Hurricane Barbara: The Easternmost Landfalling Pacific Hurricane on Record




Hurricane Humberto 2013

This research article focuses on Hurricane Barbara 2013, the first hurricane of the 2013 Pacific hurricane season, which made history as the easternmost landfalling Pacific hurricane on record. The storm developed from a low-pressure area southeast of Mexico on May 28, slowly moving north-northeastward and strengthening into a tropical storm. Recurving to the northeast, Barbara intensified into a Category 1 hurricane on May 29, making landfall in Chiapas at peak intensity. This article examines the impact of Hurricane Barbara on the affected areas, the resulting damage, loss of life, and the economic cost of cleaning and rebuilding. Additionally, it provides suggestions for preparedness measures if another hurricane with similar characteristics threatens landfall in the future.

Introduction: On May 28, 2013, a low-pressure area southeast of Mexico organized and developed into Tropical Storm Barbara. The storm gradually intensified as it moved north-northeastward. By May 29, Barbara reached hurricane status, becoming the first hurricane of the 2013 Pacific hurricane season. What made Barbara particularly noteworthy was its unprecedented eastward track, resulting in it becoming the easternmost landfalling Pacific hurricane on record.

Impact and Damage: As Hurricane Barbara approached land, tropical cyclone warnings and watches were issued for the affected regions in Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as in Guatemala. In anticipation of the storm’s arrival, shelters were opened, schools and ports were temporarily closed, and evacuation measures were implemented.

The effects of Barbara’s precursor were already felt in El Salvador, where light to moderate rainfall caused damage to homes, flooded roads, and resulted in several fallen trees. Tragically, one fatality was reported in the country. In Guatemala, rainfall-triggered landslides forced 30 people to flee their homes.

When Barbara made landfall in Chiapas, Mexico, on May 29, it struck with winds of 80 mph (130 km/h) and an estimated barometric pressure of 983 mbar (hPa; 29.03 inHg). The impact was severe, resulting in significant damage and loss of life. In Chiapas alone, approximately 2,000 houses were damaged, leaving around 57,000 people homeless. The storm’s torrential rains caused power outages and resulted in agricultural devastation, with an estimated 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of crops destroyed. Overall, Hurricane Barbara claimed the lives of five individuals and caused at least $358 million (2013 USD) in damage.

Preparedness Measures and Recommendations: In light of the devastating impact of Hurricane Barbara, it is essential for communities at risk of similar storms to be well-prepared to mitigate potential damage and ensure the safety of their residents. The following recommendations can help in safeguarding against the impacts of hurricanes:

  1. Stay informed: Keep track of weather updates through reliable sources such as local meteorological agencies or national weather services.
  2. Develop an emergency plan: Create a family emergency plan that includes evacuation routes, communication methods, and designated meeting points. Ensure that all family members are familiar with the plan.
  3. Stock emergency supplies: Maintain a well-stocked emergency kit containing essential items such as non-perishable food, water, medications, flashlights, batteries, and a battery-powered radio.
  4. Secure your property: Take measures to reinforce your home against strong winds, such as installing storm shutters, reinforcing doors and windows, and securing loose outdoor items.
  5. Evacuation readiness: Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes and heed official evacuation orders promptly. Prepare a “go bag” with important documents, identification, medications, and other essentials.

Interesting Fact: As a direct result of Hurricane Barbara, meteorologists and disaster management agencies increased their emphasis on monitoring and forecasting systems for the eastern Pacific basin. The storm’s unprecedented eastward track highlighted the need for improved understanding and preparedness for potential landfalling hurricanes originating from this region. This event prompted further research and contributed to advancements in hurricane forecasting techniques, ultimately enhancing the ability to protect vulnerable coastal communities from future storms.

Conclusion: Hurricane Barbara’s landfall in 2013 as the easternmost Pacific hurricane on record left a lasting impact on the affected regions. The storm caused significant damage, loss of life, and economic hardship. By analyzing the consequences of this event, valuable lessons have been learned, emphasizing the importance of preparedness and prompt response to future hurricanes. The scientific advancements driven by this event have further improved our ability to forecast and prepare for landfalling hurricanes, ultimately contributing to the safety and resilience of coastal communities.

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