Hurricane Marilyn was the thirteenth named storm, seventh hurricane, and third major hurricane of the 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. Marilyn formed on September 12 well to the east of the Leeward Islands. Marilyn moved northwest and passed through the central portion of the Leeward Islands as a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Marilyn then passed north of Puerto Rico as a Category 2 hurricane. Marilyn reached Category 3 status for a short time before weakening back to a Category 2. Marilyn gradually recurved out to sea and became extratropical on September 22.

Marilyn killed 13 people, all directly. In addition, the cyclone caused $1.5 billion (1995 USD).

Marilyn at 1811 UTC September 16
FormationSeptember 12, 1995
Dissipation September 22, 1995
Highest winds 115 mph
Lowest pressure 949 mbar
Deaths 13 direct
Damages $1.5 billion (1995 USD)
Areas affectedLeeward Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Bermuda
Part of the 1995 Atlantic hurricane season

Meteorological History


Marilyn originated from a tropical wave that exited the coast of Africa and entered the eastern tropical Atlantic on September 7-8. The wave was accompanied by a large swirl of low- to mid-level clouds, but it had little deep convection at the time. Over the next few days, the wave moved quickly to the west at a speed of 17 knots under upper-level easterlies on the south side of a well-defined anticyclone aloft, which also moved westward in tandem with the wave. On September 11, the first Dvorak classifications were taken on the wave, and although the circulation center was disorganized at that time, deep convection and became concentrated near the center on September 12. Based on satellite pictures, the wave became Tropical Depression Fifteen at 1800 UTC September 12. Six hours later, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Marilyn. At 0000 UTC September 14, just four hours after becoming a tropical storm, Marilyn attained hurricane status shortly after the hurricane hunters found a closed eyewall on their first flight into the cyclone. Over the next three days, Marilyn gradually changed its track and moved to the west-northwest and then northwest as it moved into a weakness in the subtropical ridge located over the central Atlantic Ocean. Marilyn continued to intensify during that time, but at a slower pace during that period. When it passed about 45 miles north of Barbados on September 14, Marilyn was a Category 1 hurricane. It also passed just north of Martinique, passed over Dominica, and then just to the southwest of Guadeloupe. Marilyn continued moving northwest over the northeastern Carribean Sea. During the afternoon and evening of September 15, Marilyn struck the U.S. Virgin Islands as a strengthening Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. During this time, hurricane hunters reported hail, which is an unusual occurence in tropical cyclones. In addition, they reported an eye of 20 miles in diameter. The strongest part of the cyclone, the eyewall to the east and northeast of the circulation center, passed over the island of St. Thomas. At that time, maximum sustained surface winds were estimated at 110 mph, just under Category 3 strength.


Hurricane Marilyn at 0315 UTC September 16.

After passing just offshore from eastern Puerto Rico on September 16, Marilyn was once again over the Atlantic Ocean. An upper-level low had developed to the west of the cyclone and this might have enhanced the upper-level outflow over the storm. On September 17, an eye became distinct in satellite imagery, and Marilyn reached its peak intensity of 115 mph with a pressure of 949 mb as it began to move northward. Flight-level data showed evidence of a concentric pair of eyewall wind maxima. In addition, reconnaissance aircraft reported weakening later that day. The central pressure rose about 20 mb in just 10 hours, and the peak flight-level winds decreased from 121 knots to 89 knots. The inner eyewall deteroriated into a few fragments. The weakening was likely caused by a combination of strong vertical wind shear, upwelled cooler water left behind by Hurricane Luis (on the order of 1 to 3°C below average), which had passed through nearly the same area earlier in the month, and the decaying phase of an eyewall cycle. Late on September 18, Marilyn began accelerating north-northeast and it passed about 150 miles west of Bermuda on September 19. Marilyn made a brief comeback, with an eye becoming discernable in satellite imagery. However, strong upper-level westerly wind shear began to disrupt Marilyn, causing the low-level circulation center to become partially exposed.

Late on September 21, Marilyn ceased generating deep convection and became extratropical on September 22. The remnant circulation meandered over the Atlantic Ocean for the next 10 days before becoming absorbed by a frontal zone.



Marilyn hitting the Virgin Islands on September 15.

A total of 17 watches and warnings were issued in association with Marilyn. The first two were Tropical Storm Watches issued for Barbados, St. Vincent, Grenadines, St. Lucia and Grenada at 2200 UTC September 12. Five hours later, a Tropical Storm Watch was issued for Trinidad and Tobago. At 0900 UTC September 13, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued for St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenadines, and Tobago. At 2100 UTC September 13, a Hurricane Warning was issued for Barbados, St. Vincent, Grenadines, and St. Lucia. In addition, a Hurricane Watch was issued for Dominica at this time. On September 14, a Hurricane Watch was issued for Martinique. The 2100 UTC September 13 Hurricane Warning was extended for the Grenadines through St. Martin, except Guadeloupe, St. Barthelemy and French portion of St. Martin. At 1500 UTC, Puerto Rico was placed under a Hurricane Watch. At 1700 UTC, Guadeloupe, St. Barthelemy, as well as the French portion of St. Martin were put under a Hurricane Watch. Four hours later, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, and the British Virgin Islands were placed under a Hurricane Warning.

