Hurricane Pauline

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Hurricane Pauline
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Pauline 1997-10-08 1800Z.png
Hurricane Pauline at peak intensity near landfall in Mexico on October 8
FormedOctober 5, 1997
DissipatedOctober 10, 1997
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:130 mph (215 km/h)
Lowest pressure948 mbar (hPa); 27.99 inHg
Fatalities230–500 confirmed
Damage$447.8 million (1997 USD)
Areas affectedSouthwestern Guerrero, Oaxaca
Part of the 1997 Pacific hurricane season

Hurricane Pauline was one of the deadliest Pacific hurricanes to make landfall in Mexico. The sixteenth tropical storm, eighth hurricane, and seventh major hurricane of the 1997 Pacific hurricane season, Pauline developed out of a tropical wave from Africa on September 16, 1997, moving across South America and into the Pacific Ocean. On October 5, the depression intensified into a tropical storm early the next day and by October 7, Pauline had reached hurricane intensity. It initially moved eastward, then turned northwestward and quickly strengthened to reach peak winds of 135 mph (215 km/h). It paralleled the Mexican coastline a short distance offshore before weakening and making landfall near Puerto Angel, on October 9, and dissipated the next day.

Pacific hurricane mature tropical cyclone that develops within the eastern and central Pacific Ocean

A Pacific hurricane is a mature tropical cyclone that develops within the eastern and central Pacific Ocean to the east of 180°W, north of the equator. For tropical cyclone warning purposes, the northern Pacific is divided into three regions: the eastern, central, and western, while the southern Pacific is divided into 2 sections, the Australian region and the southern Pacific basin between 160°E and 120°W. Identical phenomena in the western north Pacific are called typhoons. This separation between the two basins has a practical convenience, however, as tropical cyclones rarely form in the central north Pacific due to high vertical wind shear, and few cross the dateline.

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

1997 Pacific hurricane season hurricane season in the Pacific Ocean

The 1997 Pacific hurricane season was a very active hurricane season. With hundreds of deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, this season was one of the costliest and deadliest Pacific hurricane seasons. This was due to the exceptionally strong 1997–98 El Niño event. The 1997 Pacific hurricane season officially started on May 15, 1997, in the eastern Pacific, and on June 1, 1997, in the central Pacific, and lasted until November 30, 1997. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when almost all tropical cyclones form in the northeastern Pacific Ocean.


Hurricane Pauline produced torrential rainfall along the Mexican coastline, peaking at 32.62 inches (930 mm) in Puente Jula. Intense flooding and mudslides in some of the poorest areas of Mexico killed between 230 and 500 people, making it one of the deadliest Eastern Pacific storms in recorded history. The passage of the hurricane destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of houses, leaving around 300,000 people homeless and causing $447.8 million in damage (1997  USD).

United States dollar Currency of the United States of America

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units, but is occasionally divided into 1000 mills (₥) for accounting. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Pauline 1997 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

A tropical wave exited the coast of Africa on September 16. It traversed steadily westward, with the southern portion of the wave axis moving across northern South America. On September 26 the wave entered the eastern Pacific Ocean near Panama, and slowly organized. A weak low-level trough extended from the Caribbean Sea to south of Mexico, disrupting the normal flow of westward steering currents. On October 3, the tropical wave developed a distinct area of deep convection, and began to drift eastward to the south of Mexico. Two days later a low-level circulation formed, and midday on October 5 the system developed into Tropical Depression Eighteen-E while located about 250 miles (410 km) south-southwest of Huatulco in the state of Oaxaca. [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.

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

Panama Republic in Central America

Panama, officially the Republic of Panama, is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country's 4 million people.

