Hurricane Mitch was the most powerful hurricane and the most destructive of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, with maximum sustained winds of 180 mph (285 km/h). The storm was the thirteenth tropical storm, ninth hurricane, and third major hurricane of the season. Along with Hurricane Georges, Mitch was the most notable hurricane in the season. At the time, Hurricane Mitch was the strongest Atlantic hurricane observed in the month of October, though it has since been surpassed by Hurricane Wilma of the 2005 season. The hurricane matched the fourth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record (it has since dropped to seventh).
Mitch formed in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22, and after drifting through extremely favorable conditions, it rapidly strengthened to peak at Category 5 status, the highest possible rating on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. After drifting southwestward and weakening, the hurricane hit Honduras as a minimal hurricane. It drifted through Central America, reformed in the Bay of Campeche, and ultimately struck Florida as a strong tropical storm.
Due to its slow motion from October 29 to November 3, Hurricane Mitch dropped historic amounts of rainfall in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, with unofficial reports of up to 75 inches (1,900 mm). Deaths due to catastrophic flooding made it the second deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history; nearly 11,000 people were killed with over 11,000 left missing by the end of 1998. Additionally, roughly 2.7 million were left homeless as a result of the hurricane. The flooding caused extreme damage, estimated at over $6 billion (1998 USD, $8.56 billion 2012 USD).
Famous quotes containing the word hurricane:
“Thought and beauty, like a hurricane or waves, should not know conventional, delimited forms.”
—Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (18601904)