Hurricane Emily (2005)

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Hurricane Emily
Category 5 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hurricane Emily 16 july 2005 1545Z.jpg
Hurricane Emily near peak intensity south of Jamaica on July 16
FormedJuly 11, 2005
DissipatedJuly 21, 2005
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:160 mph (260 km/h)
Lowest pressure929 mbar (hPa); 27.43 inHg
Fatalities17 total
Damage$1.01 billion (2005 USD)
Areas affected Guyana, Windward Islands, Leeward Antilles, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Colombia, Jamaica, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Texas
Part of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Emily was the earliest forming Category 5 Atlantic hurricane on record in a season and the most intense to form before August. A powerful, early season and Cape Verde tropical cyclone that caused significant damage across the Caribbean Sea to Mexico, the storm formed on July 10, 2005, in the central Atlantic Ocean before passing through the Windward Islands on July 14. Tracking generally towards the west-northwest, the storm gradually intensified as it traversed the Caribbean, peaking as a Category 5 hurricane on July 16, marking the earliest date for a storm to do so during the course of a given year. The system subsequently made landfall in the Yucatán Peninsula as a Category 4. Quickly crossing the peninsula, Emily emerged into the Gulf of Mexico and reorganized. On July 20, the storm struck Tamaulipas as a major hurricane and rapidly dissipated within 24 hours. The storm caused significant damage along its path, with up to $1.01 billion (2005 USD) in damages recorded, as well as causing 17 fatalities. Emily is the latest Category 5 storm to not have its name retired.

Atlantic hurricane season tropical cyclone season

The Atlantic hurricane season is the period in a year when hurricanes usually form in the Atlantic Ocean. Tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic are called hurricanes, tropical storms, or tropical depressions. In addition, there have been several storms over the years that have not been fully tropical and are categorized as subtropical depressions and subtropical storms. Even though subtropical storms and subtropical depressions are not technically as strong as tropical cyclones, the damages can still be devastating.

Cape Verde hurricane

A Cape Verde hurricane, or Cabo Verde hurricane is an Atlantic hurricane that originates at low-latitude in the deep tropics from a tropical wave that has passed over or near the Cape Verde islands after exiting the coast of West Africa. The average hurricane season has about two Cape Verde hurricanes, which are often the largest and most intense storms of the season due to having plenty of warm open ocean over which to develop before encountering land or other factors prompting weakening. A good portion of Cape Verde storms are large, and some, such as Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Irma, have set various records. Most of the longest-lived tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin are Cape Verde hurricanes. While many move harmlessly out to sea, some move across the Caribbean sea and into the Gulf of Mexico, becoming damaging storms for Caribbean nations, Central America, Mexico, Bermuda, the United States, and occasionally even Canada. Research projects since the 1970s have been launched to understand the formation of these storms.

Tropical cyclone Is a rotating storm system

A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain. Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names, including hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, cyclonic storm, tropical depression, and simply cyclone. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, and a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean; in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean, comparable storms are referred to simply as "tropical cyclones" or "severe cyclonic storms".


Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Emily 2005 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

On July 6, a tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa. Moving westward, the disturbance gradually organized until July 10, at which point convection became more concentrated, and it is estimated Tropical Depression Five formed in the central tropical Atlantic that evening. [1] Late on July 11, it strengthened and was named Tropical Storm Emily. Initially forecast to strengthen rapidly and move west-northwest through the Greater Antilles, Emily instead moved almost due west toward the Windward Islands, remaining a moderate tropical storm. The storm languished while moving quickly west, and struggled with maintaining its form. Contrary to the normal occurrence that hurricanes leave a cold wake behind, Hurricane Dennis had made portions of the Caribbean Sea warmer, [2] and therefore more favorable for tropical cyclone development. Late on July 13, Emily strengthened rapidly and reached hurricane strength while passing Tobago and entering the eastern Caribbean. On July 14, Emily made landfall in northern Grenada with 90 mph (145 km/h) winds. [1]

