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Tropical Storm Odette was the fifteenth named storm of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. Odette was a rare off-season tropical cyclone that developed during the month of December in the Carribean Sea, becoming the first tropical cyclone to form in the Carribean Sea during the month of December. Odette formed on December 4 northeast of the coast of Panama. Odette eventually made landfall in the Dominican Republic, and it became an extratropical cyclone on December 7, but its remnants persisted until December 9.

Odette caused 10 fatalities; 8 direct, 2 indirect. It also caused $8,000,000 (2003 USD) in damage.

Odette approaching the Dominican Republic on December 6
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FormationDecember 4, 2003
Dissipation December 9, 2003
Highest winds 65 mph
Lowest pressure 993 mbar
Deaths 8 direct, 2 indirect
Damages $8,000,000 (2003 USD)
Areas affectedDominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico
Part of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season


Meteorological History

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By November 30, the very last day of the Atlantic hurricane season, a stationary front extended across eastern Cuba into the southwestern Carribean Sea. An area of low pressure developed within the front just north of Panama on December 1, and an anticyclone aloft allowed the low to have good upper-level outflow. For the next several days, the low remained nearly stationary, gradually becoming detached from the front during those several days. Due to moisture from the Eastern Pacific Ocean, convection associated with the low increased; moderate divergence also played a part. On December 2, strong upper-level wind shear disrupted the low, though convection was able to redevelop over the low as it drifted northeast. A mid-level circulation developed about 140 miles north of the low-level center on December 3. As a weak tropical wave entered the area, convection associated with the low increased, and it is estimated that the system became Tropical Depression Twenty at around 1200 UTC December 4 while located about 345 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica; initially, the depression was forecast to move north-northeast and make landfall in western Haiti. After becoming a depression, the system was embedded within an environment of southwesterly flow between a ridge over the eastern Carribean Sea, and a mid-latitude trough, which produced a steady east-northeast motion of the storm. The depression continued to organize, developing a Central Dense Overcast (CDO) as well as a well-defined cloud band which wrapped partially around the circulation center. This, combined with Dvorak estimates, prompted the National Hurricane Center to classify the depression as Tropical Storm Odette late on December 4. After becoming a tropical storm, Odette continued to intensify, in spite of moderate southwesterly wind shear aloft. An eye feature became evident on microwave imagery. In addition to this, about three fourths of a mid-level eyewall developed within Odette. At this point, the cyclone's maximum sustained surface winds were estimated at 40 to 50 mph, although the NHC concluded that they could've been stronger due to lack of structural data. The convective structure of Odette deteriorated a bit, the eye feature disappearing as a result.

The hurricane hunters first flew into Odette at around 1200 UTC December 5. Odette moved over an area of warm water temperatures, and the overall cloud pattern of the storm became better organized; at this point, the GFDL predicted that Odette would reach hurricane status. Early on December 6, a TRMM overpass showed that Odette had an 80% closed eyewall, and at 0600 UTC that same day, it is estimated that Odette reached its peak intensity of 65 mph while located about 245 miles southwest of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Upon reaching its peak intensity, Odette began to accelerate to the northeast. During this time, wind shear decreased, which allowed the outflow along the southwestern portion of the storm to become slightly better defined. Odette decelerated as it approached Hispaniola, although the convection continued quickly northeastward ahead of the low-level circulation. Because of the convection racing ahead of the low-level center, Odette weakened slightly before making landfall at Jaragua National Park, in the Pedernales Province of the Dominican Republic, around 2300 UTC on December 6 with winds of 60 mph. The circulation of the cyclone became disrupted as it crossed Hispaniola and it emerged into the Atlantic Ocean with winds of only 45 mph on December 7. Odette accelerated northeast ahead of an approaching cold front, and late on December 7, Odette became an extratropical cyclone as its circulation center became embedded within the cold front. Odette's remnants contined swiftly northeastward before losing their identity within the front on December 9; the front that absorbed Odette also spawned Tropical Storm Peter a few days later.

Preparations

Prior to Odette's predicted landfall, the government of the Dominican Republic issued an evacuation for more than 10,000 residents, mostly those living near rivers. At least 2,000 shelters were set up, capable of housing up to 800,000 people. In addition, the government mobilized the army to force unwilling residents to leave their homes. Such precautions were taken due to already saturated ground from heavy rains three weeks prior to the cyclone's formation.

A Tropical Storm Watch was issued between between Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic/Haiti border on December 4, 56 hours prior to the cyclone's landfall. On December 5, 32 hours before Odette's landfall, the watch was upgraded to a warning. Also, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued for all of Haiti and Jamaica.

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Odette over the southern Carribean Sea.

Impact

While located over the southwestern Carribean Sea, including before its formative stage, Odette produced heavy rainfall. For several days, the cyclone produced rains in Panama, Costa Rica, and the eastern coast of Nicaragua. In Colombia, Odette produced rainfall amounts as high as 8 inches in the city of Puerto Columbiana. On the island of Jamaica, Odette produced moderate rainfall, which flooded several roads in Saint Ann and Saint Mary Parishes. Odette also caused moderate damage and killed 8 people in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, where Odette made its landfall, the cyclone produced moderately strong winds, with a peak gust of 60 mph occuring at Santo Domingo. Odette also dropped heavy rains for several hours, amounting to a maximum amount of 9.07 inches at Isla Saona; several other locations reported over 4 inches of rain from the cyclone. The heavy rainfall caused flash flooding and mudslides, which forced several rivers to overflow their banks in combination with the previous heavy rains in the country. A tornado was reported near Santo Domingo, which destroyed one home and uproofed several others. The flooding and mudslides damaged up to 60,000 homes and destroyed 34. In addition, gusty winds caused power outages in the country. Also, river flooding caused the collapse of two bridges, which isolated several communities. Landslides also buried several roads, although the authorities quickly repaired them. The heavy rains also flooded some fields, which caused severe crop damage. As much as 85% of the banana crop was destroyed by the storm, while the coffee crop suffered losses shortly before the harvest season. Total crop damage reached $8,000,000 (2003 USD). Also, excess flooding contaminated water supplies, leaving several areas without clean water or sanitation.

In all, Odette killed 8 people in the Dominican Republic and injured 14 people, mainly due to flash flooding and mudslides. Odette also caused two indirect deaths in the country due to heart attacks. Nearby Haiti received little impact from the cyclone.

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Flooding in the Dominican Republic from Odette.

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Although Odette passed 280 miles to the west of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, it produced moderate rainfall across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The southeastern portion of Puerto Rico received the heaviest rainfall from Odette, reaching a peak of 8.73 inches at Jajome Alto. Odette also produced 2.2 inches of rain in Christiansted, Saint Croix. Rainfall from Odette caused rivers to flood throughout Puerto Rico. The river flooding destroyed three bridges, causing $20,000 (2003 USD) in damage. The flooding also caused a mudslide near a cemetery in Humacao. The heavy rainfall flooded numerous roads, but overall damage was minimal in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands from Tropical Storm Odette.

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Rainfall totals from Tropical Storm Odette.

Lack of Retirement

Because of the lack of significant damage, the name Odette was not retired in the Spring of 2004 by the World Meteorological Organization. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

2003 Atlantic hurricane season

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_Storm_Odette_%282003%29

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