With an absence of vertical wind shear, the depression drifted just south of due east and steadily organized. The system developed banding features and a central dense overcast, and early on October 6 the depression intensified into a tropical storm and was named Pauline while located about 295 miles (475 km) south-southeast of Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. A strong high pressure system eroded the trough over southeastern Mexico, which turned Pauline to the northeast. An eye feature developed late on October 6, and early the next day Pauline intensified into a hurricane about 265 miles (425 km) southeast of Salina Cruz after turning to the north and northwest. [1]

Wind shear

Wind shear, sometimes referred to as wind gradient, is a difference in wind speed or direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere. Atmospheric wind shear is normally described as either vertical or horizontal wind shear. Vertical wind shear is a change in wind speed or direction with change in altitude. Horizontal wind shear is a change in wind speed with change in lateral position for a given altitude.


A rainband is a cloud and precipitation structure associated with an area of rainfall which is significantly elongated. Rainbands can be stratiform or convective, and are generated by differences in temperature. When noted on weather radar imagery, this precipitation elongation is referred to as banded structure. Rainbands within tropical cyclones are curved in orientation. Tropical cyclone rainbands contain showers and thunderstorms that, together with the eyewall and the eye, constitute a hurricane or tropical storm. The extent of rainbands around a tropical cyclone can help determine the cyclone's intensity.

Salina Cruz Municipality and town in Oaxaca, Mexico

Salina Cruz is a major seaport on the Pacific coast of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is the state's third-largest city and is the municipal seat of the municipality of the same name. It is part of the Tehuantepec District in the west of the Istmo Region. The city had a 2005 census population of 71,314, while its municipality, with an area of 113.55 km2 (43.84 sq mi) had a population of 76,219, the state's fourth-largest municipality in population.

Hurricane Pauline off the Mexican coast on October 7 Hurr-pauline-vis1.gif
Hurricane Pauline off the Mexican coast on October 7

Pauline rapidly intensified after becoming a hurricane with favorable conditions for continued development, and 18 hours after becoming a hurricane it attained a peak intensity of 135 mph (215 km/h). The winds of the hurricane weakened slightly to 115 mph (185 km/h), but on October 8 Pauline re-strengthened to reach winds of 135 mph (215 km/h) a short distance off the coast of Mexico. The hurricane turned more to the west-northwest while paralleling the southern coast of Oaxaca, and Pauline quickly weakened due to interaction with the mountainous terrain before landfall near Puerto Ángel as a 110 mph (175 km/h) hurricane early on October 9. The tropical cyclone continued to weaken as it paralleled the coast a short distance inland. On October 10, Pauline dissipated over the state of Jalisco. [1]

Puerto Ángel Town in Oaxaca, Mexico

Puerto Ángel is a small coastal town in the Mexican state of Oaxaca located in the municipality of San Pedro Pochutla. It, along with San Agustinillo and Playa Zipolite are known as the "Riviera Oaxaqueña". It is located 9 km south of city of Pochutla approximately 50 kilometers west of Huatulco and 80 kilometers east of Puerto Escondido. Despite tourism development since the 1960s, the town is still mostly a fishing village, located on a small bay surrounded by rocky hills that lead into the Sierra Madre del Sur. It was founded in the mid 19th century as a port for the region’s coffee and lumber industries but since then other means of shipping these products has replaced it.

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".

Jalisco State of Mexico

Jalisco, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Jalisco, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Western Mexico and is bordered by six states which are Nayarit, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacán and Colima. Jalisco is divided into 125 municipalities, and its capital city is Guadalajara. Jalisco is one of the most important states in Mexico because of its natural resources as well as its history. Many of the characteristic traits of Mexican culture, particularly outside Mexico City, are originally from Jalisco, such as mariachi, ranchera music, birria, tequila, jaripeo, etc., hence the state's motto: "Jalisco es México." Economically, it is ranked third in the country, with industries centered in the Guadalajara metropolitan area, the second largest metropolitan area in Mexico. The state is home to two significant indigenous populations, the Huichols and the Nahuas. There is also a significant foreign population, mostly retirees from the United States and Canada, living in the Lake Chapala and Puerto Vallarta areas.