Tropical wave type of atmospheric trough

Tropical waves, easterly waves, or tropical easterly waves, also known as African easterly waves in the Atlantic region, are a type of atmospheric trough, an elongated area of relatively low air pressure, oriented north to south, which moves from east to west across the tropics, causing areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms. West-moving waves can also form from the tail end of frontal zones in the subtropics and tropics, and may be referred to as easterly waves, but these waves are not properly called tropical waves; they are a form of inverted trough sharing many characteristics with fully tropical waves. All tropical waves form in the easterly flow along the equatorward side of the subtropical ridge or belt of high pressure which lies north and south of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Tropical waves are generally carried westward by the prevailing easterly winds along the tropics and subtropics near the equator. They can lead to the formation of tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic and northeastern Pacific basins. A tropical wave study is aided by Hovmöller diagrams, a graph of meteorological data.

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Greater Antilles Region of the Caribbean

The Greater Antilles is a grouping of the larger islands in the Caribbean Sea: Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands.

The intensification trend picked up again the next day with a fairly rapid drop in the storm's central pressure as it entered the southeastern Caribbean Sea, a region typically unfavorable for intensification. Hurricane Emily's winds increased in reaction, briefly bringing the storm to Category 4 strength early on July 15. During the day, the storm's strength fluctuated greatly, dropping to a Category 2 storm and then rebuilding to Category 4. On July 16, Emily strengthened considerably, making it the strongest hurricane ever on record to form in the month of July with peak winds of 160 mph (260 km/h), the earliest known Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin. Initially at this point Emily was thought to have peaked as a Category 4 storm, but the post-storm analysis showed it was indeed a Category 5 hurricane. [1] Unrelated to Emily, Typhoon Haitang developed and intensified into a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon around the same time Emily intensified into a Category 5 hurricane, marking the first time since Typhoons Ivan and Joan in 1997 when two tropical cyclones of Category 5 strength existed simultaneously in the Northern Hemisphere. The storm weakened slightly as it continued westward, and remained a Category 4 while passing south of Jamaica and, on July 17, the Cayman Islands. Hurricane Emily continued on its nearly straight track to the west-northwest, weakening somewhat but remaining at Category 4 until striking Cozumel just before mainland landfall at Playa del Carmen at 06:30 UTC on July 18. Sustained winds were 135 mph (215 km/h), and the eyewall passed directly over Cozumel.

Atmospheric pressure, sometimes also called barometric pressure, is the pressure within the atmosphere of Earth. The standard atmosphere is a unit of pressure defined as 1013.25 mbar (101325 Pa), equivalent to 760 mm Hg (torr), 29.9212 inches Hg, or 14.696 psi. The atm unit is roughly equivalent to the mean sea-level atmospheric pressure on Earth, that is, the Earth's atmospheric pressure at sea level is approximately 1 atm.

Typhoon Haitang (2005) Pacific typhoon in 2005

Typhoon Haitang, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Feria, was the first super typhoon of the 2005 season in the northwestern Pacific. It had winds up to 255 km/h (160 mph) at peak intensity, and caused over 18 serious injuries and 13 confirmed deaths in Taiwan and People's Republic of China. Damage totaled about $1.1 billion (2005 USD), most of which occurred in mainland China.

Typhoon Joan (1997) Pacific typhoon in 1997

Typhoon Joan of October 1997 was the longest-lasting super typhoon at the time, maintaining 1-minute maximum sustained winds of at least 240 km/h (150 mph) for 4.5 days. Joan, concurrently with Typhoon Ivan to its west, also became the strongest typhoons at the same time in the northwest Pacific Ocean. The 25th named storm during the active 1997 Pacific typhoon season, Joan developed from the same trough as Typhoon Ivan on October 11. It moved northwestward and later to the west, undergoing explosive deepening to its peak intensity on October 15. One typhoon warning agency estimated that Joan was among the strongest storms on record in the basin, and that Ivan and Joan marked the first occurrence of simultaneous super typhoons. While near peak intensity, Joan passed between Anatahan and Saipan in the Northern Marianas Islands. Later, the typhoon weakened and turned to the north and east, becoming extratropical on October 24.