Throughout the night, several watches and warnings were discontinued. At 1500 UTC September 15, the Dominican Republic was placed under a Hurricane Watch which extended from Cabrera to Cabo Engano. During the night of September 16, all active watches and warnings were discontinued. At around the same time, a new Hurricane Watch was issued for the Turks and Caicos Islands, along with Mayaguana, Acklins, and the Crooked Islands of the southeastern Bahamas. Within 48 hours, the watch was discontinued. At 1500 UTC September 18, the island of Bermuda was placed under a Tropical Storm Watch, which was upgraded to a Tropical Storm Warning six hours later. The warning was discontinued on September 19.

The 250,000 residents of Barbados spent the night in shelters on September 13.


Hurricane Marilyn caused significant damage as well as 13 deaths in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.


In Martinique, Marilyn produced heavy rainfall which peaked at 9.06 inches at Morne Rouge, 8.94 inches at Ajoupa Bouillon, 6.40 inches in Saint Pierre, and 6.00 inches at Ducos. The highest sustained wind reported in Martinique was at Trinite, the only location that recorded sustained winds on the island. Sustained winds were 58 mnph there.


Rainfall totals in Guadeloupe reached 20 inches at Saint Claude, 19.09 inches at Guillard Basse Terre, and 17.63 inches at Gaba. The highest wind gust reported on Guadeloupe from Marilyn was 84 mph in Marie Galante. A 70 mph gust was reported at Raizet, and a 61 mph wind gust was reported in Desirade. The highest sustained winds on the island were 51 mph, observed at Marie Galante.

U.S. Virgin Islands

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Marilyn produced sustained winds as high as 100 mph on St. Croix. The highest rainfall totals from the storm on the islands was 11.67 inches at Annaly, 9.96 inches at Red Hook Bay, and 5.25 inches at Granard. Thestorm surge reported was 6.6 feet at St. Thomas. According to NOAA, storm surge on the U.S. Virgin Islands was 6 to 7 feet, with an isolated amount of 11.7 feet reported on St. Croix. Rainfall totals reached around 10 inches on St. Croix and St. Thomas. The highest reported wind gusts in association with Marilyn was 129 mph in a Noncommissioned Automated Surface Observing System. In addition, wind gusts of 95 mph occured in Sailboat Puffin at Green Cay. Marilyn produced 105 mph sustained winds in a Noncommissioned Automated Surface Observing System. Marilyn directly killed seven people in the U.S. Virgin Islands, most due to drowning deaths on boats or offshore. 10,000 people were left homeless on St. Thomas, and most buildings experienced some form of damage from the hurricane. St. Thomas was hit hardest by Marilyn, where about 80% of homes as well as businesses were destroyed, including the hospital and the water desalination plant; five people were killed. Storm surge in the Charlotte Amalie harbor breached the USCGC Point Ledge and it damaged many smaller boats. Elsewhere across the U.S. Virgin Islands, significant damage occured on St. Croix and St. John. U.S. President Bill Clinton declared the U.S. Virgin Islands a federal disaster area, making it available to federal aid.


Damage on St. Thomas from Hurricane Marilyn.


A boat used as a billboard during the aftermath of Hurricane Marilyn.

Other Islands

In St. Martin, Marilyn produced sustained winds of 41 mph with gusts of 61 mph. Rainfall totals on the island reached 3.35 inches. The New York Times reported that the British Virgin Islands suffered little to no damage from Marilyn. The highest wind gust in St. Barthelemy was 59 mph, and sustained winds of 45 mph were reported on the island.

Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico, the highest rainfall totals observed from Marilyn were 5.60 inches in Naguabo, 5.50 inches at Luquillo Pico Del Este, 2.52 inches at Luis Munoz International Airport, and 2.45 inches at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. The highest wind gusts reported on the island were 125 mph at Culebra, 60 mph at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, and 50 mph at a Noncommissioned Automated Surface Observing System. The highest sustained winds reported on the island were 41 mph, occuring at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. Also, Marilyn passed over the islands of Vieques and Culebra, where it caused much damage. Also, there were reports of significant flash flooding across the northern and eastern portion of the country, and 12,000 residents were forced to ride out the storm in shelters. One person was killed in Culebra. President Bill Clinton declared Puerto Rico a federal disaster area, allowing residents to apply for federal aid.

Culebra Island

On Culebra Island, located 20 miles east of Puerto Rico, 100 homes were destroyed by Marilyn. Another 200 homes on the island were damaged by the hurricane.


On the island of Antigua, the highest gust reported was 50 mph. The Antigua Meteorological Service reported that the island had extensive flooding as well as damage to banana trees. In addition, wind also caused some damage on the island. Also, Marilyn produced sustained winds of 35 mph on the island.


In Bermuda, Marilyn produced sustained winds of 45 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph.


Due to the damage, the name Marilyn was retired in the Spring of 1996 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was replaced with Michelle for the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season. Michelle was retired in the Spring of 2002 and replaced with Melissa, which was used during the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

1995 Atlantic hurricane season


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