Early forecasts underestimated the peak intensity of Pauline by 65 mph (105 km/h). On October 7, about 41 hours before landfall, the government of Mexico issued a hurricane warning from Tapachula in Chiapas to Punta Maldonado in Guerrero. Shortly after Pauline made landfall, the warning was extended northwestward to Manzanillo, Colima, and later to Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. Pauline's turn to the west-northwest near landfall was unexpected, resulting in hurricane conditions with only a few hours notice in some areas. [1]

Tropical cyclone warnings and watches are two levels of alert issued by national weather forecasting bodies to coastal areas threatened by the imminent approach of a tropical cyclone of tropical storm or hurricane intensity. They are notices to the local population and civil authorities to make appropriate preparation for the cyclone, including evacuation of vulnerable areas where necessary. It is important that interests throughout the area of an alert make preparations to protect life and property, and do not disregard it on the strength of the detailed forecast track. Tropical cyclones are not points, and forecasting their track remains an uncertain science.

Tapachula City & Municipality in Chiapas, Mexico

Tapachula de Córdova y Ordóñez, simply known as Tapachula, is a city and municipality located in the far southeast of the state of Chiapas in Mexico, near the Guatemalan border and the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the most important cities of Chiapas economically as the capital of the agriculturally rich Soconusco region as well as port for trade between Mexico and Central America. The area was originally inhabited by the Mames as a region under the control of the Mame state of Xelaju but was first established as a city by the Aztecs in the 13th century. Most of its economic importance has come since the late 19th century with the establishment of coffee plantations. This agricultural production began a history of migration into the area which continues to this day and has left the city with a significant Asian and German cultural presence as well as large Mayan and Nahua indigenous populations.

Chiapas State of Mexico

Chiapas, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Chiapas, is one of the 31 states that along with the federal district of Mexico City make up the 32 federal entities of Mexico. It is divided into 124 municipalities as of September 2017 and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Other important population centers in Chiapas include Ocosingo, Tapachula, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Comitán and Arriaga. It is the southernmost state in Mexico. It is located in Southeastern Mexico, and it borders the states of Oaxaca to the west, Veracruz to the northwest and Tabasco to the north, and by the Petén, Quiché, Huehuetenango and San Marcos departments of Guatemala to the east and southeast. Chiapas has a coastline along the Pacific Ocean to the south.

Authorities in El Salvador declared a national state of alert in response to the potential threat from the hurricane. Residents in flood-prone areas were warned of potential flash flooding. [2] As the hurricane turned sharply to the northwest, there are no reports of damage or deaths from Pauline in the country. [1] Officials in Puerto Madero closed port facilities to all ships, excluding ships in open seas seeking shelter. [2] The government ultimately closed six major ports between Acapulco and Puerto Madero. State authorities in Oaxaca opened 75 emergency shelters [3] and prepared 50 schools to house 10,000 people. [4]


Hurricane Pauline Rainfall in Mexico Pauline 1997 rainfall.gif
Hurricane Pauline Rainfall in Mexico
Known Pacific hurricanes that have killed at least 100 people
"Mexico" 1959 1,800 [5]
Paul 1982 1,696 [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]
Liza 1976 1,263 [11] [12] [13]
Tara 1961 436 [14]
Aletta 1982 308 [15] [16]
Pauline 1997 230400 [17]
Agatha 2010 190 [18] [19]
Manuel 2013 169 [20]
Tico 1983 141 [21] [22]
Ismael 1995 116 [23]
"Baja California" 1931 110 [24] [25]
"Mazatlán" 1943 100 [26]
Lidia 1981 100 [19]

Few surface observations were taken during the passage of the hurricane, though officials reported that southern Mexico experienced the brunt of the storm. Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, near where Pauline made landfall, reported a peak wind gust of 70 mph (115 km/h) several hours before the hurricane moved through the area; no reports were available after that time. An anemometer in Acapulco reported a wind gust of 59 mph (95 km/h) with sustained winds of 46 mph (75 km/h). However, officials estimate Pauline might have been a hurricane while passing through the area. [1] The hurricane produced very heavy rainfall along its path, [4] with many areas receiving more than 15 inches (381 mm). According to the Comision Nacional del Agua, precipitation was recorded at 2,132 sites. The two highest reported rainfall totals are 27.1 inches (688 mm) at San Luis Actlan, and 32.62 inches (930 mm) at Puente Jula, near Paso Overjas. [4] [27] This made Pauline the wettest tropical cyclone in the history of Guerrero. [28] In Acapulco, the hurricane dropped 16.9 in (430 mm) of rainfall in 24 hours. This broke the city precipitation record set originally in 1974; [29] the 1997 total represented about 25% of the city's annual rainfall. [30] Seas of about 30 ft (9 m) were reported along the Oaxaca coastline while the hurricane made landfall. [4]

