Preliminary Storm Report on Hurricane Lenny
November 16-19 1999

 

Hurricane Lenny evolved from a tropical depression which formed in the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Saturday November 13th. The National Hurricane Center sent out the first official advisory on Tropical Depression number 16 on Saturday evening November 13th at 5 pm AST when the maximum sustained winds reached 35 mph. At this time it was located around 15.4 north and 81.5 west, or about 185 miles south of the Cayman Islands based on data by a U.S. air force reserve unit aircraft. The initial movement of this tropical depression was to the southeast with a turn toward the east expected on Sunday. By 300 pm AST on Sunday, Tropical Depression 16 was upgraded to the eleventh Tropical Storm of the season named "Lenny". Strengthening to a hurricane was expected by Sunday night, but came abruptly within a few hours when the hurricane hunter plane found maximum sustained surface winds of 80 mph shortly before 600 pm AST on Sunday November 14th, making Lenny the 5th major hurricane of the season. At this time Hurricane Lenny was located near 16.4 north and 78.9 west, about 175 miles southwest of Kingston, Jamaica, moving toward the east at 6mph.

In less than 24 hours, Tropical Depression number 16 evolved into the eighth hurricane of the season moving eastward across the Carribean Sea. Hurricanes at this time of the year are a rare occurrence and to have a hurricane track from west to east across the Caribbean is even rarer. Hurricane Lenny was forecast to track across the Caribbean Sea and head northeast into Puerto Rico by Tuesday night into Wednesday. Hurricane Lenny strengthened quickly overnight Sunday into a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds and a central pressure of 971 mb by 500 am AST early Monday morning November 15th. At this time Hurricane Lenny had an erratic movement toward the east southeast.

Hurricane Lenny decreased in intensity through the day on Monday, but picked up quite a bit of speed. By 500 pm AST on Monday November 15th, Lenny was moving toward the east near 15 mph and the maximum sustained winds decreased to 85 mph. Hurricane Lenny was located at 15.0 north and 73.5 west, about 580 miles southwest of San Juan Puerto Rico and 630 miles southwest of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. On its projected track, Lenny was forecast to move inland over southern Puerto Rico near Ponce around noon on Wednesday and exit the island near San Juan Wednesday afternoon. Therefore a hurricane watch was issued for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands at 500 pm AST on Monday November 15th .

By 11 pm AST Monday night a hurricane warning was issued for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Lenny was located at 15.2 north and 73.0 west and was continuing its eastward movement at 14 mph. The central pressure was 982 mb and the maximum sustained winds were 80 mph. Some re-strengthening was expected during the next 12 to 24 hours and, as predicted, by Tuesday morning Hurricane Lenny was back up to a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 100 mph as it moved steadily eastward at 17 mph. At 800 am AST Tuesday morning Lenny was about 370 miles southwest of San Juan Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Lenny continued its eastward progression through the day on Tuesday and by that afternoon the first rainband was moving across Puerto Rico. By 200 pm AST Lenny was located at 15.4 north and 69.1 west, just 240 miles southwest of Ponce and the south coast of Puerto Rico. At this point, the maximum sustained winds were still 100 mph...but further strengthening was expected as it approached Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. By 500 pm AST Tuesday November 16th Lenny became a category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 mph and was forecast to maintain this intensity when it reached Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, Hurricane Lenny ended up taking a more eastward track than expected and never made the turn to the northeast to come directly over Puerto Rico.

By Wednesday morning, Hurricane Lenny was still over 80 miles south of Puerto Rico. The threat of Lenny moving directly over mainland Puerto Rico had diminished, but the effects of Lenny would still be substantial, particularly over the eastern half of the Island and also over the island of Vieques. Rainbands were producing periods of very heavy rain and gusty winds. The surf was rising across the southern portion of the islands and the threat of coastal flooding was increasing. The rivers across Puerto Rico were near bank full from rain that fell during the previous days and even small amounts of rain were enough to cause river flooding.

By 900 am AST Wednesday morning November 17th, Hurricane Lennywas approaching St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was located at 16.9 north and 65.4 west, only 65 miles southwest of St. Croix. Lenny had intensified into a category 4 hurricane with a central pressure of 948 mb and maximum sustained winds of 135 mph. At this time the hurricane force winds were in a radious of up to 50 miles from it center but tropical force storm winds extended outward up to 150 miles. Gusty winds of 48 mph were already being experienced in eastern Puerto Rico. Through Wednesday morning, Lenny would be at its closest point to Puerto Rico which was about 75 miles south to southeast of the southeast tip of the island near Maunabo and south of Vieques and about 115 miles southeast of San Juan.