Hurricane Emily making landfall on July 18, 2005 Emily stormfloater ir 0718 0645UTC.jpg
Hurricane Emily making landfall on July 18, 2005

The center of circulation emerged over the Gulf of Mexico later that morning. [1] Passage over land disrupted the hurricane's center of circulation, and it had weakened to a minimal hurricane with wind speeds of 75 mph (120 km/h). However, several hours over the warm waters of the western Gulf provided the energy needed for Emily to regenerate, and by midnight wind speeds were increasing. The increase in wind speed stalled, but the storm continued to become better organized. Emily started to show very symmetrical outflow, but the hurricane's strongest winds were being found at three different distances from the center. However, the outer wind radii subsided in the end, and the inner core prevailed. The result was a rapid strengthening of the inner core on the evening of July 19. The pressure dropped about 30 millibars and the winds went from 90 mph (145 km/h) to more than 125 mph (200 km/h), all within a few hours. [1]

Gulf of Mexico An Atlantic Ocean basin extending into southern North America

The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. The U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida border the Gulf on the north, which are often referred to as the "Third Coast", in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Outflow (meteorology) air that flows outwards from a storm system

Outflow, in meteorology, is air that flows outwards from a storm system. It is associated with ridging, or anticyclonic flow. In the low levels of the troposphere, outflow radiates from thunderstorms in the form of a wedge of rain-cooled air, which is visible as a thin rope-like cloud on weather satellite imagery or a fine line on weather radar imagery. Low-level outflow boundaries can disrupt the center of small tropical cyclones. However, outflow aloft is essential for the strengthening of a tropical cyclone. If this outflow is undercut, the tropical cyclone weakens. If two tropical cyclones are in proximity, the upper level outflow from the system to the west can limit the development of the system to the east.

Further strengthening was expected by forecasters, but did not come. [1] The storm's motion slowed, and the center began wobbling erratically toward the coast. The storm made landfall around 11:00 UTC on July 20 near San Fernando in Tamaulipas. The storm had sustained winds of 125 mph (200 km/h), Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. After heading inland over northeast Mexico, it dissipated over the Sierra Madre Oriental on July 21. [1]

San Fernando, Tamaulipas Municipality

San Fernando is a municipality and city located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. It is about 85 miles (137 km) away from Brownsville, Texas. The municipality has a population of 57,220, while the city itself has a population of 29,665.

Tamaulipas State of Mexico

Tamaulipas, officially the Estado Libre y Soberano de Tamaulipas, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 43 municipalities and its capital city is Ciudad Victoria.

Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in Mexico

The Sierra Madre Oriental is a mountain range in northeastern Mexico. The Sierra Madre Oriental is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.


Hurricane Emily, as seen by the US National Weather Service's NEXRAD in Brownsville, Texas at 03:07 UTC July 20. The storm's eye is clearly visible, surrounded by the strong storms of the eyewall. At imaging time, Emily was a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph (205 km) winds, was moving west-northwest at 7 mph (11 km/h), and was roughly 100 miles (160 km) away from the location of landfall. Hurricane Emily on Brownsville NEXRAD at 0307 UTC.png
Hurricane Emily, as seen by the US National Weather Service's NEXRAD in Brownsville, Texas at 03:07 UTC July 20. The storm's eye is clearly visible, surrounded by the strong storms of the eyewall. At imaging time, Emily was a Category 3 hurricane with 125 mph (205 km) winds, was moving west-northwest at 7 mph (11 km/h), and was roughly 100 miles (160 km) away from the location of landfall.

