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Hurricane Luis was the twelfth named storm, sixth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. Forming as a Cape Verde hurricane, Luis formed on August 27 to the south of the Cape Verde Islands. Luis moved west-northwest and west, attaining Category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Luis came very close to the Leeward Islands, bringing significant impact in some of the islands. Luis then gradually recurved out to sea, although it did pass over southeastern Newfoundland on September 11 as a Category 1 hurricane. Luis became extratropical later that day.

Luis killed 17 people, all directly. It also caused $2.5 billion (1995 USD) in damage.

Luis at 1705 UTC September 3
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FormationAugust 27, 1995
Dissipation September 11, 1995
Highest winds 140 mph
Lowest pressure 935 mbar
Deaths 17 direct
Damages $2.5 billion (1995 USD)
Areas affectedLeeward Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Newfoundland
Part of the 1995 Atlantic hurricane season

Meteorological History

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Luis's origins appear to be associated with a tropical wave that was first detected in the Atlantic Ocean between Africa and the Cape Verde Islands on August 26. The wave moved westward and developed a weak surface circulation center on August 27 while located south of the Cape Verde Islands. Based on this, it is estimated that the wave developed into Tropical Depression Thirteen at that time. While Luis was developing, there were three other active tropical cyclones to the west and northwest, namely; Humberto, Iris, and Karen. The depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Luis on August 29, but Luis's convection fluctuated over the next two days due to vertical wind shear. On August 30, the shear diminished and Luis became a hurricane as an eye developed within the center of the cyclone. Luis continued to intensify as it moved west-northwestward, and late on September 3, a reconnaissance aircraft reached Luis and confirmed the satellite estimates, which indicated that Luis was a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. At this time, Luis was located about 600 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. On September 5, Luis changed direction and moved from west to northwest as it passed over the northeastern portion of the Leeward Islands. The center passed directly over Barbuda and close enough to the northeast of Antigua, St. Barthelemy, St. Martin and Anguilla that the southern portion of the eyewall affected these islands. During this time, Luis's maximum sustained winds were 135 mph, low end Category 4 strength, and just 5 mph below the 140 mph observed the previous 48 hours.

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Hurricane Luis north of the Leeward Islands.

Luis was a large hurricane, and its eyewall was 40 miles in diameter as it moved across the Leeward Islands. In addition to the aforementioned eyewall conditions, the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Eustatius and the northernmost British Virgin Islands experienced hurricane force winds, while the remainder of the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, as well eastern Puerto Rico experienced winds of tropical storm force from the cyclone. After moving away from the Leeward Islands, Luis gradually recurved out to sea as it moved northwest, north, and then northeast. It passed 200 miles to the west of Bermuda on September 9, producing tropical storm force winds there. Luis moved across southeastern Newfoundland on September 11 as a Category 1 hurricane. Luis made landfall as it was becoming an extratropical cyclone. Luis became extratropical later on September 11.

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Luis at its Newfoundland landfall.

Preparations

In the days prior to the arrival of Luis, residents in the Leeward Islands were given ample time to prepare for the cyclone, since it was a slow moving storm. About 30 hours prior to the passage of Luis, Hurricane Warnings were put up, which allowed for shelters to open on the islands as well for preparation.

Impact

Leeward Islands

Luis caused significant damage across the Leeward Islands, estimated at $2.5 billion (1995 USD).

Dominica

In Dominica, Luis damaged between 60 to 100% of all of the crops on the island, with the worst affected being the banana crop. Total property damage was estimated at $47,000,000 (1995 USD).

St. Martin

As it passed by the island of St. Martin, Luis produced 6 inches of rain as well as strong winds. 60% of the houses on the island were either damaged or destroyed by the hurricane. Total damage reached $1.8 billion (1995 USD).

St. Kitts and Nevis

The entire infrastructure of St. Kitts and Nevis were damaged by Luis, with troubles occuring especially with the water system. Luis caused moderate house and crop damage, reaching $197,000,000 (1995 USD).

Antigua and Barbuda

Due to Luis directly hitting Antigua and Barbuda as a Category 4 hurricane, the islands received sustained winds of 135 to 140 mph, along with 10 inches of rain. 70% of the homes on Barbuda were either damaged or destroyed by the hurricane, and nearly half of the homes on Antigua were eradicated by Luis. Much of the islands received power outages as well as disrupted water systems. In all, Luis killed 3 people on the islands, injured 165, and had 1,700 people in shelters. In addition, the government of those islands estimated that damage reached $350,000,000 (1995 USD).

International aid was sought after in the days following the storm, with building and food supplies being the most needed. Sanitation in general was lacking subsequent to the storm, contributing to an increased mosquito population. By 2 weeks after the hurricane, life was slowly returning to normalcy as money came to aid the 2 islands, including $200,000 from France to assist in their troubles.

Bermuda

In Bermuda, Luis produced tropical storm force winds, light rain, as well as high seas, but no damage was reported from the island.

Atlantic Ocean

In the Atlantic Ocean, the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, during a trip between Southampton, England and New York City, New York, the aforementioned ship sailed into the outskirts of Luis in an attempt to avoid the hurricane. The high waves produced by Luis caused the ship to turn on one side by 7°. In addition, a 95 foot rogue wave crashed into the bow of the ocean liner. At about the same time, a Canadian buoy reported a wave as high as 98 feet.

Newfoundland

On September 11, as Luis was becoming extratropical, it passed over southeastern Newfoundland as a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Luis produced strong winds, high waves, and 2 to 5 inches of rain to the Avalon Peninsula. One person died, and total damage was $2,000,000 (1995 USD).

Retirement

Due to the damage and loss of life, the name Luis was retired in the Spring of 1996 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was replaced with Lorenzo for the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season. It was used during that season. Lorenzo was used again during the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

1995 Atlantic hurricane season

References

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/1995luis.html

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

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