Hurricane Pauline lightly affected the state of Chiapas, but severely affected Oaxaca and Guerrero, two of the poorest regions of Mexico. The area most impacted was the region in and around Acapulco. [31] Throughout the country, Hurricane Pauline resulted in $447.8 million in damage (1997 USD). [32] A report issued by the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs reported 137 deaths three days after Hurricane Pauline. [33] Four days after the passage of the hurricane, a Reuters news report stated there were 173 dead with about 200 missing, [34] while the government of Mexico issued a statement reporting 149 deaths. [35] Ultimately, media reports indicated a death toll of at least 230 people, and the Mexican Red Cross estimated 400 dead [1] and at least 1,900 missing. The Church World Service estimated at least 500 people were killed. [36] Relief Web suggests that 217 fatalities were reported and 600,000 people were impacted. [37] Approximately 300,000 people were left homeless due to the storm. [38]


The hurricane caused severe damage to the environment; 200 square miles (700 km²) of low-lying rainforest and pine and evergreen oak woodlands were greatly damaged in southern Mexico. [39] Strong waves produced severe beach erosion in some locations. The erosion affected two nesting cycles for the Olive Ridley turtle, [40] destroying about 40 million eggs. Nearly 806,000 nests were affected, and about 50% of these were wiped out. [41] The deadliest and most intense hurricane to hit southern Mexico since 1959, [42] the hurricane was the first documented hurricane strike on Pacific coral reefs. [43] Crop damage was extreme, and 400,000 bags of coffee were lost. In the days after the hurricane, soybean and wheat prices increased. [44] In all, Hurricane Pauline had a large effect on fauna in Southern Mexico. [29]


A state of emergency was declared for the state of Oaxaca shortly after Pauline made landfall. [45] Abundant rainfall caused the River Los Perros to overflow its capacity, flooding 50  municipalities in Oaxaca. The flooding damaged 12 bridges, [33] of which two were destroyed, [46] and cut off some areas of electricity, drinking water, and telecommunications for several days. [33] The passage of the hurricane affected thousands of houses, leaving roughly 250,000 homeless in the state. [47] At least 110 people died in the state, with hundreds of thousands of residents and 1,278 communities being affected. [36]

Strong winds from the hurricane downed trees and power lines throughout southern Oaxaca. The storm temporarily isolated Puerto Ángel, Oaxaca and a navy base thereby cutting off communications from the rest of Mexico. In Huatulco, the winds blew down antennas at the local television station and destroyed at least 30 cardboard houses. [4] A community near the airport of the city was hit hard, with several people left homeless. Heavy rainfall from the storm caused severe flooding in portions of Oaxaca and neighboring Chiapas. [45] A total of about 500 entire communities were destroyed in Oaxaca; the areas worst affected were Zapotecos, Chatino, and Mixtecos. [36]


