The 1998 Atlantic Hurricane season devastated the Caribbean — thousands died

Randi MannDigital Reporter

On this day in weather history, Hurricane Georges made landfall over Florida.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


The 1998 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the deadliest and costliest at the time. The season included 10 hurricanes, three of which were major (Category 3 or greater). In total, more than 12,010 people died and the storms caused US$17.079 billion worth of damage.

The two most significant storms from the season were hurricanes Georges and Mitch. Georges, which was a Category 3 and 4 storm, devastated Caribbean areas including Saint Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Mitch, a Category 5 hurricane, impacted a lot of Central America and eventually made landfall in Florida.

Hurricane Georges

"Hurricane Georges near peak intensity east of the Lesser Antilles on Sept. 19." Courtesy of Wikipedia

Georges started as Tropical Depression Seven on Sept. 15. Warm sea surface temperature and upper-level outflow caused Georges to quickly strengthen into a powerful hurricane. On Sept. 21, the hurricane made landfall on Antigua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Puerto Rico with winds up to 185 km/h. The next day, Georges made landfall in the Dominican Republic with 195 km/h winds.

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On Sept. 25, Georges hit Key West with winds up to 165 km/h. After heading northwestward for three days, Georges struck Biloxi at the same intensity. The storm eventually weakened into a tropical depression on Sept. 29 and dissipated by Oct. 1.

Georges caused widespread damage across areas of the Caribbean and the United States. In total, the hurricane caused approximately 615 deaths and around US$9.37 billion.


"The VISSR instrument onboard the NOAA GOES-8 satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Mitch on Oct. 26, 1998." Courtesy of Wikipedia

Mitch was a deadlier storm. It originated on Oct. 22 as Tropical Depression Thirteen. Between Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, Mitch made landfall across areas in the Caribbean, Mexico, and the U.S.

The hurricane devastated the areas it hit, including causing at least 7,000 fatalities in Honduras. Mitch killed 3,800 people in Nicaragua and 268 in Guatemala. In total, Hurricane Mitch led to 11,374 losses of life and $6.08 billion in damages.

The World Meteorological Organization retired Georges and Mitch from Atlantic hurricane names.

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To learn more about the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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