This week marks the 27th anniversary of Hurricane Gilbert striking the Yucatan Peninsula, and officials are reminding residents not to lower their guard until the 2015 hurricane season concludes in November.
With another six weeks still remaining, the 2015 hurricane season has been relatively quiet; but as Gilbert proved, a powerful blow can strike at any time.
Gilbert, which slammed into Quintana Roo and Yucatan states on September 13-14, 1988, was the most powerful hurricane to ever strike Mexico.
Gilbert first made Mexican landfall on Cozumel as a Category 5 hurricane (sustained winds of at least 185 mph).
As it traveled across the peninsula, Gilbert weakened rapidly and emerged into the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 storm on September 15. Gradual intensification occurred as Gilbert tracked across the Gulf of Mexico, and the storm made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in mainland Mexico on September 16. The hurricane gradually weakened after landfall, and eventually dissipated on September 19 over the Midwestern United States.
Gilbert wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico for nearly nine days. In total, it killed 318 people and caused about $7.1 billion (1988 USD) in damages over the course of its path.
The death toll from Gilbert was 202 victims in Mexico.
Exact monetary damage figures are not available, but the total for all areas affected by Gilbert is estimated to be near $7.1 billion (1988 USD).
More than 5,000 American tourists were evacuated from Cancun, and tens of thousands of Yucatan Peninsula residents were left homeless.
Yucatan Peninsula authorities have implemented measures to avoid repeating the widespread damage and loss of life caused by Gilbert. But they advise residents to maintain alertness and have in place a plan to cope with a hurricane.
The Yucatan Times newsroom
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