Early Wednesday afternoon Lenny slowed to 12 mph but strengthened to 140 mph winds with a central pressure of 933 mb. Hurricane Lenny continued strengthening and by 300 pm AST Hurricane Lenny was close to a category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 150 mph and its center was only 20 miles south of St. Croix, U.S.V.I. Through the afternoon on Wednesday November 17th, between 200 and 400 pm AST, Hurricane Lenny reached its closest point to St Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, just within 20 miles south of the island. Lenny continued to progress east northeastward near 9 mph with maximum sustained winds maintaining a speed of near 150 mph. By 500 pm AST the eye was located near 17.6 north and 64.3 west, about 50 miles southeast of St. Croix. This was about 120 miles southeast of San Juan, and the hurricane warning for mainland Puerto Rico was downgraded to a tropical storm warning. Hurricane warnings remained in effect for the eastern islands of Vieques and Culebra and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Through Wednesday evening November 17th, Hurricane Lenny remained a strong Category 4 hurricane as it slowed to a near halt. By 1100 pm AST, Lenny became nearly stationary about 50 miles east of St. Croix. The winds were about 145 mph and the pressure was reported as 939 mb by a hurricane hunter aircraft. At this time, the tropical storm warning was dropped for the western half of Puerto Rico, but remained in effect for the east half of Puerto Rico. Over the next 12 hours Hurricane Lenny remained nearly stationary moving only about 15 miles. At 1100 am AST Thursday November 18th, Lenny was located at 17.8 north and 63.6 west, about 65 miles east of St. Croix with a slow east to northeast movement expected through the day. It was still a category 4 hurricane although the winds slowed a bit to near 135 mph and were concentrated close to the eyewall. At this time, the hurricane warning for the islands of Vieques and Culebra was downgraded to a tropical storm warning and the tropical storm warning for all of Puerto Rico was discontinued. A Hurricane warning remained in effect for all of the U.S. Virgin Islands until 500 pm AST on Thursday November 18th when Lenny was about 100 miles east northeast of St. Croix with the strongest winds concentrated close to the center of circulation. At this time, all wind reports reflected less than tropical storm force winds, therefore, all tropical storm warnings and hurricane warnings were discontinued for all of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Lenny was moving slowly off to the east northeast away from our local area.

Hurricane Lenny continued to meander across the northeast Carribean over the next couple of days, drifting southeast and east and then finally toward the northeast. It ended up moving over St Barthelemey and just south of St Maarten in the northern Leeward Islands. The interaction with the islands weakened Lenny considerably and by Friday evening Hurricane Lenny was downgraded to Tropical Storm Lenny with 70 mph winds and finally began to pick up speed to near 6 mph. By 5am AST on Saturday November 20th, Lenny cleared the Leeward Islands and all warnings were discontinued. Lenny was downgraded to a tropical depression by 5am AST on Sunday November 21st with satellite wind estimates of 30 to 45 mph and it finally began its leftward turn toward the northeast. Lenny continued to weaken and the last advisory for Lenny was issued by the National Hurricane Center at 500 pm AST on Sunday November 21st as the remnants of Lenny tracked off to the northeast near 13 mph.

There were not any deaths in Puerto Rico or in the U.S. Virgin Islands associated with Lenny despite its strength while crossing the area. Lenny caused considerable damage to forestry and agriculture and coastal erosion was also significant. The neighboring Leeward Islands were impacted more seriously with several deaths reported.

Not only was Lenny remarkably intense for a late-season hurricane, but the system also made a nearly unprecedented eastward track through the Caribbean Sea. Only four other hurricanes reached category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Lenny was a strong category 4 storm when it tracked past Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. During this century, only three other hurricanes moved predominantly east or northeastward through the Caribbean at any time of the year; in 1905, the October 1st hurricane, in 1939 the October 31st hurricane and in 1955 there was hurricane Katie from October 15th to the 17th. Most of the late season tropical systems that form over the Caribbean move northward.

 

Hurricane Lenny caught the attention of the Media, government officials and the general public both in Puerto Rico and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The National Weather Service maintained a continuous flow of information with the TPC/NHC's bulletins, hurricane local statements, short-term forecasts and appropriate watches and warnings such as coastal, flash flood/flood, tornadoes and marine. The media made exceptional use of these products and maintained a continuous broadcast and coverage of the situation out to the public. The local governments properly responded with the activation of their Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans. And, overall, the public understood the seriousness of the situation and prepared for it well ahead of time.

The following is preliminary data collected on Hurricane Lenny. It includes Meteorologiocal data, general assessment of damages and storm effects, Lenny's track and some satellite and Doppler Radar images.

