Tropical Storm Olga was the fifteenth named storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. Olga was a rare off-season storm that developed on December 11 just east of Puerto Rico. Olga initially started out as a subtropical cyclone, but as it made landfall along the eastern end of the Dominican Republic, it became a tropical cyclone. Olga peaked at 60 mph, and although it emerged over water south of the eastern tip of Cuba, it succumbed to strong vertical shear and dissipated on December 13 south of eastern Cuba.
Olga caused 40 deaths, becoming the deadliest December tropical cyclone on record in the Atlantic. The previous record was held by Tropical Storm Odette. Olga caused $45,000,000 (2007 USD) in damage.
|Formation||December 11, 2007|
|Dissipation||December 13, 2007|
|Highest winds||60 mph|
|Damages||$45,000,000 (2007 USD)|
|Areas affected||Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Cuba, Florida, Bahamas|
|Part of the||2007 Atlantic hurricane season|
Olga developed via interaction with an upper-level low and a low-level trough over the central Atlantic Ocean. Early on December 6, a broad upper-level low developed over the east-central Atlantic along an associated low-level trough was from 35°W between 20°N and 30°N. These two features moved westward in tandem at 15 to 20 knots over the next couple days. On December 8, convection developed in the vicinity of the upper low and associated surface trough. By December 10, a broad area of low pressure developed about 350 miles east of Puerto Rico, and although convection remained disorganized at this time, the low was producing gale force winds north of the center. At around 0000 UTC December 11, satellite imagery as well as radar data from San Juan, Puerto Rico, along with nearby surface observations from the Virgin Islands, indicated the system had developed a well-defined surface circulation along with sufficiently organized convection close enough to the center to merit being classified as Subtropical Storm Olga while located about 50 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Because Olga's surface low was still associated with an upper-level low, it was designated subtropical rather than tropical. In addition to involvement with the upper low, the strongest winds were around 175 miles away from the center, which is also indicative of a subtropical cyclone. Under the influence of a low- to mid-level ridge to its north, Olga moved westward along the northern coast of Puerto Rico on December 11. It made landfall along the north central coast of Puerto Rico around 0700 UTC that day. Later that day, satellite imagery indicated that convection associated with Olga had increased near the center, and surface observations along with data from the ASCAT indicated that Olga's radius of maximum winds had decreased.
By the time Olga had made landfall along the eastern end of the Dominican Republic just south of Punta Cana at 1800 UTC December 11, it had made the transition into a tropical storm, reaching a peak intensity of 60 mph. In spite of moving across the mountainous terrain of the Dominican Republic and Hispaniola, Olga maintained peak intensity for around 12 hours while moving across eastern Hispaniola, with the strongest winds remaining offshore in the areas of deepest convection. Olga finally started to weaken as it was centered across central Hispaniola, and by the time it had emerged over water along the Windward Passage around 1200 UTC December 12, it had weakened to a minimal tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Six hours later, Olga weakened to a tropical depression, and degenerated into a remnant low the next day, while centered just north of the island of Jamaica. Olga's remnants continued northwest across the Carribean Sea over the next couple of days. By December 15, the low moved northwest and then north around the western periphery of a low- to mid-level ridge. Later that day and early on December 16, Olga's remnants accelerated northeastward ahead of an approaching cold front, during which time it produced somewhat organized convection. Satellite imagery as well as radar data from Tampa, Florida indicate that a small circulation associated with the remnants of Olga crossed the west-central coast of Florida just north of Tampa around 1000 UTC December 16. During this time, Olga's remnants interacted with an intense squall line that was draped across north-central Florida. Interaction between these two features caused hurricane force wind gusts in Clearwater Beach.
Within two hours of crossing the coast, Olga's remnants were absorbed by the aforementioned cold front.
The Tropical Prediction Center issued a gale warning on December 10 for waters north of the Lesser Antilles as well as the Dominican Republic. Upon being classified a subtropical cyclone, the government of the Dominican Republic issued a Tropical Storm Warning from Cabo Engaño to the Haiti border, with a Tropical Storm Watch being posted along the southern shoreline near Santo Domingo. Because Olga's strongest winds were well to the north of the center, a Tropical Storm Warning was not issued for Puerto Rico. Prior to coming ashore, the government of Haiti issued a Tropical Storm Warning for the northern coast. Later on, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued for the Turks and Caicos Islands, along with the southeastern Bahamas.
The National Weather Service in San Juan issued a Flood Watch for the entire country, which included the islands of Culebra and Vieques. Prolonged periods of heavy rain also led to the issuance of Flash Flood Warnings for portions of the island. Ferry service between Fajardo and Culebra and Vieques was temporarily halted during Olga's onslaught. Officials in the Dominican Republic opened storm shelters in 15 provinces, with residents living in low-lying areas advised to evacuate during Olga's passage; residents in a total of 22 communities were evacuated because of the threat from Olga.
In Puerto Rico, Olga produced moderate rainfall, peaking at 11.13 inches near Ponce. The heavy rains resulted in increased river levels, including the Arecibo Big River, which was reported to be several feet above flood stage. Olga left around 79,000 people without electricity, and around 144,000 without water. Along the northern portion of the island, heavy rains produced a mudslide that buried an automobile, killing the driver inside.
Rainfall totals in Puerto Rico from Tropical Storm Olga.
Dominican Republic and Haiti
In the Dominican Republic, Olga produced heavy rainfall, with isolated amounts of 10 inches occurring. The heavy rain resulted in flooding along the Yaque del Norte River, and initially, it appeared as if the Tavera Dam along the river would fail, which would potentially kill thousands in the Santiago Province. At 0400 UTC December 12, officials opened all six floodgates, releasing around 1.6 million gallons of water into the river every second. The resulting deluge created a 66 foot wall of water that caught many off guard due to the time of night and only about 15 minutes to prepare, according to eyewitnesses who criticized the decision; the flooding killed at least 35 people and left homes in seven towns flooded. Elsewhere in the country, two additional deaths were reported, and more than 34,000 residents left their homes. In addition, Olga damaged more than 7,500 homes. Total damage in the country reached $45,000,000 (2007 USD).
In nearby Haiti, two deaths were reported in the northern portion of the country.
Florida and the Bahamas
While it was still moving across the western Carribean Sea, an associated trough in the northeastern portion of Olga's remnants produced heavy rainfall beginning on December 14, reaching 7.08 inches at Nettles Island, Florida. As Olga's remnants approached Florida, it intensified, and Clearwater Beach recorded sustained winds of 45 mph, with gusts to hurricane force (78 mph), along with a central pressure of 1002 mb. Olga's remnants became ill-defined as a vigorous cold front approached, and within two hours of the coast, Olga's remnants became absorbed by the front before they could reach the state's Space Coast.
Rainfall totals in Florida from Olga's remnants.
In the Turks and Caicos, sustained winds of 36 mph were reported at a station.
Lack of Retirement
Because damage was not extreme, the name Olga was not retired in the Spring of 2008 by the World Meteorological Organization. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.