane Gert was the seventh named storm, fifth hurricane, and fourth major hurricane of the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season. Gert formed from a tropical wave that exited the coast of Africa on September 11. Gert peaked as a 150 mph Category 4 hurricane, with a pressure of 930 mb. Gert moved west-northwest, then north, then northeast and recurved out to sea, never making landfall. It did, however, brush Bermuda and affect parts of Atlantic Canada.
Gert caused $1.4 million (1999 USD) in damage and 2 direct fatalities.
|Formation||September 11, 1999|
|Dissipation||September 23, 1999|
|Highest winds||150 mph|
|Lowest pressure||930 mbar|
|Damages||$1.4 million (1999 USD)|
|Areas affected||Bermuda, Atlantic Canada|
A tropical wave exited the coast of Africa on September 11. The wave tracked steadily westward and became Tropical Depression Nine at 1200 UTC that same day, while located west of the Cape Verde Islands. After forming, the depression continued westward at a fast foward speed of 20 mph, becoming Tropical Storm Gert on September 12. Gert continued to the west, and became a hurricane on September 13. While located 1,200 miles east of the Windward Islands, Gert developed a well-defined eye, strengthening into a 125 mph Category 3 hurricane as it did so. Gert continued to intensify, and on September 15, it became a Category 4 hurricane, with winds peaking at 150 mph, and the pressure dropping as low as 930 mb, while Gert was 60 miles north of Guadaloupe. On September 16, a dropsonde released by hurricane hunter aircraft reported winds of 160-170 mph, as well as a minimum central pressure of 868 mb. However, another dropsonde released by hurricane hunters indicated that Gert's winds were around 140 mph. On September 17, Gert began to recurve, and also began to weaken when the storm interacted with an approaching upper-level system. At 1500 UTC on September 17, Gert's winds decreased to 120 mph. On September 20, Gert re-intensified some more before weakening again on September 21.
Because of the influence of the approaching upper-level system, Gert moved rapidly to the northeast, and Gert's center passed 150 miles to the east of the island of Bermuda. Gert weakened to a tropical storm as it approached the Canadian Maritimes on September 22, before merging with an extratropical cyclone.
Because of Gert's threat to the island, officials in Bermuda issued a Tropical Storm Warning on September 19, then a Hurricane Warning on September 20. Forecasters initially predicted Gert would pass 100 miles east of the island. The following day, forecasters predicted Gert would pass within 75 miles of the island, and that Gert would not make landfall. At the same time, residents of the island prepared for Gert by evacuating from low-lying areas. Schools were also closed so that they could be used as storm shelters. Nearly 700 residents left their homes, while many tourists were evacuated off the island. Cruise ships were moved to safer areas and many flights were cancelled. As was predicted, Gert's center remained far away from Bermuda, causing all warnings to be discontinued on September 21.
In Newfoundland, offshore oil rigs ceased operations and workers were quickly evacuated.
As Gert's center bypassed Bermuda, it brought gusty winds in excess of 75-80 mph, and dropped rainfall of up to 0.53 inches. Even though Gert did not make landfall in Bermuda, it still produced heavy surf across the island. The high surf damaged a house and left some roads impassable. There were also reports of moderate beach erosion from the hurricane, and several dolphins escaped when their pool broke apart because of flying debris. Because of advanced warnings, there were no reported injuries in Bermuda.
East Coast of the United States
Along the East Coast of the United States, Gert generated a freak wave that caused two fatalities in Maine.
In Newfoundland, Gert produced gale-force winds, but it did not produce any reported rainfall totals. A 50 foot wave damaged a seawall and sank several fishing boats. Two storage sheds were also destroyed by the hurricane. Three people were swept out to sea by the heavy surf caused by Gert, although thankfully, they were all rescued. Total damage in Newfoundland is estimated to be at $2,000,000 (1999 CND, $1.4 million 1999 USD).
Lack of Retirement
Because damage was very minimal, the name Gert was not retired in the Spring of 2000 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was used again in the 2005 season, and was not retired there either. Thus it is on the list of names to be used for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.