Tropical Storm Arthur was the first named storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Arthur developed offshore the coast of Belize on May 31, and quickly moved onshore. Arthur was the first May tropical storm in the Atlantic since Tropical Storm Arlene in 1981. In addition, Arthur made 2008 the second consecutive year in which a named storm developed in May.
Arthur caused 9 fatalities, 5 direct, and caused $78,000,000 (2008 USD) in damage.
|Formation||May 31, 2008|
|Dissipation||June 1, 2008|
|Highest winds||45 mph|
|Lowest pressure||1004 mbar|
|Deaths||5 direct, 4 indirect|
|Damages||$78,000,000 (2008 USD)|
|Areas affected||Central America|
|Part of the||2008 Atlantic hurricane season|
Arthur developed from the remnants of Eastern Pacific Tropical Storm Alma, namely the low- to mid-level circulation, when they combined with a tropical wave over the northwestern Caribbean Sea. The tropical wave reached the eastern Caribbean on May 27, and entered the western Caribbean on May 30. That day, Alma's remnants moved across Honduras and into the northwestern Caribbean Sea, causing a widespread area of cloudiness and showers. This area of cloudiness triggered a new surface low about 75 miles southeast of Belize. Around 0000 UTC May 31, based on QuikSCAT data as well as ship reports, the system developed into a tropical storm while located just 45 miles east of Belize City, Belize. Arthur moved slowly west-northwest, making landfall near 0900 UTC that day as a 45 mph tropical storm midway between Belize City, Belize, and Chetumal, Mexico. For nearly a day after it had moved inland, Arthur continued to produce bands of convection with tropical storm force winds. However, by 1200 UTC June 1, Arthur weakened to a tropical depression about 15 miles north of the Guatemala/Mexico border. Just 12 hours later, Arthur degenerated into a non-convective remnant low. Arthur's remnants continued westward across Mexico, triggering heavy rains over portions of southern Mexico for the next couple of days.
Due to the threat from Arthur, ports were closed in the Mexican capital of Quintana Roo. In addition, ports were also closed on Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and in Chetumal. Along coastal areas, residents were urged to take precautions for the approaching tropical cyclone. Small vessels were forbidden to leave port, although no evacuation orders were issued. On May 31, at 1700 UTC, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued from the Belize coast all the way to the coast of Mexico south of Cabo Catoche. At 1500 UTC June 1, Arthur weakened to a tropical depression.
Arthur produced rainfall as far south as Belize City. In addition, the cyclone caused rough surf at Ambergris Caye. Arthur's strong winds forced the closure of two of Mexico's three main oil exporting ports in the Gulf of Mexico, due to the rough seas they produced. The remnants of Arthur, combined with heavy rainfall from earlier Tropical Storm Alma, caused flash flooding which overflowed some rivers in portions of southern and northern Belize. Between the two cyclones, around 10 inches of rain fell across this area of Central America. The aforementioned flash flooding caused damage to a bridge and a highway, and also put several other bridges underwater. In addition, a village was evacuated, and storm shelters were opened in Corozal and Orange Walk. Electricity was shut off in rural areas due to safety reasons. Dozens of residents were stranded on their roofs due to floodwaters from Arthur, and efforts to repair an important highway were cut short when floodwaters washed away the repaired section. Also, the papaya plantations, the shrimp farms, and the rice were affected by the cyclone. A total of around 100,000 residents were affected by flooding from Arthur in some form or another. Arthur killed a total of nine people in Central America, five directly. Total damage in Central America from Arthur is estimated at $78,000,000 (2008 USD), mainly in Belize.
Naming and Records
The formation of Arthur marked the first time that a tropical storm had developed during the month of May in the Atlantic since Arlene in 1981. There have been other storms form in May after Arlene, but they were subtropical cyclones. In addition to this, Arthur's May formation marked the second consecutive year in the Atlantic that a named storm developed in May.
Because damage was minimal, the name Arthur was not retired in the Spring of 2009 by the World Meteorological Organization. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.