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Hurricane Gustav

Hurricane Gustav track
Hurricane Gustav track


Hurricane Gustav was the seventh tropical cyclone, third hurricane and second major hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. It formed on the morning of August 25, 2008, about 260 miles (420 km) southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and rapidly strengthened into a tropical storm that afternoon and into a hurricane early on August 26. Later that day it regained a pronounced eye as it made landfall on Haiti, near the town of Jacmel. As the hurricane moved over Haiti's mountainous terrain its circulation was disrupted and it lost a little strength downgrading it to tropical storm. However, on the morning of  August 28 it restrenghten to hurricane status again as it started its move towards Jamaica. It hit Jamaica on August 29.

On August 29 60,000 people were evacuated from Cuba's western coasts. At 15:00 on August 30, as Gustav neared the west end of Cuba, it was upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, with sustained winds near 125 mph (195 km/h). Three hours later it reached Category 4 strength and cuban government ordered additional evacuations, particularly in the low-lying Pinar del Rio province where 190,000 people were evacuated.

On August 30 Gustav made landfall twice on Cuba: first, on Isla de la Juventud and then on the mainland near the community of Los Palacios in Pinar del Río Province. On Isla de la Juventud nearly all the island's roads were washed out and some regions heavily flooded. Isla de la Juventud is a home to 87,000 people and recorded some serious damage: 20,000 homes out of 25,000 were completely destroyed and some 60 electric towers were knocked over leaving electrical grid on the island 100% damaged. In Pinar del Rio province the damage was even more excessive: 90,000 homes were damaged, 3,306 tobacco houses destroyed with 906 tonnes of tobacco leaves left wet. More than 32,000 acres of crops were ruined. Cuban national electric company indicated that a total of 136 electric towers were toppled over.

Authorities called the storm damage the worst since 1956. The 212 mph (341 km/h) wind gusts registered in the city of Paso Real de San Diego were the highest in Cuba's history, according to the provincial newspaper, the Guerrillero. Winds were so strong that the weather station instruments broke. Despite the severity of the storm and extreme damage no fatalities were reported.

By the early hours of August 31, Gustav exited Cuba and entered the Gulf of Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph and minimum central pressure of 958 millibars. During August 31 the storm moved in a northwest direction slightly losing its strength (despite passing over a shortened Loop Current) with sustained winds at 115 mph.

Hurricane Gustav in pictures
Gustav approaching Cuba Gustav battering Malecon, Havana
Even before the hurricane hit, people had to contend with the fierce rains that marked its approach. In Havana, heavy winds and rain battered crumbling historic buildings.
Aftermath of Gustav in Los Palacios, Pinar del Rio Gustav consequences
The aftermath of Gustav in Los Palacios, Pinar del Rio province. Many people found their homes completely ruined
Damage in Los Jazmines, Pinar del Rio Damage in Los Jazmines, Pinar del Rio
Damage in Los Jazmines, Pinar del Rio Damage in Los Jazmines, Pinar del Rio
Damage in Los Jazmines, Pinar del Rio Damage in Los Jazmines, Pinar del Rio
Hurricane Gustav - Sequence of Events (Public Advisories)


Havana 31.08.2008 02.00 GMT – A powerful hurricane Gustav has slammed into western Cuba, about 100 kilometres south-west of the capital Havana. The storm knocked power out in many parts of Cubas's capital, Havana, as 150mph winds blasted rain sideways though the streets. Cuban state television announced that all buses and trains to and from Havana will be suspended until further notice. The eye of the hurricane has passed the western tip of Cuba in Pinar del Rio province battering it with torrential rain and winds of 240 km/hour. The hurricane’s winds have toppled power poles and trees, left homes underwater and washed away roads in parts of Cuba. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from low lying areas. As it leaves Cuba, forecasters predicts it will speed up even more becoming, more than likely, a dangerous category five storm.


Havana 30.08.2008 18.00 GMT – Hurricane Gustav, now a highly dangerous Category 4 storm, is bearing down on Cuba after leaving a trail of destruction across the Caribbean. The eye of the storm has hit Cuba's Isla de la Juventud and is approaching the mainland with maximum winds of nearly 230km/h (145mph), US monitors say. Extensive flooding has hit the western tobacco-growing province of Pinar del Rio and Havana province, reports say. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from Cuba's low-lying coastal regions. Earlier, Gustav swept through Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, killing more than 70 people and causing widespread damage. Its projected path also takes it over the oil-producing Gulf of Mexico, before striking the US early next week. Half a million sacks of valuable dried cigar tobacco leaves were moved into safe storage and stiff winds have begun hitting Havana. Hotels and shops have been boarding up windows as large waves lash the capital's famous seafront promenade, the Malecon. Trains to and from the capital have been suspended until further notice. Cuba boasts one of the best organised disaster-preparedness systems in the region, the BBC's Michael Voss reports. However, much of its ageing housing stock is in poor condition and this could pose additional risks if Gustav hits the capital, a crowded city of two million people. Families living in some of Havana's older, more dilapidated buildings were moved to alternative accommodation during the morning.


