Hurricane Roxanne

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Hurricane Roxanne
Category 3 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Roxanne October 10 1995 1701Z.png
Hurricane Roxanne near landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula, at peak intensity, on October 10
FormedOctober 7, 1995
DissipatedOctober 21, 1995
Highest winds1-minute sustained: 115 mph (185 km/h)
Lowest pressure956 mbar (hPa); 28.23 inHg
Fatalities29 total
Damage$1.5 billion (1995 USD)
Areas affectedMexico; especially the Yucatán Peninsula
Part of the 1995 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Roxanne was a rare and erratic tropical cyclone that caused extensive flooding in Mexico, due to its unusual movement. The seventeenth storm, tenth hurricane, and the fifth and final major hurricane of the very active 1995 Atlantic hurricane season, Roxanne developed in the southwestern Caribbean Sea from an area of low pressure on October 7. The depression curved northward, causing it to avoid landfall in Central America. By October 9, the depression intensified enough to be upgraded to Tropical Storm Roxanne. On the following day, Roxanne turned west-northward, where it promptly intensified into a hurricane. As Roxanne headed generally westward, it began to rapidly deepen, and reached Category 3 intensity less than 24 hours after becoming a hurricane. Shortly thereafter, Roxanne made landfall near Cozumel, Mexico at its peak intensity, which caused severe damage.

Roxanne rapidly weakened while traversing the Yucatan Peninsula, and when it emerged into the Bay of Campeche on October 12, the storm was a Category 1 hurricane. Further weakening occurred, and Roxanne was downgraded to a tropical storm later that day. Roxanne tracked northwestward and eventually re-intensified into a hurricane on October 14. Thereafter, Roxanne began to meander erratically in the Gulf of Mexico; the storm turned abruptly southeastward, and remained nearly stationary offshore of the Yucatan Peninsula. Following day, Roxanne curved back northwestward and weakened back to a tropical storm on October 17. Roxanne completed a cyclonic loop across the Gulf of Mexico on October 18. Further weakening occurred, and Roxanne was downgraded to a tropical depression on October 19. A cold front in the Gulf of Mexico turned Roxanne abruptly southward, and the storm dissipated just offshore of Veracruz on October 21.

Roxanne was the first October hurricane that formed and reached Category 3 intensity on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (SSHS) in the western Caribbean Sea since Hurricane Hattie in October 1961.[1] Due to its slow and erratic movement, Roxanne dropped heavy rainfall in many areas of southern Mexico, and some areas reported over 25 inches (640 mm) of precipitation. Heavy rainfall, in turn, led to extensive flooding, which destroyed crop, washed out roads, and damaged at least 40,000 homes. In addition, significant coastal flooding also occurred, as storm surge for nearly a week caused water to travel inland for hundreds of yards. High winds also occurred over the Yucatan Peninsula, with one station reporting hurricane-force winds on October 11. Overall, it is estimated that Roxanne caused $1.5 billion (1995 USD) in damage, although not all damage could be distinguished from Hurricane Opal. In addition, 29 fatalities were reported.

Meteorological history[edit]

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

Roxanne formed from a tropical wave that merged with a broad low pressure area and an upper trough just off the coast of Honduras. Although its development was complex, it is rather common in the western Caribbean.[1] On October 6, data indicated that a broad low, a tropical wave, was well established near the Cayman Islands and Honduras.[1] Satellite images indicated that the system was organizing and strengthening.[1] All of these factors formed a tropical depression in the western Caribbean at 1800 UTC on October 7 near Nicaragua.[1] At 0000 UTC on October 9, the depression became Tropical Storm Roxanne.[1] Roxanne now posed a threat to the Cayman Islands and Cuba. However, the trough that was steering Roxanne to the north moved on and was replaced with a high pressure system. This system forced Roxanne west. As the storm moved towards the Yucatán, it intensified greatly.

Roxanne making landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula.

On October 10, Roxanne strengthened into a hurricane at 0600 UTC and had a well-developed eye.[1] By 1200 UTC on October 10, the storm continued to strengthen and its pressure had fallen to 972 mb. Shortly after Roxanne reached hurricane strength, it rapidly intensified to Category 3 strength; this was the first time that had happened in the western Caribbean Sea since the 1961 season when Hurricane Hattie took a very similar turn and intensification cycle.[1] Roxanne reached its peak intensity with winds at 115 mph and pressure of 956 mb.[1] Roxanne made landfall near peak intensity just north of Tulum, a small town near Cozumel, Mexico.[1] Roxanne did not drop hurricane strength over land, despite the hurricane being inland for almost a full day and a half.