Heavy rainfall led to severe mudslides and flooding throughout southern Guerrero. Entire communities were nearly destroyed, with some remaining flooded for a week after the hurricane. The flooding washed out or destroyed thousands of acres of crops, and killed thousands of cattle. The flooding and mudslides isolated more than 45,000 people from the outside world. [36] The passage of the hurricane resulted in damage to houses, bridges, and electrical and water supply. [47] About fell in the city in a three-hour span, resulting in rivers overflowing its banks. About 1,100 vessels were stranded at port, and 35 ships sunk. Damage to the coffee industry was $80 million (1997 USD). [48] One environmental agency remarked that it will take 15 years for coffee crops to recover. According to one preliminary estimate, 123 people died in Guerrero, [33] primarily in Acapulco. Over 200 were missing by four days after the hurricane due to being washed out to sea or buried in mudslides. [35] A total of 50,000 people were left homeless across the state. [47] Striking the week after Tropical Storm Olaf, previously wet grounds combined with heavy rainfall from Pauline resulted in severe mudslides and flash flooding in shanty towns around Acapulco Bay. [49] There, around 5,000 homes were destroyed with another 25,000 damaged, [36] with 10,000 people left homeless in and around the city. [31] The luxury resort hotels near the beach were largely unaffected by the hurricane, though residents in the shanty towns lost what little they had. Much of the city was covered in mud, and 70 percent of Acapulco was without water as a result of the hurricane. [34] Most of the city's one million residents were left without power or telephone service. [31] Overall, total damage was nearly $300 million pesos. [48]


Memorial in Acapulco to honor the victims from Pauline Acapulco - PlacaPaulina2.JPG
Memorial in Acapulco to honor the victims from Pauline

Volunteers from the Mexican Red Cross quickly went to disaster areas with search and rescue teams, [49] including using specially trained dogs to search for hurricane victims trapped under muddy areas of Acapulco. By four days after the storm each team was finding one or two corpses per day, with officials stating the search could take weeks. [34] In Guerrero, the teams rescued a total of 35 people from hazard. [33] Hours after the hurricane passed through the area, relief works traveled by boat through flooded areas to assist the worst-hit areas. The Red Cross provided food, water, clothing, blankets, water purification supplies, milk powder and other non-perishable foods, and medical supplies to those staying in government shelters in Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Chiapas. The Mexican Red Cross also set up shelters to house and feed hundreds of displaced people, and by four days after the storm, the Red Cross distributed 100 tonnes of relief supplies to hurricane victims. Medical workers were also deployed to the area to aid the injured. [49]

Officials set up emergency water purification plants in Acapulco, though water remained largely unavailable. Water trucks were sent to the city, with thousands standing in line for fresh water. Tourists in luxury hotels of Acapulco, for the most part generally unaffected by the hurricane, [34] and rapidly recovered while other parts of the city remained devastated. [50] Hotels were forced to use bottled water and ration their available water to as little as possible to provide water for the rest of the city. [51] Extreme price gouging occurred in the city following the hurricane, with one consumer protection official reporting shopkeepers charging 200 percent more for milk, 500 percent more for tortillas, and 1000 percent more than usual for water. [35] Even though the government was blamed for lack of warnings and water shortages, Ernesto Zedillo, the president of Mexico at that time, cut his vacation in Europe short to respond to the catastrophe. [52] Government officials set up 39 aid centers for Acapulco citizens, though some residents were unable to get food and water. Some residents suspected than the President and his Institutional Revolutionary Party of taking aid supplies for their own purposes. The president promised to seek charges and decided to close aid centers in favor of opening soup kitchens. Despite having the food, the Mexican army did not set up the kitchens, nor was aid distributed at the aid centers. [51]

Most of Acapulco remained closed for at least a week after the hurricane. [51] Initially, authorities around Acapulco gave preference to clean up tourist areas, which resulted in the scenic highway from the hotels to the airport being quickly fixed. Tourism greatly decreased following the hurricane, causing some hotels to charge 40 percent less than normal in an attempt to bring people back. One airline offered two plane tickets for the price of one from Mexico City to Acapulco. Most hotels were almost completely back to normal around a month after the hurricane. [53]


The governments of Oaxaca and Guerrero asked UNICEF for assistance, specifically water tanks, water pumps, and construction material. [33] International aid initially focused almost solely on the damage in Acapulco. By a week after the hurricane, 500 communities in Oaxaca remained isolated and without assistance, with several large communities in Guerrero not receiving any material aid by a week after the hurricane. [36] The Adventist Development and Relief Agency organized about 7 tons of food and clothing, and sent a bus of 40 people to help isolated villages in southern Mexico. [54] Around ten days after the hurricane struck, 20,000 people were still isolated from emergency crews and relief works, causing the president to suspect people could begin starving to death. Helicopters were initially sent to the remote areas, though severe fog and heavy rainfall after the hurricane grounded the operations. The government worked to bring food to remote mountain communities, though officials noted the serious risk in doing so. [55]

