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Hurricane Keith was the eleventh named storm, seventh hurricane, and the third major hurricane of the 2000 Atlantic hurricane season. Keith developed in the western Carribean Sea, and then ultimately made landfall near Belize City, Belize on October 3 as a strong tropical storm, after meandring offshore in a similar manner to 1998's Hurricane Mitch. Keith made a second and final landfall near Tampico, Mexico on October 5 as a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds. Keith peaked as a 140 mph Category 4 hurricane with a pressure of 939 mb.

Keith killed 40 people and caused $319,000,000 (2000 USD) in damage.

Keith as a Category 4 in the Carribean Sea
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Formation September 28, 2000
Dissipation October 6, 2000
Highest winds 140 mph
Lowest pressure 939 mbar
Deaths 40 direct
Damages $319,000,000 (2000 USD)
Areas affected Central America, Belize, Mexico

Meteorological History

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A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on September 16. It moved westward across the Atlantic Ocean and did not develop much because strong upper-level winds. Upon reaching the western Carribean Sea, upper-level winds became much more favorable for development, and on September 28, Tropical Depression Fifteen developed from this wave while located 60 miles northeast of Cape Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua. After forming, the depression drifted northwest, and strengthened into Tropical Storm Keith on September 29. On September 30, with warm water temperatures, little upper-level wind shear, and an anticyclone aloft, Keith rapidly intensified to a hurricane on September 30, and then to a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale 18 hours later. As Keith neared the coast of Belize, a ridge of high pressure blocked further westward movement. As a result, Keith looped to the south, and then made landfall near Belize City on October 3 as a 70 mph tropical storm. Keith was severely weakened because of land interaction, since it didn't really have anywhere to go.

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Keith interacting with land.

After landfall, Keith became disorganized, but when it emerged into the Bay of Campeche on October 4, it re-intensified to a 90 mph Category 1 hurricane before making its final landfall near Tampico, Mexico on October 5. The next day, Keith dissipated over the mountainous terrain of northeastern Mexico.

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Keith making its final landfall.

Preparations

In Corozal, Belize, the authorities evacuated the entire city of 10,000 people to numerous shelters in Orange Walk. Nicaragua also had officials evacuate more than 300 people from low-lying areas.

In Mexico, 5,000 people from Chetumal and surrounding low-lying areas were forced to evacuate, and after the storm's second landfall, another 5,000 were forced evacuated from several municipalities in Nuevo León, with 2,465 from Monterrey, and 1,900 from rural areas, with a cost of $400,000 (2000 MXN).

Impact

Keith was a very difficult hurricane to forecast. The storm's strength extremes and offshore stalling made it difficult for forecasters to accurately predict what Keith would do. This led to a deadly situation of waiting for Keith to recede.

The hurricane caused extreme flooding over Belize and Mexico, and it also destroyed some roads and caused landslides. Keith killed 40 people directly, and killed an unknown amount of people indirectly.

Belize

In Belize, while Keith was offshore, it actually created a negative storm surge, draining water out of various waterways, and several places were reported to have water 4 feet below normal. The only actual storm surge reported with Keith in Belize was at Caye Caulker, and it was only at 4-5 feet. The National Hurricane Center received reports that the water in the Bay of Chetumal was temporarily blown out of the way due to Keith's northerly winds. Some people walked into the exposed part of the ocean floor, not realizing that the water could return at any moment. Nobody was injured or killed while on the expoed area of the ocean floor. Belize City was buried underneath 4 feet of water and that city also lost electricity and water. Also, some of the downed power lines in the city were sending sparks into the open, which forced most people to remain in their homes after the homes until the lines were fixed or removed. At least 20 homes were damaged in the city, and many more suffered minor roof damage from Keith. 40 homes in Caye Caulker were destroyed, while the remaining buildings lost phone connection and electricity in Caye Caulker and San Pedro, Belize. The lagoon area of San Pedro experienced the worst damage in the city from Keith. Also, the local Texaco station was completely destroyed by Keith. Although the city of San Juan was spared, the city of San Pedrito was significantly damaged by the hurricane, with only 12 homes reported to have stood up to Keith. The other homes were flattened.

