Hurricane Georges

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This article is about the hurricane of 1998. For other storms of the same name, see Hurricane Georges (disambiguation).

Hurricane Georges
Hurricane Georges shortly after 5th landfall

Hurricane Georges shortly after 5th landfall
Duration Sept. 15 - 29, 1998
Highest winds 155 mph (250 km/h) sustained
Damages $7-9 billion (2005 dollars)
Fatalities 602 direct
Areas affected Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Florida Keys, Mississippi, Alabama
Part of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Georges was the second most destructive storm of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the sixth storm to make landfall in the United States this season. It also would affect six different countries, more than any other hurricane in years, and more than any other hurricane since. It was the only known Cape Verde-type hurricane to form in the 1998 season.


Major Hurricane

Georges on September 19
Georges on September 19

Georges became a major hurricane early in the afternoon on September 19 with 125 mph (200 km/h) winds. Shipping reports estimated that the storm had winds of 150 mph by 11:00 P.M. that night.

The next day, hurricane hunter data showed that the storm was weakened slightly to 135 mph. Georges was now nearing the Leeward Islands. However, the storm strayed north of the islands and headed towards Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Cuba.

Devastation in Hispanola

Georges slammed into Puerto Rico crossing the island completely. It caused nearly $1 billion in damage. Next, Georges crossed the mountainous terrain of Hispanola completely. 533 deaths were directly attributed to Georges in Hispanola (266 in the Dominican Republic and 267 in Haiti), and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Georges weakened some more, dropping from 120 to 115 mph while crossing Puerto Rico and then down to 75 mph while approaching Cuba.

Georges in the United States

Hurricane Georges landfalling at Key West on September 25th.
Hurricane Georges landfalling at Key West on September 25th.

Georges sideswiped Cuba on the 24th and made a direct hit on the Florida Keys. Schools were closed in the southern part of the state. However, Miami, Florida and Key Biscayne got squally weather. Georges then moved northwest towards Biloxi, Mississippi where it would make landfall for a fifth time. Georges ravaged many towns in Mississippi with its winds, and storm surge. An occasional tornado wasn't out of the question, either. Damages were not only limited to Mississippi however, as the majority of storm surge damage was seen in the Mobile Bay area, especially hard hit was the barrier island of Dauphin Island, as well as communities immediately adjoining Mobile Bay including Downtown Mobile. The storm surge in some areas topped 10 feet.

President Clinton declared most of the state a disaster area. It caused $31 million dollars in damage in several counties in Mississippi. Georges dissipated near the Alabama-Georgia border on September 29.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, the Louisiana Superdome was, for the first time in its history, used as a refuge of last resort for those unable to evacuate New Orleans; more than 14,000 citizens rode out the storm in the facility. The building had no problems related to the weather, but there was looting that significantly damaged the building, although nothing on the scale of the damage to the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Overall, Georges caused $5.9 billion in damage to the United States and its possessions, making it the third costliest hurricane to affect the US in the 20th century.

The name Georges was retired in the spring of 1999 and was replaced with Gaston in the 2004 season.

In an interesting piece of sports trivia, Georges greatly affected the 1998 college football season, as undefeated UCLA had been originally been scheduled to play Miami at the Orange Bowl Stadium in late September, but the game was postponed until December due to the danger that Georges posed to Florida. UCLA entered the game against Miami with a #1 ranking and a 10-0 record in December, but were defeated by the Hurricanes, eliminating them from the national championship race.

See also

Tropical cyclones of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season















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