Three days after the hurricane, the American Red Cross sent an initial donation of $25,000 (1997 USD), and also sent plastic sheets for temporary roofing and cleaning supplies such as mops, brooms, buckets, sponges, bleach, and cleaning chemicals. [49] Local chapters also offered assistance. The chapter in San Antonio, Texas sent cleaning kits, and the chapter in Los Angeles delivered 2,000 comfort kits containing hygiene supplies and crossword puzzles for children. [56] The German Red Cross also offered assistance. [49]


The floodwaters from the hurricane combined with raw sewage in many poor areas of southwestern Mexico, leading to a widespread threat for a spread of tropical diseases. As a result, government health workers opened vaccination centers in several cities along the Guerrero and Oaxaca coasts. Thousands were inoculated for typhoid fever and tetanus. Officials noted a potential threat for dengue and cholera as a result of the spoiled water. Health workers also stated mosquitos possessing malaria and dengue fever were likely to breed in large areas of leftover water. In Acapulco, about two days after the hurricane passed, the first day of sun in a week evaporated the areas of leftover water, spreading dust across the region with the deadly diseases. Residents were warned to boil their food and water for 30 minutes due to the threat for contamination by the dust. [34] At least twenty cases of cholera [53] and at least six cases of dengue fever were reported. [57] Most significantly, there were 14,630 cases of malaria in 616 villages in Oaxaca due to Pauline; this represented about 80% of the malaria cases in Mexico during 1998. [58] Army soldiers distributed chlorine tablets to disinfect water pools and wheelbarrows to remove rotting mud and sewage from their damaged homes. Two C-130 Hercules planes and twenty helicopters airlifted food and water to smaller villages south of Acapulco that were stranded for nearly a week after the hurricane. [51]


Less than a month after Pauline, Hurricane Rick struck the same general region, which brought additional rainfall and hampered relief efforts. Compared to Pauline, however, damage was minimal. [59] Because of the high death tolls and the extent of damage in Mexico, the name Pauline was retired in the spring of 1998 by the World Meteorological Organization and will never again be used for a Pacific hurricane. [60] It was replaced by Patricia in the 2003 season. [61]

See also

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Hurricane Tara was one of the deadliest Pacific hurricanes on record. The final tropical cyclone of the 1961 Pacific hurricane season, Tara formed on November 10 about 230 mi (365 km) off the coast of Mexico. It strengthened to reach maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 km/h) before making landfall in the Mexican state of Guerrero near Zihuatanejo. Hurricane Tara dissipated on November 12, bringing heavy rainfall and strong winds to locations inundated by 10 days of precipitation. Damage was light in the major port city of Acapulco, though further west along the coast, the effects of Tara were much worse. The city of Nuxco in Tecpán de Galeana municipality received the most damage and deaths from the hurricane. Throughout Mexico, at least 436 fatalities were reported, and damage exceeded $16 million.

Tropical Depression Two-E (2006) Pacific tropical depression in 2006

Tropical Depression Two-E was a short-lived tropical cyclone that brought heavy rainfall to southwestern Mexico. It was the only cyclone during the month in the eastern North Pacific Ocean, forming on June 3 from a tropical wave. The depression initially moved northeastward, threatening the Mexican states of Michoacán and Guerrero with a potential of it attaining tropical storm status. It remained a tropical depression, weakening due to land interaction and wind shear, and on June 5 it dissipated just off the coast. Rainfall from the depression peaked at 19.1 inches (486 mm) in Acapulco, which resulted in mudslides and flooding. A total of 42 houses were flooded, and 72 people were forced to leave their homes due to the storm; no deaths were reported.

