Hurricane Gilbert is the second most intense hurricane ever to have been observed in the Atlantic Basin, second only behind Hurricane Wilma of the incredibly eventful 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.
Hurricane Gilbert mainly struck the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico for nearly nine full days. The duration and damages of this hurricane storm remain nearly unrivalled.
Now, to the facts on the storm. Gilbert was one of the strongest storms ever in the Atlantic Basin. It had winds and a storm track that rivaled Hurricane Allen back in 1980, and it ended up having the lowest central pressure ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin at 888 mb. It still falls short of the strongest storm ever recorded on the planet, which was Typhoon Tip in October, 1979 with 870 mb.
Gilbert moved through the Leeward Islands into the Central Caribbean, where it continued to head westward. It then had its eye cross the entire length of the island of Jamaica as a Category Four Hurricane. After that, the storm continued to get stronger. On the evening of September 14th, Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew into the storm, and found that the hurricane had become truly historic with the lowest pressure ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin. Soon afterward, Gilbert roared through the Yucatan Peninsula with winds sustained at 185 mph, and gusts at or above 200 mph.
Hurricane Gilbert has cut a 2,500-mile swath of devastation through the Caribbean and Gulf Coast since it formed a week ago, making the extent of its destruction the worst recorded for an Atlantic storm, the director of the National Hurricane Center said today. At least $10 billion in damage has already been reported in six countries.
The death toll had reached 109 before reports today that at least 120 more people were feared dead after four buses overturned in Monterrey, Mexico.
Hurricane Gilbert was an extremely powerful Cape Verde-type hurricane that formed during the 1988 Atlantic hurricane season and created widespread destruction in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. It is the second most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin behind only Hurricane Wilma of the 2005 hurricane season, which was the costliest and most active Atlantic hurricane season on record. Gilbert was also one of the largest tropical cyclones ever observed in the Atlantic basin. At one point, its tropical storm-force winds measured 500 nautical miles (930 km) in diameter. Gilbert was the eighth tropical storm and third hurricane of the 1988 Atlantic hurricane season. Gilbert wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico for nearly nine days. In total, it killed 341 people and caused about $5.5 billion (1988 USD, $9.4 billion 2006 USD) in damages over the course of its path.