Hurricane Lester (1998)

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Hurricane Lester
Category 3 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hurricane Lester (1998) GOES.JPG
Hurricane Lester near its closest approach to land, about 70 miles (110 km) south of Puerto Angel, Oaxaca
Formed October 15, 1998
Dissipated October 26, 1998
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 115 mph (185 km/h)
Lowest pressure 965 mbar (hPa); 28.5 inHg
Fatalities 2
Areas affected Mexico
Part of the 1998 Pacific hurricane season

Hurricane Lester was the fifteenth tropical cyclone, twelfth named storm and eighth hurricane of the 1998 Pacific hurricane season. Lester originated from a tropical wave that emerged off the coast of Africa on September 29. Under favorable conditions, the storm was classified as a tropical depression on October 15. The depression was upgraded to a tropical storm later that day and a hurricane on October 16. After undergoing fluctuations in intensity, Lester reached peak winds of 115 mph (185 km/h), a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. After several days, it degenerated into a tropical storm on October 26, and dissipated shortly after. The hurricane made its closest approach to land on October 18, producing moderate winds and heavy rainfall. A mudslide triggered by the precipitation killed two children, although damage is unknown.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on September 29, 1998 and on October 5, an area of convection along the wave developed into Atlantic Hurricane Lisa. The wave axis continued westward, and after crossing Central America a low-level circulation developed on October 13, about 170 miles (275 km) south of the border between El Salvador and Guatemala. The system drifted northwestward, and as convection increased around the center a banding featured began to develop. At 0000 UTC on October 15, the National Hurricane Center designated it as Tropical Depression Fourteen-E.[1] The depression contained a large envelope of convective activity, and under favorable conditions including warm water, low vertical wind shear and good outflow, it gradually began to intensify.[2] Initially, the exact direction of forward movement was somewhat uncertain, although a northwestward track was predicted.[3] On the morning of October 15, visible satellite imagery suggested that the center of circulation was located northeast of the previous estimates.[4] Thunderstorm activity organized close to the center by 1400 UTC,[5] and by 1800 UTC the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Lester.[1]

Shortly thereafter, the storm took a slight jog to the west,[6] and at the same time outflow became restricted to the southwest of the circulation.[7] At 1400 UTC on October 16, data from a Reconnaissance Aircraft confirmed that the storm had attained hurricane intensity with a minimum central pressure of 992 mb.[8] The first signs of an eye began to appear embedded within a ring of deep convection by early on October 17, while moving west-northwest at about 6 mph (9.7 km/h).[9] Shortly after, the hurricane became nearly stationary due to a shortwave which passed north of the system,[1] shortly before reaching Category 2 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.[10] Early on October 18, the eye began to wobble slightly and the ring of cold cloud tops were showing signs of disorganization, slowing further intensification for several hours.[11] At 1400 UTC, Lester's winds increased to 100 mph (160 km/h) and the storm made its closest approach to land on October 18, about 70 miles (110 km) south of Puerto Angel, Oaxaca.[1] Later that day, it weakened to Category 1 status,[12] although quickly re-intensified.[13]

Vertical wind shear associated with a mid-to-upper-level low pressure system developed and began to affect the storm's circulation on October 19, thus weakening it slightly.[14] However, early on October 20 the hurricane regained organization and once again intensified.[1] Lester strengthened to reach a peak intensity of 115 mph (185 km/h) on October 22, about 355 miles (570 km) southwest of Manzanillo, Colima. Coinciding with its peak intensity, a short-wave trough caused Lester to stall before turning to the southwest and weakening.[1] At 0200 UTC on October 23 Lester rapidly lost deep convection, and weakened to Category 1 status.[1] Later that morning, the storm was downgraded to a tropical storm while tracking southwest.[15] By October 24, the low-level center of circulation became exposed from the cloud structure,[16] and at 0000 UTC on October 16, Lester had degenerated into a tropical depression, about 500 miles (805 km) southwest of the southern tip of Baja California Peninsula, shortly before dissipating.[1]

Preparations and impact[edit]

Rainfall totals provided by the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center

In anticipation of the storm, the government of Mexico issued a hurricane warning from Puerto Arista to Punta Maldonaldo and later from Salina Cruz to Acapulco. A tropical storm warning was also issued from Sipacate, Guatemala to Puerto Arista, Mexico.[1] The threat of the hurricane prompted officials to order the evacuation of 3,000 people along the southern coast of Mexico to 500 emergency shelters.[17]

The storm dropped heavy rainfall across southwestern Guatemala. Up to 9 inches (228 mm) of rainfall was reported in localized areas along the Pacific coast of the country. Moisture brought around the northeast periphery of the Sierra Madre Occidental led to a narrow band of heavy rainfall along the upslope side of the mountain range, with a local precipitation maximum exceeding 14 inches (360 mm).[18] It is reported that tropical-storm-force winds occurred along coastal areas of southern Mexico.[1] The rainfall destroyed some houses and killed numerous livestock, and triggered a mudslide which killed two children.[19][20][21] In Honduras, rainfall from the Lester destroyed a bridge which affected transportation for about 1,000 people.[22] Heavy rainfall was reported in Chiapas, causing moderate river flooding though no reported damage.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Miles Lawrence (1998). "Hurricane Lester Preliminary Report". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  2. ^ John Guiney (1998). "Tropical Depression Fourteen-E Discussion Number 1". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  3. ^ Richard Pasch (1998). "Tropical Depression Fourteen-E Discussion Number 2". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  4. ^ Edward Rappaport (1998). "Tropical Depression Fourteen-E Discussion Number 3". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  5. ^ Edward Rappaport (1998). "Tropical Depression Fourteen-E Discussion Number 4". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  6. ^ John Guiney (1998). "Tropical Storm Lester Discussion Number 5". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  7. ^ Lixion Avila (1998). "Tropical Storm Lester Discussion Number 6". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  8. ^ Edward Rappaport (1998). "Hurricane Lester Discussion Number 8". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  9. ^ Lixion Avila (1998). "Hurricane Lester Discussion Number 10". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  10. ^ Edward Rappaport (1998). "Hurricane Lester Discussion Number 11". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  11. ^ Richard Pasch (1998). "Hurricane Lester Discussion Number 14". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  12. ^ Richard Pasch (1998). "Hurricane Lester Discussion Number 18". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  13. ^ John Guiney (1998). "Hurricane Lester Discussion Number 19". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  14. ^ John Guiney (1998). "Hurricane Lester Discussion Number 20". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  15. ^ Lixion Avila (1998). "Tropical Storm Lester Discussion Number 35". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  16. ^ Brian Jarvinen (1998). "Tropical Storm Lester Discussion Number 41". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  17. ^ a b Associated Press (1998-10-18). "Thousands flee Mexico coast as Hurricane Lester nears". 
  18. ^ Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (2007). Hurricane Lester. Retrieved on 2007-02-12.
  19. ^ Calgary Herald (1998-10-17). "Weather Kills Two in Guatemala". 
  20. ^ Associated Press (1998). "Hurricane kills two, heads for Mexican coast leaves flooding in Guatemala". San Jose Mercury News. 
  21. ^ Accosiated Press (1998). "Storm kills two in Guatemala, roars toward southern Mexico". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 
  22. ^ Xinhua News Agency (1998-10-17). "Heavy Rains Bring Bridge Down in Honduras". 

External links[edit]