Tropical Storm Carlos (2003) Pacific tropical storm in 2003

Tropical Storm Carlos was the first of five tropical cyclones to make landfall during the 2003 Pacific hurricane season. It formed on June 26 from a tropical wave to the south of Mexico. It quickly strengthened as it approached the coast, and early on June 27 Carlos moved ashore in Oaxaca with winds of 65 mph (100 km/h). The storm rapidly deteriorated to a remnant low, which persisted until dissipating on June 29. Carlos brought heavy rainfall to portions of southern Mexico, peaking at 337 mm (13.3 in) in two locations in Guerrero. Throughout its path, the storm damaged about 30,000 houses, with a monetary damage total of 86.7 million pesos. At least nine people were killed throughout the country, seven due to mudslides and two from river flooding; there was also a report of two missing fishermen.

Hurricane Roslyn (1986) Category 4 Pacific hurricane in 1986

Hurricane Roslyn was the strongest hurricane in the 1986 Pacific hurricane season. The 17th and final named storm of the season, Roslyn developed on October 15 to the south of Mexico. Its movement was initially guided by a ridge to its north, and it became a tropical storm on October 16 and a hurricane a day later. The hurricane reached peak winds of 145 mph (233 km/h) on October 19 before weakening and turning to the northeast. Roslyn ultimately moved ashore near Mazatlán, Sinaloa as a minimal hurricane, where it caused minimal damage due to the light population affected. It rapidly dissipated, although the remnants brought precipitation to Texas and other portions of the central and southern United States. There were no fatalities, and reported damage was minor.

Hurricane Madeline (1976) Category 4 Pacific hurricane in 1976

Hurricane Madeline was a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in Mexico in October 1976. Madeline formed on September 29, not far from Central America. The next day, the circulation dissipated, and as a result weakened to a remnant low. Four days later, on October 3, the low regenerated into a tropical depression. The system remained weak for three days as it drifted west-northwest. When it began to recurve towards Mexico on October 6, the cyclone rapidly intensified, eventually making landfall at peak intensity as a Category 4. Shortly after landfall, the cyclone rapidly dissipated.

Tropical Storm Olaf (1997) Pacific tropical storm in 1997

Tropical Storm Olaf was an erratic and long-lived tropical cyclone that brought heavy rainfall to regions of Mexico, which would be devastated by Hurricane Pauline a week later. The sixteenth named storm of the 1997 season, Olaf formed on September 26 off the southern coast of Mexico. It moved northward and quickly intensified, reaching peak winds of 70 mph (120 km/h) before weakening and hitting Oaxaca as a tropical depression. In Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the system brought heavy rainfall, which killed 18 people and caused flooding and damage. It was originally thought that Olaf dissipated over Mexico, although its remnants continued westward for a week. It interacted with Hurricane Pauline, which caused Olaf to turn to the southeast and later to the north to strike Mexico again, finally dissipating on October 12.

Hurricane Eugene (1987) Category 2 Pacific hurricane in 1987

Hurricane Eugene was the only tropical cyclone to make landfall in Mexico during the 1987 Pacific hurricane season. The eighth tropical cyclone, fifth named storm, and first hurricane of the season, Eugene developed on July 22 from a tropical disturbance centered well offshore of Mexico. Later that day, the system intensified into a tropical storm while moving northwestward. Eugene reached hurricane status on July 24; it briefly peaked as a Category 2 hurricane two days later. Hurricane Eugene weakened back to a Category 1 hurricane; subsequently, the hurricane made landfall near Manzanillo. Shortly after landfall, Eugene rapidly weakened inland, and was only a tropical storm when it re-emerged into open water, where it quickly dissipated. Throughout Mexico, the storm produced high winds, especially in the southwestern portion of the country. The hurricane deluged the southwest Mexican coastline, resulting in the highest rainfall totals from a tropical cyclone in five Mexican states. Over 5,000 people were left homeless, including 60 in Manzanillo. The cities airport control tower was also damaged, thus requiring closure. Elsewhere, 200 to 300 houses were destroyed in Colima. In all, Eugene injured 18 people and caused three fatalities and $142.12 million (1987 USD) in damage.

