11:32 am - Monday May 28, 2012

Hurricane Gustav

Hurricane-GustavHurricane Gustav was the second most destructive hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm was the seventh tropical cyclone, third hurricane, and second major hurricane of the season. Gustav caused serious damage and casualties in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba and the United States. Gustav caused at least $6.6 billion (2008 USD) in damages. Gustav also triggered the largest evacuation in United States history with more than 3 million people fleeing the oncoming hurricane.

It formed on the morning of August 25, 2008, about 260 miles (420 km) southeast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and rapidly strengthened into a tropical storm that afternoon and into a hurricane early on August 26. Later that day it made landfall near the Haitian town of Jacmel. It inundated Jamaica and ravaged Western Cuba and then steadily moved across the Gulf of Mexico.

Once into the Gulf, Gustav gradually weakened because of increased wind shear and dry air. It weakened to a Category 2 hurricane late on August 31, and remained at that intensity until landfall on the morning of September 1 near Cocodrie, Louisiana. Weakening continued, and Gustav weakened to a tropical storm that evening and to a tropical depression the next day as it meandered around the south-central US. The weak system became extratropical on September 4 and was absorbed by another low on September 5.

In total, an estimated 153 deaths had been attributed to Gustav in the U.S. and Caribbean. Damage in the U.S. totaled to $4.3 billion (2008 USD) with additional damage of $2.1 billion in Cuba and $210 million in damage in Jamaica.

Impact of Hurricane Gustav

Operationally, Gustav went from a tropical depression to a hurricane in 14 hours, tying Hurricane Humberto’s record of 14 hours, although this may be disputed in post-season analysis.

In the aftermath, the Canadian government sent a C-17 airlifter, with a medical team, from CFB Trenton to assist in the evacuation of New Orleans. and two C-130 Hercules airlift planes from Greenwood, Nova Scotia and from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The United Kingdom sent HMS Iron Duke and RFA Wave Ruler to provide emergency assistance and assess the damage caused by Gustav. Anheuser-Busch provided canned water to affected residents. Russia announced it would send 4 cargo planes with tents, construction materials, food, and essential supplies to Cuba. Gustav killed 53 people in the United States and at the time, it was the deadliest U.S. hurricane since Hurricane Rita which caused 127 total casualties, however this would later be surpassed by Hurricane Ike later in the season.

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