Havana 30.08.2008 10.00 GMT – As of 1000 GMT on Saturday, Gustav had become a "major" category three hurricane with wind speeds of up to 185km/h (115mph) as it passed about 220km (135 miles) south-east of Isla de la Juventud and about 410km (255 miles) east-south-east of the western tip of Cuba, the US National Hurricane Center said. Hurricane Gustav has strengthened into a "major" category three storm as it nears western Cuba. Cuban civil defence forces have been put on alert, and a mass evacuation is under way in low-lying coastal areas, where mudslides and floods are feared. Gustav has already struck the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, killing more than 70 people. Cuban authorities have evacuated more than 60,000 people from low-lying coastal areas in Pinar del Rio and Isla de la Juventud before Gustav hits, and have mobilised medical and emergency rescue teams to deal with the possible aftermath. All buses and trains to and from Havana have also been suspended until further notice. The BBC's Michael Voss, in Havana, says that the Caribbean island has one of the most efficient disaster preparedness and evacuation organisations in the region, but that the poor condition of housing in the capital could pose additional risks in a major storm. Gustav is the second major hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. It could become a category four storm over the weekend as it passes over warm waters and heads for the US Gulf Coast.


Havana 28.08.2008 –The Government of Cuba has replaced the hurricane warning for the province of Granma with a Tropical Storm warning due to hurricane Gustav being downgraded to tropical storm after battering Haiti and Dominican Republic where it left 22 people dead. All other hurricane watches and warnings have been discontinued for Cuba. The storm is expected to pass between Cuba and Jamaica, probably hitting the western tip of Cuba in Pinar del Rio province, before heading into the Gulf of Mexico. At 02.00 AM local time the eye of tropical storm Gustav was estimated about 165km (105 miles) south-southwest of Guantanamo and 130km (80 miles) east-northeast of Kingston, Jamaica. At 10.00 AM the storm was heading towards Jamaica, after changing tracks and moving away from Cuba to the south. At 08.00 AM Gustav was expected to be located about 80 miles east of Kingston, Jamaica, and about 170 miles south of Guantanamo, Cuba, with maximum sustained winds up to 70 miles per hour, just shy of the 74 mph required for a Category One hurricane. The government of Jamaica issued a hurricane warning.


Havana 27.08.2008 – Hurricane Gustav, which is nearing the south coast of Cuba has weakened while interacting with the terrain of Haiti, the winds have decreased to 95km/hour, which means that it has lost its status of hurricane. However, it is expected to regain hurricane strength later today or tomorrow once it clears the peninsula of Haiti. Gustav should pass between southeastern coast of Cuba and Jamaica some time today and on Thursday. At 06.00 GMT Gustav was located about 215km (135 miles) southeast of Guantanamo. Hurricane watch remains in effect for the cuban provinces of Las Tunas, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, Granma and Guantanamo. Fidel Castro issued an essay that mentioned the hurricane, saying Cuba's government "guarantees no one will be forgotten."


26.08.2007. Havana 0900 GMT - The Government of Cuba has issued a hurricane watch for the Cuban provinces of Las Tunas, Granma, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible withing the area generally within 36 hours. Interest in Central and Western Cuba as well as the Cayman Islands should closely monitor the progress of Gustav.

At 09.00 GMT the center of Hurricane Gustav was located near latitude 17.2 North, longitute 71.9 west OR 480 km southeast of Guantanamo. Gustav is moving toward the northwest near 15km/hour and this motion is expected to continue today with a turn toward the west-northwest and a decrease in forward speed. On this track Gustav should move over southwestern Haiti later today and near or just south of Cuba on Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds are 140 km/hour which means that Gustav is category one hurricane, although in can become category two later on today.


Port-au-Prince, Haiti 26th August 2008 08.00 GMT — GUSTAV BECOMES HURRICANE, THREATENS HAITI AND CUBA - Tropical Storm Gustav grew into a hurricane Tuesday after emerging in the Caribbean, threatening Haiti with powerful winds less than two weeks after the country was hit by a deadly storm. "Reports from an air force hurricane aircraft indicate that Gustav has become a hurricane with maximum winds near 80 mph (130 kilometers per hour)," the US National Hurricane Center said in a 2:20 am (0620 GMT) advisory. Earlier, the Haitian government urged its population to take precautions and appealed for international help to deal with the storm's aftermath, some 10 days after Tropical Storm Fay left about 47 people dead or missing on the island. "In the face of the danger threatening Haiti, I ask national civil protection committees and our friends in international cooperation to help the government manage the risks and disasters," Interior Minister Paul-Antoine Bien-Aime said on national television.

The neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, also issued a hurricane warning for the southwest of the country. Gustav formed over the Caribbean Sea on Monday, becoming the seventh tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm was expected to dump five to seven inches of rain over Hispaniola, with isolated maximum accumulations of up to 25 inches possible, threatening to produce flash floods and mudslides, the hurricane center said. The eye of the storm was expected to be near Haiti's coast Tuesday afternoon, it said. Gustav was about 210 kilometers (130 miles) southeast of Port-au-Prince at around 0600 GMT, the center said.

A hurricane center map forecasting the storm's trajectory showed Gustav heading toward Cuba after striking Haiti.


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