First hurricane of the 2000 season and first hurricane to threaten PR-VI in August since Hurricane Dean in 1989

Hurricane Debby satellite image

Hurricane Debby originated out of a strong tropical wave that moved off the west coast of Africa on 16 August. During August 17th, a broad low pressure area formed but the same remained poorly organized through August 18th. The disturbance continued moving west around 15 mph and by 19 August it became better organized, and at 5 pm, the fourth tropical tropical depression of the season developed, near latitude 12.4 north and longitude 45.5 west, or about 950 miles east of the Windward Islands. Its maximum sustained winds were 35 mph with higher gusts. Favorable conditions allowed the depression to become better organized, and it became Tropical Storm Debby at 11 am August 20th, when it was centered near latitude 14.3 north and longitude 49.7 west or about 775 miles east of the Leeward Islands. Its maximum winds were estimated to be near 45 mph with higher gusts mainly to the north and east .

The storm continued to strengthen, and at 11 pm on the 20th, a hurricane watch was issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands. At this time Debby was located near latitude 15.4 north and longitude 52.9 west or about 550 miles east of the Leeward Islands. The maximum sustained winds were estimated near 50 mph with higher gusts, with some strengthening expected during the next 24 hours. At 5 am, August 21, the hurricane watch was extended to Puerto Rico. Debby moved a little faster during the morning and intensified near hurricane strength.

At 11 am, the hurricane warning was issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands when it was located near latitude 15.7 north and longitude 57.3 west, with maximum sustained winds of near 70 mph, and higher gusts mainly to the north and east of the center. At this time the official track was taking Debby across Puerto Rico, and over the Dominican Republic in 24 to 48 hours. At 5 pm, the hurricane warning was extended to Puerto Rico, Debby was just below hurricane strength. Its was located near latitude 16.3 north and longitude 59.4 west or about 165 mile east of Antigua, or about 365 miles east southeast of St. Croix, or about 460 miles southeast of San Juan. Maximum sustained winds were near 70 mph with higher gusts mainly to the north and east of the center, and moving west near 22 mph..

By 2 am August 22, Debby strengthened to a hurricane as it neared Antigua and Barbuda. Its center was located near 17.5 north and 61.7 west, or just southeast of the island of Barbuda in the Northern Leeward Islands..This was about 190 miles east southeast of St Croix, or about 280 miles east southeast of San Juan. Debby was a 75 mph hurricane when its center moved across the extreme northern Leeward Islands from 2 am to 8 am on the 22nd. Continuing west-northwest, Debby's center moved over the British Virgin Islands around 11 am on the 22nd. At this time is was located near latitude 18.5 north and longitude 64.4 west, or about 40 miles east of St. Thomas, or about 95 miles east of San Juan. Debby was moving west northwest near 22 mph, and its center was expected to cross the north coast of Puerto Rico during the afternoon and nighttime. The National Hurricane Center bulletin indicated, that due to its large size, the effects of Debby could be felt over all of Puerto Rico.

At 12 pm, the center of Debby was estimated near latitude 18.6 north and longitude 64.8 west, or about 15 miles north of St. Thomas. At 1 pm, the center of Debby was located near latitude 18.7 north and longitude 65.2 west, or about 55 miles east northeast of San Juan. At 2 pm, the enter of Debby was estimated near latitude 18.7 north and longitude 65.4 west, or about 45 miles northeast of San Juan. The eye had a diameter of 45 miles but was very ragged. At 3 pm, the center of Debby was located near latitude 18.8 north and longitude 65.6 west or about 35 miles northeast of San Juan. The eye had a diameter of 30 miles. Debby was moving west northwest near 20 mph. At 5 pm. The hurricane warning for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico ws changed to a tropical storm warning. The center of Debby was located near latitude 19.1 north and longitude 66.1 west, or about 45 miles north of San Juan. The maximum sustained winds were near 75 mph but the extension of hurricane force winds to the south was very limited. Therefore only the threat of tropical storm force winds remained with the potential for heavy rains as the tail of the hurricane approached from the southeast. Rainfall totals of 4 to 6 inches were expected, and as high as 10 inches over mountainous areas, with the potential for life threatening flash floods and mud slides. By 7 pm the center of Debby was located near latitude 19.2 north and longitude 66.5 west or about 60 miles northwest of San Juan. At 11 pm, the tropical storm warning for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico was discontinued. The center of Debby was located near latitude 19.4 north and longitude 67.5 west or about 120 miles northwest of San Juan.

Hurricane Debby's tail pelted Puerto Rico with torrential rains in many areas from Tuesday night through Wednesday morning on August 23. This was the most significant storm effect once the eye moved west northwest of Puerto Rico. Many inland and coastal municipalities were impact by flash flooding. Before the storm 232 persons moved into shelters in 11 municipalities. Before Debby, the island of Puerto Rico was suffering the effects of an incipient drought due to the lack of significant rainfall since the beginning of the year. Many sectors in Puerto Rico were abnormally dry. However, Debby's rainfall and consequent floods forced flood zone residents to seek shelter, since several rivers overflowed their banks. The rainfall caused landslides and mud slides. Various bridges collapsed and others were damaged. Both Carraizo and La Plata reservoirs opened their gates to release water. Several main rivers in Puerto Rico were reported out of their banks in various municipalities while other were reported near bankfull. Secondary rivers and small stream also overflowed their banks.

 Debbie doppler estimated rainfall

Precipitation Analysis



Preliminary damage reports indicated tha around 406 homes were affected by flood waters island wide. The municipality of Caguas was the most impacted with 237 single family dwellings reporting some degree of flood damage. Five homes suffered moderate to severe structural damage, three were wood structures and two concrete.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands three shelters were opened in St. Thomas and two on St. John.

64 persons were in shelters in St Thomas-St John, and 17 persons in St. Croix. Minor landscape damage was reported in St John. One sailboast washed onto shore at Vessup beach on St. Thomas.

Rainfall in inches for some NWS Coop Stations from 22-24 August

Cayey 1E 11.80
Toro Negro 9.29
Gurabo 7.63
San Lorenzo 7.57
Mayaguez 6.35
Trujillo Alto 5.73
Penuelas 5.87
Adjuntas 5.68

Rainfall in inches for some USGS DCP Stations from 23-24 August

Rio de la Plata at La Plata 11.86
Adjuntas Lago Garzas 10.61
Rio Grande Arecibo near Adjuntas 10.37
Caguas at Rio Cañas 10.22
Comerio Rio de La Plata 9.64
Rio Bayamon near Bayamon 9.14
Rio Grande de Loiza at Caguas 9.18
Yauco Lake Luchetti 8.53
Naguabo Quebrada Guava 8.23
Rio Piedras El Señorial 7.61
Ponce at Tibes Rio Portuguez 5.64
St Thomas Bonne Resolution Gut 1.60
St John at Lind Point 1.42
St Croix USDA 0.46


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