Hurricane Dolores (1974) Category 1 Pacific hurricane in 1974

Hurricane Dolores was regarded as the worst hurricane to strike Acapulco since 1938. Developing on June 13, 1974, the system rapidly organized into a tropical storm the next day off the southern coast of Mexico. Over the following day, Dolores developed an eye-like feature and attained hurricane status. With peak winds of 80 mph (130 km/h), the storm made landfall near Acapulco. Once onshore, Dolores rapidly dissipated and was last noted on June 17.

Hurricane Manuel Pacific hurricane in 2013

Hurricane Manuel was the most destructive eastern Pacific tropical cyclone on record. Manuel brought widespread flooding across much of Mexico in September 2013, along with Hurricane Ingrid, which hit the opposite side of the nation the same day as Manuel, the first such occurrence since 1958. The fifteenth named storm and seventh hurricane of the annual hurricane season, Manuel originated from a strong area of low pressure south of Acapulco on September 13. Within favorable conditions aloft, the storm intensified into a tropical storm as it tracked northward. The following day, Manuel curved westward and strengthened to a point just shy of hurricane intensity before making its first landfall at that intensity on September 15. Due to interaction with land, the tropical storm quickly weakened, and its center dissipated over western Mexico on September 16. However, the storm's remnants continued to track northwestward into the Gulf of California, where they reorganized into a tropical cyclone the next day. Manuel regained tropical storm status on September 18 as it began to curve northeastward. Shortly thereafter, Manuel attained hurricane intensity, before making its final landfall just west of Culiacán at peak intensity. Over land, Manuel quickly weakened due to interaction with Mexico's high terrain, and the storm dissipated early on September 20.

Hurricane Ingrid Atlantic hurricane in 2013

Hurricane Ingrid was one of two tropical cyclones, along with Hurricane Manuel, to strike Mexico within a 24‑hour period, the first such occurrence since 1958. Ingrid was the ninth named storm and second hurricane of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. It formed on September 12 in the Gulf of Mexico from a broad disturbance that also spawned Manuel in the eastern Pacific. After initially moving westward toward Veracruz, Ingrid turned northeastward away from the coast. Favorable conditions allowed it to attain hurricane status on September 14, and the next day Ingrid attained peak winds of 140 km/h (85 mph). Subsequently, increased wind shear weakened the convection as the storm turned more to the northwest and west. On September 16, Ingrid made landfall just south of La Pesca, Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico as a strong tropical storm, and dissipated the next day. The hurricane was also the last one to form in the Gulf of Mexico until Hurricane Hermine in 2016.

Tropical Storm Trudy (2014)

Tropical Storm Trudy was a short-lived tropical cyclone in October 2014 that caused significant flooding in southern Mexico. The storm originated from an area of low pressure associated with a monsoon trough near Central America in early October. A slow-moving system, the low eventually consolidated into a tropical depression on October 17 near the Mexican coastline. Favorable environmental conditions aided rapid development of Trudy. Within 15 hours of its designation, an eye formed over the storm's center. Trudy ultimately achieved its peak as a strong tropical storm with 65 mph (100 km/h) winds as it made landfall just southeast of Marquelia, Mexico. The region's mountainous terrain quickly weakened Trudy and the cyclone dissipated early on October 19. Though the cyclone dissipated, its remnant energy later contributed to the formation of Tropical Storm Hanna in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Max (2017)

Hurricane Max was a short-lived Category 1 hurricane that made landfall in southwestern Mexico, causing minor damage. The sixteenth tropical cyclone, thirteenth named storm, and seventh hurricane of the 2017 Pacific hurricane season, Max developed from a trough of low pressure near the southwestern coast of Mexico on September 13. The storm tracked northeastward under the influence of a mid-level ridge and rapidly strengthened as a result of warm ocean temperatures in its path. Max strengthened into a hurricane on September 14 and peaked as a high-end Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale shortly before making landfall in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Rapid weakening ensued as Max moved over the mountainous terrain of Mexico, and it weakened below hurricane strength early on September 15. At 12:00 UTC that day, Max dissipated over the mountains of southern Mexico.


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