Many hurricanes have come and gone, but Hurricane
Mitch was the worst hurricane to hit Honduras
since the Great Hurricane of 1780. This hurricane
devastated not only Honduras but some parts of
Central America as well. A lot of the states on
the Gulf Coast felt the remnants of Mitch but
luckily Mitch was not the Category 5 that hit
Honduras. Mitch?s beginning didn?t seem to show
its strength and fury until it arrived in the
Caribbean. Everything began on October 8, 1998
when a little tropical wave off the coast of South
Africa began to stir up (Storms of 1998 1). This
tropical wave then arrived in the Caribbean Sea on
the 18 of October and just 3 days later, shower
and thunderstorm activity made its presence
(Storms of 1998 1).
The next day this tropical
wave evolved into Tropical Storm Mitch 45
kilometres southeast of south of San Andreas
Island (Storms of 1998 1). Then, the inevitable
occurred. Just 470 kilometres southwest of
Kingston, Jamaica, and the weak Tropical Storm
Mitch began to unleash its fury and became
Hurricane Mitch (Storms of 1998 1). The magnitude
of Mitch became known in a 24-hour period when
Mitch?s central pressure dropped an astonishing 52
millibars to 924 millibars (Storms of 1998 1). By
October 26, its central pressure was at 905
millibars (Storms of 1998 1). Mitch?s central
pressure was the 4th lowest pressure ever measured
in an Atlantic hurricane (Storms of 1998 1).
same day Mitch reached its peak with vicious winds
of 180 miles per hour (155 knots) that put it on
the Saffir-Simpson scale as a Category 5 (Storms
of 1998 1). Then, Mitch made its deadly move on
October 27. At a Category 5, Mitch hit the island
of Guanaja, Honduras (Storms of 1998 1). Mitch?s
full fury devastated the little island with its
powerful winds. After passing the island of
Guanaja, Mitch was on a course straight for
Honduras. Mitch was still a Category 5 and now it
was only 60 miles north of Trujilo, a city on the
north coast of Honduras (Graumann and et al 2).
Graumann states that according to a wave model, on
October 27 when Mitch was right off the coast of
Honduras, the waves were as high as 44 feet (2)!
With these waves coming towards Honduras, the
powerful winds, and the storm surge, Mitch would
surely hit Honduras with a force like a lawn mower
going over an anthill.
Most of the coast was swept
away with Mitch?s might. The waves knocked out
anything that got in its path, which were things
like houses, huts and buildings. Some of the most
prized buildings in Honduras were its attractions
and beautiful beaches, in which severe damage was
inflicted on the tourist resorts ( Graumann and et
al 2). After hitting the coast with full force,
Mitch made its way straight to the mountainous
interior of Honduras. Even though it began to
loose a little bit of speed due to being over
land, its power would be far from over. This lost
speed would only mean Mitch would stay over
Honduras longer and now the stage was set for a
disaster of unimaginable proportions.
Honduras is located right in the middle of 2
bodies of water, the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean
Sea, would serve as a feeder for Mitch?s rain.
Now, massive amounts of rain fell all over
Honduras, but the most in the mountainous region.
The rate t which rain fell was about 75 inches
during the whole 3-day hurricane (Graumann and et
al 2). To make this more clearly, the amount of
rain only in Honduras can be compared to that of
an 8-month period in Halifax, NS (Storms of 1998
1). The amount of rain that fell led many
disasters. All of the rain was too much for the
mountains and the soil began to give way.
Unimaginable mudslides swept villages and their
inhabitants as well. Some so bad that the villages
were buried completely under the ground. The huts
where the poor people live on the mountainsides
also went with it too.
The floods were as
devastating as the mudslides. They cleared out all
of the houses closest to the coast and then some.
The floods not only took away buildings, but a lot
of Honduras?s crops. It was said that they washed
away 50% of Honduras?s crops (Storms of 1998 1).
The entire country?s structure was brutally
damaged by Mitch. Many villages, country bridges,
and secondary roads were washed away and even
airports were under water (Graumann and et al 2).
Around 1/3 of the buildings in the capital,
Tegucigalpa, were damaged heavily. The common
commodities such as electricity, fuel, and running
water were not available in many rural areas due
to floods and mudslides (Graumann and et al 2).
Graumann stated that the President of Honduras,
Carlos Flores Facusse, said that Hurricane Mitch
destroyed 50 years of progress for Honduras (2).
It was estimated that due to all of the severe
damage, it would take about 15-20 years to rebuild
(Graumann and et al 2). One of main reasons why
Hurricane Mitch is noted as the worst hurricane is
because of the worst possible thing, the human
It is estimated that the death toll is
around 9,500 and around the same number of people
missing and about 20% of Honduras?s population
were now homeless (Storms of 1998 1). Due to all
of the bad conditions people were living in,
hunger and near starvation spread to many villages
like wild fire (Graumann and et al 2). Epidemics
such as Malaria, Dengue, and Cholera appeared in
some places while other things like fever and
respiratory problems popped up (Graumann and et al
2) When Mitch left, trying to rescue people and
supply areas blocked off by floods was difficult.
People were still clinging to rooftops in flooded
areas. Helicopters were the answer in aiding the
people, but there were only handfuls available.
While helicopters did the best they could, many
people on foot tried as well. Some places were too
difficult to reach because of mudslides. The mud
in which lay in front of the rescuers was quite
deep and thick, so they had to wait a couple of
days in order for the mud to dry to be rescued.
The rest of the world for about a week didn?t
realize what Mitch did over a 3-day period in
Gratefully, when the people all over the
world saw what state Mitch left Honduras in, they
began donating money. The United States, on
November 5, 1998, gave 70 million dollars and five
days later gave another 10 million dollars
(Graumann and et al 2). Spain would give Honduras
105 million dollars over a three-year period and
Sweden would give between 100-200 million dollars
(Graumann and et al 2)! Other European countries
and Canada also gave around 7-8 million dollars in
assistance (Graumann and et al 2). Even Mexico
aided Honduras by providing an airlift for the
much-needed supplies that the humanitarian
organizations donated. Hurricane Mitch left a 3rd
world country in ruins and set it back many years
of progress. ?Not since the Great Hurricane of
1780, which killed approximately 22,000 people in
the eastern Caribbean, was there a more deadly
hurricane?(USGS Hurricane Mitch Program 1).
wiped out the coast and cleared out the interior.
The damage was up to $5 billion dollars alone in
Honduras. Luckily, the world aided Honduras to
recover, but this vicious, three-day storm, will
never be forgotten. Works Cited Author not
available. ?Storms of 1998?. 1998. 18 March 2002
Author not available. ?USGS Hurricane Mitch
Program?. 2002. 26 March 2002
Graumann, Axel, et al. ?Mitch: The Deadliest
Atlantic Hurricane Since 1970?. 1999.
Research essay sample on Analysis Of The Weather Leading To Hurricane Mitch