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1959 hurricane

Posted by Bret B on October 28, 2011, 9:11 pm

This story might help put the damages from Hurricane Jova in a better perspective. I just realized that yesterday was the 52nd anniversary of the devastation of Manzanillo, Cihuatlan and other towns by the most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall on the Pacific coast of Mexico in modern times.

We are very fortunate to have the satellite-based forcasting tools that give us much more advance warning than they had back in 1959. The 1959 hurricane was running parallel to the coast like many of them do around here, but then it took a sudden right turn and slammed into Manzanillo as a Category 5 storm with winds of 155mph (250kph). The victims had virtually no warning. Nowadays, the forecasters can "see" the invisible ridges and troughs in the atmosphere that guide a hurricane's path days in advance. Hurricane Jova made landfall within 20-30 miles (my estimate) and within a few hours of the prediction they made 3 days prior:

The Wikipedia article begins "The 1959 Mexico Hurricane was a devastating tropical cyclone that was one of the worst ever Pacific hurricanes. It impacted the Pacific coast of Mexico in October 1959. It killed at least 1,000 people, and perhaps double that, a record that still stands, and caused at least 280 million dollars in damage. The system's worst impact was in the states of Colima and Jalisco due to high winds, and flooding. This hurricane was also a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale and set several records, related to both impact and meteorological statistics."

Full Wikipedia article:

A retrospective article from yesterday's Correo de Manzanillo (Spanish):
[url= Ciclón] Ciclón

(poor Google translation):

From the Manzanillo city archives (Spanish), including some old photos of the destruction:

It's pretty horrible reading about mass graves and bodies floating down the streets, in a town we visit frequently. Just make sure we keep up the weather satellite constellation, so this never happens again (or at least the victims would be much more prepared)...

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