Several areas in Belize picked up as much as 10 inches of rain from Keith, but the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City reported a rainfall total of 32.67 inches from Keith. The five deaths that occured in Belize happened after two catamarans broke loose from what was holding them. An additional 14 people were killed in the country, likely from flooding. Also, several injuries, mainly from flying debris, were reported in San Pedro, but thankfully no fatalities occured. Keith caused an estimated $280,000,000 (2000 USD) in Belize.

Rest of Central America

Although damage estimates are unavailable in Guatemala, heavy rains from Keith were reported to have caused flooding in 10 towns. In addition, a young girl was reported to have become the first fatality from Keith in Guatemala. Also, a 16-year old boy was swept away by a fast moving flooded river in Nicaragua. The 11 other fatalities from Keith were caused by flooding rains. Also, thirteen communities in the country were completely isolated from the rest of the world after Keith made roads impassable. Five of the fatalities in Honduras occured when an aircraft disappeared near Roatan Island. The other death was from flooding. Damage estimates are unavailable in Honduras. In El Salvador, a 20-year old man drowned in a river and an additional 300 people were affected by river flooding caused by Keith.

Mexico

In Mexico, where Keith made his final landfall, in the state of Nuevo León, near Monterrey, Keith caused torrential rainfall, with the average precipitation on the state being 5 inches, causing mudslides on several cities, including San Pedro, Guadalupe and Escobedo. The swift currents, caused by the flash flood after the storm, rose up to 250 m³/s (9000 ft³/s), and dragged 130 people into local rivers; however, all were rescued, and none of them were killed, thankfully. In addition, the rivers dragged 30 vehicles, all of which were moderate to total losses. The runoff from Keith caused the El Cuchillo dam to receive 105,000 acre-feet of water daily, and the La Boca dam to receive 810 acre-feet of water per hour. Also, 13,000 residents lost power in the state from Keith. Total damage in the state rose to $115.6 million (2000 MXN), with damage to urban infrastructure being the most costly part of the damage, with $44.2 million (2000 MXN) used to repair damage in eight municipalities. San Pedro Garza García received approximately three quarters of the damage to infrastructure, at $30.8 million (2000 MXN). In addition, about 460 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 300 families had to be evacuated to safer areas because of Keith.

In Tamaulipas, Keith produced as much, if not more rainfall than in Nuevo León. A reporting station in the municipality of Gómez Farías, the pluviometer reported a 24-hour rainfall total of 13.24 inches and a storm total of 18.44 inches, which broke the record for the highest rainfall amount in that area, which counted 35 years of data at the time. Heavy rainfall from Keith also caused rivers to rise to record levels, as the Sabinas River rose to 35.83 feet on October 6, a new historical peak, and the Guayalejo River rose to 77.46 feet, slightly under the 1976 record. The heavy rainfall caused the Las Ánimas dam to catch 525,000 acre-feet of water between October 5 and October 17; however, some of this water had to be released, as the upstream face of the dam was damaged by debris, and had to be repaired. Overall, Keith caused $117.8 million (2000 MXN) in damage in the state of Tamaulipas.

In other states across Mexico, damage was lighter, but still significant. In Sonora, total damage was $64,000,000 (2000 MXN); in Quintana Roo, total damage was $42.2 million (2000 MXN) and finally, in Chapas, total damage was $25.6 million (2000 MXN). Total damage in Mexico is estimated at $365.9 million (2000 MXN).

The death in Mexico that was associated with Keith was apparently due to flooding from heavy rains.

Retirement

Because of the damage and deaths, the name Keith was retired in the Spring of 2001 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was replaced with Kirk for the 2006 season, and is on the list of names to be used for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

2000 Atlantic hurricane season

References

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

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