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Tropical Storm Gamma was the twenty-fourth named storm of the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, forming in the middle of November in the Carribean Sea from a tropical wave which exited the coast of Africa on November 3. Gamma degenerated back into a depression from a tropical storm in the central Carribean Sea, but regenerated north of Honduras. Gamma never made landfall, but it caused minor damage in the Lesser Antilles, as well as moderate damage in Honduras. Gamma killed 37 people directly, and 4 people indirectly, and caused $18,000,000 in damage (2005 USD).

Tropical Storm Gamma in the Gulf of Honduras
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Formation November 13, 2005
Dissipation November 20, 2005
Highest winds 50 mph
Lowest pressure 1002 mbar
Deaths 37 direct, 4 indirect
Damages $18,000,000 (2005 USD)
Areas affected Lesser Antilles, Honduras, Belize

Meteorological History

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On November 3, a vigorous tropical wave exited the coast of Africa and began heading westward across the Atlantic Ocean without any development. Despite the wave being a late-season wave, the wave maintained an unusually large amount of deep convection as it made its way through the Atlantic Ocean. The wave reached the Windward Islands 10 days later, where it produced wind gusts to near tropical-storm force as it passed through the Windward Islands, as well as locally heavy rainfall. A broad and poorly-defined low-pressure area developed along the southern portion of the wave late that same day when it was over the extreme southeastern Carribean Sea. Deep convection had previously been pushed to the east of the wave, due to strong wind shear over the wave. However, deep convection now began to develop close to the center of the low-pressure system, which now had a surface low associated with it, and it is estimated that Tropical Depression Twenty-Seven developed at 0000 UTC on November 14 located about 85 miles west of St. Vincent.

The depression was forecast to intensify at this point to a strong tropical storm, and possibly a hurricane as it moved westward through the Carribean Sea. However, a second system that was developing in the southwestern portion of the Carribean Sea began to bring wind shear over the depression, which resulted in the collapse of the circulation on November 16, thus turning the depression back into a tropical wave, with advisories being temporarily discontinued. On post-season analysis, it was found out that the depression had likely reached tropical storm strength by November 15 at 0600 UTC for less than 6 hours, but it had not been named at the time despite that (technically, it was Tropical Storm Twenty-Seven at this point).

Twenty-Seven continued to head westward through the Carribean Sea, with the system that brought shear to Twenty-Seven moving into Nicaragua, causing it to quickly weaken, thus shear relaxed over the storm as a result. When Twenty-Seven was near Honduras, the two systems combined and rapidly acquired the characteristics of a tropical system on November 18, when the system was upgraded to a tropical storm, receiving the name Gamma. After forming, Gamma strengthened slightly to reach its peak intensity of 50 mph and a pressure of 1002 mb the same day it was named. However, a trough moving into the Gulf of Mexico prevented further development of the system. Gamma meandered just north of Honduras for about a day, weakening back to a tropical depression as it began to be absorbed into the front as it entered the Carribean Sea.

On November 20, strong wind shear tore what was left of Gamma apart, and advisories were discontinued. However, the low-level circulation persisted for another 36-48 hours. Shortly afterward, Gamma's remnants were absorbed into the approaching frontal boundary.

Preparations

In Honduras, few people prepared for Gamma, since it was not forecast to make (and it didn't) landfall. Constant rainfall from Gamma for well over a day as Gamma meandered north of the country, forced 23,000 people to flee from their homes.

Impact

Death toll

As of January 24, 2006, the death toll for Tropical Storm Gamma stands at 37 direct deaths, and 4 indirect deaths, mostly in Honduras, with 13 people missing in Honduras.

Carribean Islands

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the island of Bequia two people were killed by a mudslide by the then Tropical Depression Twenty-Seven passed the region. Also, several homes were destroyed by floodwaters in the region, with other homes being damaged. Other effects of the storm across other areas of the Lesser Antilles were minimal, being no greater than that of a normal rain event. Finally, the death of two fisherman were reported to be in association with Gamma.

Honduras

In Honduras, 34 people died with at least 13 other people missing, with all deaths being due to flooding and mudslides. Tropical-storm force winds did not impact Honduras. According to the COCEP, the Honduras civil emergency committee, dozens of bridges were washed away, and about 2,000 homes were destroyed in the country as a result of Gamma. According to the National Hurricane Center, 10 bridges were destroyed because of Gamma's heavy rainfall, and 7 bridges were damaged because of Gamma. Also, 5,200 acres worth of banana crops was destroyed, amounting to $13 to $18 million (2005 USD) in damage in the country. Also, floods covered most of the Islas de la Bahía department. Finally, an unofficial report of 4.44" of rain was repoted on Roatan Island.

Belize

In Belize, five fisherman who were at sea during the storm were reported to be missing, and, as of November 25, 2005, were feared dead pending examination of five unidentified bodies off the coast of Honduras. It is likely that these five bodies were the fisherman at sea during the storm. Also, three people were killed in a plane crash when they were in Gamma's outer rainbands.

Naming and Records

Because all of the 21 names used to name tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin were used up, the Greek Alphabet had to be used to name future storms, the previous two being Alpha and Beta. When Gamma was named, it was the first time worldwide that a tropical cyclone had been given the name Gamma.

Besides being the 24th tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin (which never happened before in any season on record in the Atlantic), Gamma also holds the record for being the earliest 24th named storm on record, reaching tropical storm strength on November 18. Also, Gamma extended the record activity of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season to 24 tropical cyclones, tying the record (at the time) set by the 1992 Pacific hurricane season of 24 tropical storms. Not surprisingly, this record of 24 tropical cyclones was later broken by 3 more tropical cyclones, as well as the unnamed subtropical storm of this season, bringing the total amount of storms in the 2005 season to a record 28.

See Also

2005 Atlantic hurricane season

References

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

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL282005_Gamma.pdf

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