In Mexico, tens of thousands of tourists and residents were evacuated from the beach resorts in and around Cancún, the Riviera Maya, and Cozumel. [3] Hotel guests were evacuated on Saturday afternoon, and staff on Sunday afternoon. Though some hotel guests in second floor rooms and above were given the option to be bussed into the center of Cancun to safe houses and shelters or to stay and wait out the storm in only the modern built hotels and resorts. Most of the remaining guests were restricted to their rooms and were not allowed out on the beach areas. No alcohol was sold in Cancun for 36 hours prior to the arrival of the storm, in an attempt to avoid drunken tourists being injured during the night. Two helicopter pilots were killed when their aircraft crashed while evacuating offshore oil platforms operated by Pemex. A German resident was electrocuted while on his roof in Playa del Carmen. [4]

Cancún City in Quintana Roo, Mexico

Cancún is a city in southeast Mexico on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is a significant tourist destination in Mexico and the seat of the municipality of Benito Juárez. The city is on the Caribbean Sea and is one of Mexico's easternmost points.

Cozumel island in Quintana Roo, Mexico

Cozumel is an island and municipality in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatán Channel. The municipality is part of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Helicopter Type of rotor craft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors

A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forward, backward, and laterally. These attributes allow helicopters to be used in congested or isolated areas where fixed-wing aircraft and many forms of VTOL aircraft cannot perform.



On July 14, Emily hit Grenada which was still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Ivan less than a year earlier. Emily resulted in one reported fatality and significant damage in the northern part of the country, including Carriacou which had been spared the worst effects of Ivan. 16 houses were destroyed and well over 200 more were damaged, and two of the main hospitals were flooded. [5] Damages in Grenada amounted to $110.4 million. [6]

Landslides were reported in eastern Jamaica, triggered by heavy rain as the storm passed south of the island. [5] Five people were killed due to an accident caused by flash flooding. [7] Damages in Jamaica were estimated at $65 million. [6] Damage was also reported in Trinidad and Tobago, where landslides and flooding damaged several homes. [5] In Honduras, a man drowned in a river swollen by rains from Emily. [4]


Impact by country
CountryFatalitiesDamage (USD)
Grenada 1 [7] $110.4 million [8]
Jamaica 5 [4] $65 million [9] [10]
Haiti 5 [11] N/A
Honduras 1 [4] N/A
Mexico 5 [12] [13] $834.3 million [14]
United States 0 [15] $4.8 million [15] [16]
Total17$1.014 billion

Yucatán Peninsula

Striking the Yucatán Peninsula on July 18 as a Category 4 hurricane, widespread damage was expected from 135 mph (215 km/h) winds; however, these winds were confined to a small area around Emily's center. Areas in Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cozumel sustained the most severe impact. In a few instances, concrete utility poles were snapped in half by powerful wind gusts. Due to the relatively fast movement of Emily, rainfall was fairly light, peaking at 4.9 in (120 mm). Few meteorological reports exist during Emily's passage of the Yucatán, though an unofficial station recorded a storm surge of 15 ft (4.6 m) in San Miguel, Cozumel. [1] Along the mainland, surge heights were generally less than 4 ft (1 m). Additionally, waves reached 13 ft (4 m), resulting in some beach erosion and damage to dunes and coral reefs. Additionally, 0.7 mi (1.1 km) of retaining walls sustained damage, leaving areas vulnerable to flooding from future storms. [17]

The high winds produced by Emily caused considerable impact in Quintana Roo, especially in the municipality of Solidaridad, leaving nearly 200,000 residences without power. In terms of structural damage, 851 homes were impacted in varying degrees. Roughly 13,345 acres (5,400 hectares) of forests and agricultural land was affected by the storm; some swathes of trees experienced defoliation. The most substantial losses associated with the hurricane stemmed from the tourism industry, with hotels experiencing 947 million pesos ($88.7 million) worth of damage. More than 12,500 rooms, nearly one-fifth of the state's available hotel infrastructure, sustained damage. Overall, damage in the state reached 1.11 billion pesos ($104.3 million). [17]

