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Water Resources of the Caribbean


Physical Aspects of Hurricane Hugo in Puerto Rico


Frederick N. Scatena1 and Matthew C. Larsen2

1 International Institute of Tropical Forestry, U.S.D.A, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station, Call Box 25000, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, 00928-2500, USA

2 U.S. Geological Survey, GSA Center, Suite 400-15, 651 Federal Drive, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, 00965-5703, USA


Abstract

On 18 September 1989, the western portion of Hurricane Hugo crossed eastern Puerto Rico and the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF). Storm-facing slopes on the northeastern part of the island that were within 15 km of the eye and received greater than 200 mm of rain were most affected by the storm. In the LEF and nearby area, recurrence intervals associated with Hurricane Hugo were 50 yr for wind velocity, 10 to 31 yr for stream discharge, and 5 yr for rainfall intensity. To compare the magnitudes of the six hurricanes to pass over Puerto Rico since 1899, 3 indices were developed using the standardized values of the product of: the maximum sustained wind speed at San Juan squared and storm duration; the square of the product of the maximum sustained wind velocity at San Juan and the ratio of the distance between the hurricane eye and San Juan to the distance between the eye and percentage of average annual rainfall delivered by the storm. Based on these indices, Hurricane Hugo was of moderate intensity. However, because of the path of Hurricane Hugo, only one of these six storms (the 1932 storm) caused more damage to the LEF than Hurricane Hugo. Hurricanes of Hugo's magnitude are estimated to pass over the LEF once every 50-60 years on average.


Scatena, F. N., and Larsen, M. C., 1991, Physical aspects of Hurricane Hugo in Puerto Rico: Biotropica, v. 23, no. 4A, p. 317-323.

 
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