Hurricane Roxanne was the seventeenth named storm, tenth hurricane, and fifth major hurricane of the 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. Roxanne formed on October 7 while located just east of Nicaragua. Roxanne became a tropical storm on October 9. Initially, Roxanne was forecast to threaten Cuba and the Cayman Islands, but it made an abrupt course change and turned westward, striking the Yucatan Peninsula just prior to becoming a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 mph. After Roxanne emerged into the Bay of Campeche, it still retained hurricane status, in spite of being overland for 24 hours. Roxanne then moved very slowly and erratically across the Gulf of Mexico until it dissipated in the Bay of Campeche on October 22. Roxanne was the first Atlantic hurricane to form in October and reach major hurricane status since Hurricane Hattie in 1961.

Roxanne caused 14 deaths, all direct. In addition, it caused $1.5 billion (1995 USD) in damage.

Hurricane Roxanne at 1855 UTC October 10
FormationOctober 7, 1995
Dissipation October 22, 1995
Highest winds 115 mph
Lowest pressure 956 mbar
Deaths 14 direct
Damages $1.5 billion (1995 USD)
Areas affectedYucatan Peninsula
Part of the 1995 Atlantic hurricane season

Meteorological History

As early as October 6, radiosonde data from the western Carribean Sea indicated a broad well-defined low- to mid-level cyclonic circulation with cloudiness as well as showers between the Cayman Islands and Honduras. A vigorous tropical wave, which emerged off the coast of Africa on September 26, became convectively active over the central Carribean Sea on October 4. Early on October 7, the wave entered the western Carribean Sea and interacted with the pre-existing area of disturbed weather. A slow, westward-moving upper-level trough was located over the Windward Passage during that time, to the east of an upper-level anticyclone over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and left by Hurricane Opal. The combination of the trough and the anticyclone resulted in diffluent northerly winds over the low-level disturbance in the western Carribean Sea. On October 6, National Hurricane Center surface analysis indicated a broad 1004 mb low not too far offshore the eastern coast of Nicaragua. Surface winds with the disturbance were only 10 to 15 knots, however. Satellite imagery showed that the disturbance gradually became better organized, and banding features began to develop within the low early on October 7 when the aforementioned tropical wave reached the area. At 1800 UTC October 7, it is estimated that the complex system developed into Tropical Depression Nineteen while located just east of Nicaragua. The next day, reconnaissance aircraft confirmed the existance of the tropical cyclone with a pressure of 1004 mb and sustained surface winds of 35 mph. Satellite images as well as surface observations indicated steady intensification at this time. At 0000 UTC October 9, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Roxanne. By 0600 UTC October 10, Roxanne became a hurricane. During this period, data from a reconnaissance aircraft indicated that the central pressure dropped to 989 mb and by 1200 UTC October 10, the pressure dropped all the way down to 972 mb. Prior to the cyclone's intensification, the low-level circulation center was located along the northern portion of the deep convection due to northerly wind shear aloft produced by the anticyclone over the Gulf of Mexico.

However, the trough previously located over the Windward Passage became a cutoff low and moved west-southwest into Central America, which allowed the upper-level outflow to became established in all quadrants of the cyclone. Initially, Roxanne was a threat to Cuba and the Cayman Islands as it moved northward in response to a weak trough over Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. As the trough moved eastward, it was replaced by a high pressure system. Because of this, Roxanne made an abrupt course change and turned to the northwest and then westward towards the Yucatan Peninsula, intensifying as it did so. A similar abrupt course change, not expected by climatology, was taken by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. During the afternoon of October 10, a well-defined eye became evident on satellite imagery. Roxanne reached its peak of 115 mph, Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, along with a pressure of 956 mb at around 2152 UTC while located just to the southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. At 0200 UTC October 11, Roxanne made landfall just north of Tulum on the mainland, just to the southwest of Cozumel. Roxanne continued westward across the Yucatan Peninsula and emerged into the Bay of Campeche as a minimal hurricane. Roxanne then briefly weakened to a tropical storm, but once the circulation was completely over water, Roxanne regained hurricane status and maintained it for about 60 hours. Roxanne then gradually weakened to a tropical storm, and then to a tropical depression. Steering currents were weak when Roxanne entered the Bay of Campeche.

As a result, the cyclone meandered in an area of less than 250 miles for almost a week. During that period, several shortwave troughs and ridges rapidly passed to the north of the cyclone, forcing the cyclone to move either southeastward or northwestward. Rainbands as well as waves of 15 to 20 feet were pounding coastal sections from Campeche to Veracruz. Eventually, Roxanne was forced to move southward towards Veracruz by an approaching strong cold front. Roxanne dissipated on October 21, and its remnants moved southwestward into Mexico.


Because of Roxanne's unpredictability, many watches and warnings were issued. As Roxanne approached Cozumel, a Hurricane Warning was issued 23 hours before landfall. When Roxanne entered the Gulf of Mexico, watches and warnings were almost continually being issued, discontinued, and re-issued for nearly 10 days as the cyclone moved slowly and erratically in the Bay of Campeche.


Hurricane Roxanne caused 14 deaths, with 5 of them coming from the sinking of a petroleum barge with 245 people on board. Significant damage occured in several states of Mexico, with over 40,000 homes being destroyed in the Mexican states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Veracruz, and Yucatán. Roxanne destroyed crops, drowned cattle, and washed out roads or blocked them via mudslides. The road between the city of Carmen and Campeche was completely destroyed by the hurricane. There are unconfirmed reports that many hotel lobbies in Cancun and Cozumel were damaged by high waves. Rainfall as well as storm surge combined with overflowing rivers produced the worst flooding in Campeche since 1927. The highest rainfall total recorded was 26.61 inches at Silvituc/Champoton. Also, the storm surge produced by Roxanne pounded the Mexican coast for several days, and waters from the Gulf surged inland hundreds of yards.

Roxanne struck an area that had been directly struck by Hurricane Opal just a few weeks earlier and all damage could not be sorted out from Opal and Roxanne. Total damage from Roxanne is estimated to be at $1.5 billion (1995 USD).


Rainfall totals from Hurricane Roxanne.


Due to the damage, the name Roxanne was retired in the Spring of 1996 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was replaced with Rebekah for the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season. Rebekah was not used in 2001, nor was it used during the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season, and thus it is on the list of names to be used for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

1995 Atlantic hurricane season


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