For the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

A. Maximum Winds

Location Maximum Sustained (Knots) Peak Gust
Carolina (SJU) Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (ASOS) 29 knots from 360 degrees at 1424 UTC Nov 17, 1999 34 knots from 360 degrees at 1423 UTC Nov 17, 1999
Ceiba (TJNR) Naval Station Roosevelt (ASOS) 29 knots from 090 degrees 1330-1400 UTC Nov 17, 1999 42 knots from 090 degrees 1345 UTC, Nov 17, 1999
St Thomas, USVI Cyril E.King Airport (ASOS) 46 knots from 110 degrees 1703 UTC Nov 17 1999 61 knots from 060 degrees, 0417 UTC Nov 18, 1999
St Croix Airport, USVI Hamilton Airport (ASOS) 60 knots from 340 degrees 0412 UTC, Nov 18 1999 80 knots from 020 degrees 2035 UC Nov 17 1999
Health Center, St John USVI, NWS Wind Sensor F420C   80 knots Nov 17 1999

Unofficial Observers...

Location Maximum Sustained (Knots) Peak Gust
St. Croix at Maria Hill 72 knots at 1836 UTC Nov 17 1999 97 knots at 1836 UTC Nov 17 1999
    97 knots at 1836 UTC Nov 17 199
    96 knots at 1926 UTC Nov 17 1999
    96 knots at 2028 UTC Nov 17 1999
St John, USVI, Between Coral Bay and Cruz Bay   65 knots from SE 1710-1730 UTC Nov 17 1999


B. Lowest Pressure

Location
Pressure (MB)
Date
Carolina (SJU) Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (ASOS) 1000.0 0914 UTC Nov 17 1999
Ceiba (TJNR), PR ASOS 1001.0 1355 UTC Nov 17 1999
St Thomas, USVI ASOS 993.2 1654 UTC Nov 17 1999
St Croix, USVI ASOS 981.7 1933 UTC Nov 17 1999

Unofficial Observers

Location
Pressure (MB)
Date
St Croix at Maria Hill, USVI 969.9 2020 UTC Nov 17 1999
St John, USVI 986.7 1900 UTC Nov 17 1999


C. Rainfall

Location
Nov 16 (00-24)
Nov 17 (00-24) Nov 18 (00-24)
Carolina (WSFO SJU)
0.53 inches
1.71 inches
0.27 inches
St Thomas, Airport USVI
1.22 inches
2.69 inches
0.43 inches
St Croix, USVI Airport
2.01 inches
5.89 inches
0.15 inches

Ceiba (TJNR), PR 4.25 inches Nov 16 through Nov 18

MWS Cooperative Observers

24 Hour Rainfall Ending at 8 am AST

Location
Nov 16
(inches)
Nov 17
(inches)
Nov 18
(inches)
Nov19
(inches)
Dorado 3 WNW
0.31
1.16
0.49
0.19
Cntrl Aguirre S CST
0.50
3.25
0.70
0.10
Maunabo
0.30
5.22
1.52
0.41
Aibonito
0.23
3.80
4.10
1.77
Cayey 1E
0.64
3.17
1.95
0.85
Gurabo AES
0.19
1.75
4.77
0.83
Juncos 1 NNE
0.39
1.75
2.15
0.95
Pico Del Este
1.35
3.50
4.20
2.70
Rio Blanco Naguabo
0.35
4.95
0.65
1.73
Jayuya
0.63
3.13
4.19
3.46
Toro Negro Orocovis
2.69
4.80
4.00
0.90

 

USGS Gages In Puerto Rico...
24 HR Rainfall Ending at 0700 EST

Location
Nov 16
(inches)
Nov 17
(inches)
Nov 18
(inches)
Arecibo Observatory
0.30
0.90
0.30
Bairoa Arriba, Caguas
0.25
1.52
1.33
Bairoa Beatriz, Caguas
0.26
2.05
2.17
Bo. Montones Las Piedras
0.89
2.05
1.28
Bisley Stn El Yunque
0.28
3.07
0.91
Cerro La Punta, Jayuya
0.47
1.73
3.74
Gurabo AG Exp Stn
0.19
1.75
4.77
La Plaza 7S Caguas
0.25
2.93
1.97
Lago de Matrullas
0.29
2.07
4.25
Lago El Guineo
2.03
1.90
2.42
Pueblo Del Rio Gurabo
0.29
2.08
3.66
Rio Fajardo NR Fajardo
0.89
5.59
--
Rio Orocovis
0.59
2.20
4.18
Rio Cerrillos Ponce
0.31
1.81
2.99
Rio De La Plata
0.96
3.78
5.77
Rio Maunabo
0.82
2.60
1.59
Villalba 3NE
0.55
2.82
5.09

USGS Gages in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Island Location
Nov 16 (00-24)
Nov 17 (00-24) Nov 18 (00-24)
St Croix  
 
 
 
  USDA Met Stn Frederk
0.35 inches
3.35 inches
2.08 inches
St Thomas  
 
 
 
