Hurricane Lenny evolved from a tropical depression which formed in the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Saturday November 13th. The National Hurricane Center sent out the first official advisory on Tropical Depression number 16 on Saturday evening November 13th at 5 pm AST when the maximum sustained winds reached 35 mph. At this time it was located around 15.4 north and 81.5 west, or about 185 miles south of the Cayman Islands based on data by a U.S. air force reserve unit aircraft. The initial movement of this tropical depression was to the southeast with a turn toward the east expected on Sunday. By 300 pm AST on Sunday, Tropical Depression 16 was upgraded to the eleventh Tropical Storm of the season named "Lenny". Strengthening to a hurricane was expected by Sunday night, but came abruptly within a few hours when the hurricane hunter plane found maximum sustained surface winds of 80 mph shortly before 600 pm AST on Sunday November 14th, making Lenny the 5th major hurricane of the season. At this time Hurricane Lenny was located near 16.4 north and 78.9 west, about 175 miles southwest of Kingston, Jamaica, moving toward the east at 6mph.
In less than 24 hours, Tropical Depression number 16 evolved into the eighth hurricane of the season moving eastward across the Carribean Sea. Hurricanes at this time of the year are a rare occurrence and to have a hurricane track from west to east across the Caribbean is even rarer. Hurricane Lenny was forecast to track across the Caribbean Sea and head northeast into Puerto Rico by Tuesday night into Wednesday. Hurricane Lenny strengthened quickly overnight Sunday into a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds and a central pressure of 971 mb by 500 am AST early Monday morning November 15th. At this time Hurricane Lenny had an erratic movement toward the east southeast.
Hurricane Lenny decreased in intensity through the day on Monday, but picked up quite a bit of speed. By 500 pm AST on Monday November 15th, Lenny was moving toward the east near 15 mph and the maximum sustained winds decreased to 85 mph. Hurricane Lenny was located at 15.0 north and 73.5 west, about 580 miles southwest of San Juan Puerto Rico and 630 miles southwest of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. On its projected track, Lenny was forecast to move inland over southern Puerto Rico near Ponce around noon on Wednesday and exit the island near San Juan Wednesday afternoon. Therefore a hurricane watch was issued for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands at 500 pm AST on Monday November 15th .
By 11 pm AST Monday night a hurricane warning was issued for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Lenny was located at 15.2 north and 73.0 west and was continuing its eastward movement at 14 mph. The central pressure was 982 mb and the maximum sustained winds were 80 mph. Some re-strengthening was expected during the next 12 to 24 hours and, as predicted, by Tuesday morning Hurricane Lenny was back up to a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 100 mph as it moved steadily eastward at 17 mph. At 800 am AST Tuesday morning Lenny was about 370 miles southwest of San Juan Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Lenny continued its eastward progression through the day on Tuesday and by that afternoon the first rainband was moving across Puerto Rico. By 200 pm AST Lenny was located at 15.4 north and 69.1 west, just 240 miles southwest of Ponce and the south coast of Puerto Rico. At this point, the maximum sustained winds were still 100 mph...but further strengthening was expected as it approached Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. By 500 pm AST Tuesday November 16th Lenny became a category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 115 mph and was forecast to maintain this intensity when it reached Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, Hurricane Lenny ended up taking a more eastward track than expected and never made the turn to the northeast to come directly over Puerto Rico.
By Wednesday morning, Hurricane Lenny was still over 80 miles south of Puerto Rico. The threat of Lenny moving directly over mainland Puerto Rico had diminished, but the effects of Lenny would still be substantial, particularly over the eastern half of the Island and also over the island of Vieques. Rainbands were producing periods of very heavy rain and gusty winds. The surf was rising across the southern portion of the islands and the threat of coastal flooding was increasing. The rivers across Puerto Rico were near bank full from rain that fell during the previous days and even small amounts of rain were enough to cause river flooding.
By 900 am AST Wednesday morning November 17th, Hurricane Lenny was approaching St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was located at 16.9 north and 65.4 west, only 65 miles southwest of St. Croix. Lenny had intensified into a category 4 hurricane with a central pressure of 948 mb and maximum sustained winds of 135 mph. At this time the hurricane force winds were in a radious of up to 50 miles from it center but tropical force storm winds extended outward up to 150 miles. Gusty winds of 48 mph were already being experienced in eastern Puerto Rico. Through Wednesday morning, Lenny would be at its closest point to Puerto Rico which was about 75 miles south to southeast of the southeast tip of the island near Maunabo and south of Vieques and about 115 miles southeast of San Juan.