Roxanne emerged over water in the Bay of Campeche as a minimal hurricane. Roxanne weakened to a tropical storm again shortly after exiting the coast, and turned northwest. As soon as the circulation was mostly over water, Roxanne became a hurricane again. Since steering currents over the southern Gulf were weak, Roxanne took an erratic and unusual path. Hurricane Roxanne trudged southeast, threatening the Yucatán again before turning northwest again. Roxanne steadily weakened, turned south, and finally dissipated near the southern end of the Bay of Campeche.[1]


Throughout Roxanne's existence, it continuously threatened land, prompting numerous watches and warnings across Mexico and nearby areas. Upon becoming a tropical storm on October 9, the government of the Cayman Islands declared a tropical storm warning for all of the islands. Several hours later, the government of Cuba issued a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning for Pinar del Río and the Isle of Youth. At the same time, the government of Mexico raised hurricane watches for coastal areas between Chetumal, Quintana Roo and Cabo Catoche. Early on October 10, a hurricane warning was declared for areas west of Cabo Catoche to Progreso, Yucatán. By the afternoon, the hurricane watch was extended past Progreso to Ciudad del Carmen. A new tropical storm warning was issued by the government of Belize that evening for areas north of Belize City; however, this warning was discontinued early on October 11 as the center of Roxanne was not expected to pass near the area.

In the Yucatán Peninsula, thousands of residents and tourists were urged to evacuate from coastal areas. In the city of Cancún, roughly 12,000 tourists and 3,900 residents relocated to safer areas; however, some refused to leave and decided to wait out the storm in hotels. On Cozumel, most hotel guests decided to ride out the storm instead of evacuate. There, most homeowners and businesses stored all lose items indoors and boarded up windows.[2] An emergency alert was issued to hundreds of fishermen off the Yucatán coastline to move to port immediately.[3] In the state of Campeche, 150 shelters were opened and able to accommodate roughly 15,000 people.[4] However, more than 20,000 people sought refuge from the storm throughout the state.[5]


Roxanne Rainfall across Mexico

Roxanne caused 346 deaths, with six of them coming from the sinking of the pipelay derrick barge DLB 269 with 245 people on board.[6] There was massive damage in Mexico across numerous Mexican states. Over forty thousand homes were damaged in the States of Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco Veracruz and Yucatán.[1] Crops were destroyed, cattle drowned, and roads were either washed out or blocked by mudslides. The road between the City of Carmen and Campeche was completely destroyed.[1] There are unconfirmed reports that many hotel lobbies in Cancun and Cozumel were damaged from pounding waves.[1] Rainfall and storm surge combined with overflowing rivers caused the worst flooding in Campeche since 1927.[1] Rainfall in some areas was over 20 inches, with the highest rainfall reported as 26.61 inches/676 mm at Silvituc/Champoton.[7] The storm surge also pounded the Mexican coastline for days and the Gulf waters surged inland hundreds of yards.

Roxanne caused the state owned Pemex to shut down 90% of its drilling in the Gulf of Mexico during its pass as well as halt all shipments from three oil terminals in the southeastern region of the gulf.[8] As a result, Mexico lost millions of dollars.[8] Oil production dropped from 2.838 million barrels a day in September to 1.976 million barrels a day in October or 30.4%.[9] (A rough guess using a price of the Maya Crude averaging about $13.77/b,[10] 30 days in September, and 862,000 barrels a day of lost output yields $356 million, which in 2011 dollars equals about $530 million.) Oil production didn't completely recover in November, so there were some additional losses, but did completely return in December.

Throughout the state of Tabasco, nearly half of the highways sustained significant damage. Governor Roberto Madrazo Pintado estimated that it would cost roughly $60 million to repair them.[11]

Roxanne struck an area that had been directly struck by Hurricane Opal just a few weeks earlier and all damage could not be sorted out from Opal and Roxanne. Combined damage was estimated in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion.[1]


Because of the major damage in Mexico, the name Roxanne was retired in the spring of 1996, and will never again be used for an Atlantic hurricane. It was replaced with Rebekah for the 2001 season.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Lixion A. Avila (1995-11-29). "Hurricane Roxanne Prelimary Report" (PDF). National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  2. ^ Associated Press (October 11, 1995). "Tourists flee coast in Roxanne's path". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 58. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
  3. ^ Staff Writer (October 10, 1995). "Hurricane Roxanne still gaining strength". Daily News. p. 4. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
  4. ^ Associated Press (October 12, 1995). "Hurricane Roxanne sweeps across Mexico". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  5. ^ Associated Press (October 13, 2005). "Relentless Roxanne 'Rain on top of rain'". Beaver Country Times. Retrieved April 28, 2010.
  6. ^ Michael Krieger (2003): All the Men in the Sea. The Untold Story of One of the Greatest Rescues in History, Simon and Schuster
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b HighBeam
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Associated Press (October 19, 1995). "Crops, cattle added to Mexico's woes from Hurricane Roxanne". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved April 28, 2010.

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