Northeastern Mexico

Emily's second landfall as a strong Category 3 hurricane brought significant damage to the northeast coast of Mexico. In the fishing community of Laguna Madre, over 80% of the buildings were destroyed as a result of the storm surge. [1] Several communities on the remote coast of Tamaulipas were isolated after the storm, and major coastal flooding was reported along with heavy wind damage, with numerous homes destroyed. Inland flooding was also reported in Monterrey. [18]

Communication to the Riviera Maya area was difficult after the storm; not all cellular phones were receiving coverage to the area, land lines were down, and electricity was out. About 18,000 people in 20 low-lying communities in the state of Tamaulipas, just south of the U.S.-Mexican border, were evacuated. Including losses sustained by the oil industry, damage in Mexico amounted to 8.87 billion pesos ($834.3 million). [14]


Total rainfall from Emily in the United States Emily 2005 rainfall.gif
Total rainfall from Emily in the United States

In southern Texas, damage was relatively minor despite the proximity of the storm. [19] Portions of the state experienced tropical storm force winds and gusts as high as 65 mph (100 km/h), resulting in scattered roof damage. Along the coast, a storm surge of 4.26 ft (1.30 m) flooded portions of Texas State Highway 100. [1] [20] No significant structural damage was reported, although some trees were down and over 30,000 customers lost electricity. [19] Rainfall from the storm peaked at 5.2 inches in Mercedes, Texas. Additionally, eight tornadoes touched down in Texas as a result of Emily, damaging or destroying several homes. Some positive effects were noted; the remains of Emily passed farther west into Texas and delivered some badly needed rainfall, helping relieve a drought. [18] Agricultural losses in Texas amounted to $4.7 million, [16] while property losses reached $225,000. [15]

See also

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The 1909 Monterrey hurricane was one of the deadliest Atlantic tropical cyclones on record, killing an estimated 4,000 people throughout Mexico. Originating from a tropical storm east of the Leeward Islands on August 20, the storm tracked west-northwest, entering the Caribbean Sea as a minimal hurricane the next day. After striking Hispaniola on August 23, the hurricane made another landfall in eastern Cuba before reentering the Caribbean. Once back over open water, the storm intensified into a Category 3 hurricane and moved across the northern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. By August 26, the storm had emerged into the Gulf of Mexico as a weakened, but regrouping system. It attained its peak winds of 120 mph (185 km/h) that evening. Maintaining this intensity, the system made landfall in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas late on August 27 and rapidly dissipated the following afternoon.

1933 Trinidad hurricane Category 2 Atlantic hurricane in 1933

The 1933 Trinidad hurricane was one of three North Atlantic tropical cyclones on record to produce hurricane-force winds in Venezuela. The second tropical storm and first hurricane of the 1933 Atlantic hurricane season, the system formed on June 24 to the east of the Lesser Antilles. It moved westward and attained hurricane status before striking Trinidad on June 27. The storm caused heavy damage on the island, estimated at around $3 million. The strong winds downed trees and destroyed hundreds of houses, leaving about 1,000 people homeless. Later, the hurricane crossed the northeastern portion of Venezuela, where power outages and damaged houses were reported.

1933 Tampico hurricane Category 5 Atlantic hurricane in 1933

The 1933 Tampico hurricane was one of two storms in the 1933 Atlantic hurricane season to reach Category 5 intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It developed on September 16 near the Lesser Antilles, and slowly intensified while moving across the Caribbean Sea. Becoming a hurricane on September 19, its strengthening rate increased while passing south of Jamaica. Two days later, the hurricane reached peak winds, estimated at 160 mph (260 km/h). After weakening, it made landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula, destroying several houses. One person was killed offshore Progreso, Yucatán during the storm.


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