Early Wednesday afternoon Lenny slowed to 12 mph but strengthened to 140 mph winds with a central pressure of 933 mb. Hurricane Lenny continued strengthening and by 300 pm AST Hurricane Lenny was close to a category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 150 mph and its center was only 20 miles south of St. Croix, U.S.V.I. Through the afternoon on Wednesday November 17th, between 200 and 400 pm AST, Hurricane Lenny reached its closest point to St Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, just within 20 miles south of the island. Lenny continued to progress east northeastward near 9 mph with maximum sustained winds maintaining a speed of near 150 mph. By 500 pm AST the eye was located near 17.6 north and 64.3 west, about 50 miles southeast of St. Croix. This was about 120 miles southeast of San Juan, and the hurricane warning for mainland Puerto Rico was downgraded to a tropical storm warning. Hurricane warnings remained in effect for the eastern islands of Vieques and Culebra and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Through Wednesday evening November 17th, Hurricane Lenny remained a strong Category 4 hurricane as it slowed to a near halt. By 1100 pm AST, Lenny became nearly stationary about 50 miles east of St. Croix. The winds were about 145 mph and the pressure was reported as 939 mb by a hurricane hunter aircraft. At this time, the tropical storm warning was dropped for the western half of Puerto Rico, but remained in effect for the east half of Puerto Rico. Over the next 12 hours Hurricane Lenny remained nearly stationary moving only about 15 miles. At 1100 am AST Thursday November 18th, Lenny was located at 17.8 north and 63.6 west, about 65 miles east of St. Croix with a slow east to northeast movement expected through the day. It was still a category 4 hurricane although the winds slowed a bit to near 135 mph and were concentrated close to the eyewall. At this time, the hurricane warning for the islands of Vieques and Culebra was downgraded to a tropical storm warning and the tropical storm warning for all of Puerto Rico was discontinued. A Hurricane warning remained in effect for all of the U.S. Virgin Islands until 500 pm AST on Thursday November 18th when Lenny was about 100 miles east northeast of St. Croix with the strongest winds concentrated close to the center of circulation. At this time, all wind reports reflected less than tropical storm force winds, therefore, all tropical storm warnings and hurricane warnings were discontinued for all of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Lenny was moving slowly off to the east northeast away from our local area.
Hurricane Lenny continued to meander across the northeast Carribean over the next couple of days, drifting southeast and east and then finally toward the northeast. It ended up moving over St Barthelemey and just south of St Maarten in the northern Leeward Islands. The interaction with the islands weakened Lenny considerably and by Friday evening Hurricane Lenny was downgraded to Tropical Storm Lenny with 70 mph winds and finally began to pick up speed to near 6 mph. By 5am AST on Saturday November 20th, Lenny cleared the Leeward Islands and all warnings were discontinued. Lenny was downgraded to a tropical depression by 5am AST on Sunday November 21st with satellite wind estimates of 30 to 45 mph and it finally began its leftward turn toward the northeast. Lenny continued to weaken and the last advisory for Lenny was issued by the National Hurricane Center at 500 pm AST on Sunday November 21st as the remnants of Lenny tracked off to the northeast near 13 mph.
There were not any deaths in Puerto Rico or in the U.S. Virgin Islands associated with Lenny despite its strength while crossing the area. Lenny caused considerable damage to forestry and agriculture and coastal erosion was also significant. The neighboring Leeward Islands were impacted more seriously with several deaths reported.
Not only was Lenny remarkably intense for a late-season hurricane, but the system also made a nearly unprecedented eastward track through the Caribbean Sea. Only four other hurricanes reached category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Lenny was a strong category 4 storm when it tracked past Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. During this century, only three other hurricanes moved predominantly east or northeastward through the Caribbean at any time of the year; in 1905, the October 1st hurricane, in 1939 the October 31st hurricane and in 1955 there was hurricane Katie from October 15th to the 17th. Most of the late season tropical systems that form over the Caribbean move northward.
Hurricane Lenny caught the attention of the Media, government officials and the general public both in Puerto Rico and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The National Weather Service maintained a continuous flow of information with the TPC/NHC's bulletins, hurricane local statements, short-term forecasts and appropriate watches and warnings such as coastal, flash flood/flood, tornadoes and marine. The media made exceptional use of these products and maintained a continuous broadcast and coverage of the situation out to the public. The local governments properly responded with the activation of their Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans. And, overall, the public understood the seriousness of the situation and prepared for it well ahead of time.
The following is preliminary data collected on Hurricane Lenny. It includes Meteorologiocal data, general assessment of damages and storm effects, Lenny's track and some satellite and Doppler Radar images.
For the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
A. Maximum Winds
B. Lowest Pressure
MWS Cooperative Observers
24 Hour Rainfall Ending at 8 am AST
USGS Gages In Puerto Rico...
USGS Gages in the U.S. Virgin Islands
D. Maximum Tides
NOAA NOS Tide Gages
E. Beach Erosion
Saint Croix, USVI
St Thomas St John beaches on the south side of the island suffered some erosion
H. Preliminary Storm Effects...
U.S. Virgin Islands...
No storm related deaths of injuries were reported in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Disclaimer: This is a preliminary report and is subject to change
For a complete Summary of Lenny please refer to the National Hurricane Center.
Looping Radar Image of Lenny as it passed P.R.