  National Park Service 0.06 inches 3.38 inches --
  Bonnie Resolution Gut 0.08 inches 1.93 inches --
St John        
  Met Stn Lind Point 0.00 inches 2.95 inches --


D. Maximum Tides

NOAA NOS Tide Gages

Location
Pressure (Meters)
Date
Lime Tree Bay, St Croixl, USVI 0.880 Nov 17 1999
Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, USVI 0.550 Nov 17 1999
San Juan, La Puntilla, Puerto Rico 0.550 Nov 18 1999
Magueyes Island, Lajas, Puerto Rico 0.350 Nov 17 1999


E. Beach Erosion

Saint Croix, USVI
The west end of St Croix southward from prosperity through Hams Bluff road to Fredericksted suffered major and extensive coastal erosion. Overwash sand piled up along route 63 southward through Fredericksted with 2 meters or higher of sand which penetrated inland in many places at least a 100 feet from shore. This was mainly north of Ann Abramson pier. Most of the sand was quickly cleared off by heavy equipment along the Hams Bluff and prosperity roads. A two-ton buoy anchor washed up on Strand Street.

Coastal flooding was a major problem and several structures were damaged by direct wave attack along the west part. Frederisckted was inundated by a 15-20 feet surge that washed into the streets of the town, washing out roads and piling sand, tree branches and other debris on Strand and Fisher streets. A home in Rainbow Beach was destroyed. The Fish Market pier was destroyed and a concrete section of the Ann Abramson pier was broken.

St Thomas St John beaches on the south side of the island suffered some erosion


F. Flooding

Saint Croix...
Widespread flooding was reported around the island especially in Williams Delight and Estate Cane Carlton. The island received from 5 to 8 inches of rainfall from Tuesday through Thursday. Many residents had to bail water out of their houses.

Puerto Rico....
The storm impact caused many roads to become impassable due to flooding. Portions of Highway 1, Roads 171 from Cayey to Cidra, Road 509 in Juana Diaz, Road 31 in Naguabo. Many towns along the east north and southeast were impacted by swollen rivers that in some areas went out of their banks flooding low lying areas and forcing communities to be evacuated, especially in Arecibo where River Rio Grande de Arecibo discharge to the Atlantic was hampered by the rough seas. Landslides, rock slides and mud slides were reported in the interior and west sections.


G. Tornadoes...N/A


H. Preliminary Storm Effects...

U.S. Virgin Islands...

St Croix...
The island in general sustained moderate damage. Several sections of St Croix suffered the major impact...especially the west...east and southeast part of the island. The west portion was impacted by the sea surge...coastal flooding and rainfall flooding. The east and south due to the hurricane force winds which damaged roofs, downed power lines and poles and heavy seas which caused coastal flooding and erosion too. Farmers described the hurricane impact as major. Crops and nurseries suffered widespread damage. Fruits and vegetables were uprooted and blown away. Carambola fruits, bananas, breadfruit, coconut, sweet peppers, cucumbers harvest, herbal seasonings and ornamental plans suffered the most damage from Lenny.

Most hotels and lodging establishments were left without structural damage. Several sustained minimal water accumulations in the lower rooms, beach erosion and blown out windows. Downed trees, palm trees that lost all the fronds. Downed power lines and poles that snapped in two were common along the southeast part of the island. A few houses with major roof damage were spotted along the south side of St Croix from Grapetree west along Route 60 to Cotton Grove. Many boats were washed ashore along the north coast of St Croix and The St Croix Yacht Club appeared to be the hardest hit. In the Christiansted harbor some boats also sunk. Debris and rubble washed onto the Christiansted boardwalk. A total of 309 people waited Lenny out in shelters on St Croix. Some schools suffered window and roof damage.

No storm related deaths of injuries were reported in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

PUERTO RICO...
The hurricane knocked down several power substations leaving 22,000 residents without power on Wednesday. A 564 foot Russian vessel ran aground on the rocks near El Morro Fortress in Old San Juan Thursday morning due to the rough seas generated by the hurricane. Around 4700 people were forced to seek shelter in 191 centers island wide and 103,000 residents were left without water. In the municipality of Ponce, 1190 residents sought shelter in 27 schools and by 2 pm Thursday all of them were back at home. In western Puerto Rico 584 people were in shelters initially.

No storm related death or injuries were reported in Puerto Rico.


Disclaimer: This is a preliminary report and is subject to change

For a complete Summary of Lenny please refer to the National Hurricane Center.

Looping Radar Image of Lenny as it passed P.R. and U.S.V.I.
Looping Visible Satellite Image of Lenny on November 17th
Looping Visible Satellite Image of Lenny on November 18th
Looping Infrared Satellite Image of Lenny as it crossed the Caribbean


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