February 13th, 2009

2008 Northeast Pacific Tropical Cyclone Review

Posted at 12:55 AM ET

Dr. Rebecca Cheetham, European Model Development Team, Instrat®

The Northeast Pacific tropical cyclone season runs from May 15 to November 30. In 2008, 16 tropical cyclones developed, seven of which became hurricanes. Two became major hurricanes (Category 3 and above on the Saffir Simpson scale), though only one, Hurricane Norbert, made landfall in Mexico.

Significant Tropical Cyclones Developing in Northeast Pacific During 2008

Hurricane Norbert (October 4 - 12, 208)

Hurricane Norbert originated from a large area of low pressure that developed south of the Gulf of Tehuantepee on September 28, 2008. The system became a tropical depression on October 4, 2008, while centered south-southeast of Acapulco in Mexico.

While moving slowly westward, the depression became a tropical storm on October 5, 2008 and continued slow intensification to become a hurricane two days later, while located south-southwest of Manzanillo in Mexico. Norbert then began a period of rapid strengthening while moving west-northwest and became a Category 4 hurricane on October 8, 2008, while centered around 449 miles (722 km) south of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.

By the next day, Norbert had weakened significantly to a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of around 81 mph (130 kmph). On October 10, 2008, Norbert turned northward and then north-northeastward as wind speeds strengthened to around 115 mph (185 kmph), before making landfall near Puerto Chale, just southeast of Bahia Magdelena, on the Mexican peninsula of Baja California on October 11, 2008. Norbert came ashore as a Category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of around 104 mph (167 kmph), making it the strongest hurricane on record to strike the western Baja California coast.1

Norbert made its first landfall along a sparsely populated stretch of coastline about 145 miles (235 km) northwest of the resort of Cabo San Lucas. According to officials in the fishing town of Puerto San Carlos, around 40 miles (65 km) from the landfall point, homes were flooded after heavy rainfall and a possible storm surge, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate. Tree and roof damage was reported in the landfall area, with around 40 percent of homes totally or partially damaged on the islands of Margarita and Magdalena. Thousands of homes lost power in La Paz and Ciudad Constitucion. Reports said that around 3,000 people were evacuated prior to Norbert’s landfall.

Norbert weakened to a Category 1 hurricane as it moved northeast over the Baja California Peninsula and entered the Gulf of California. Norbert made its final landfall on October 12, 2008 north-northeast of Los Mochis on mainland Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of around 86 mph (139 kmph). Some crop damage was reported around the landfall area and at least three people were killed. No major property damage was reported. Norbert subsequently weakened whilst moving northeastward and by the evening of October 12, 2008, the storm had dissipated over the mountains of northeastern Mexico.

Julian Alovisi, Assistant Vice President, Instrat


  1. National Hurricane Center: Tropical Cyclone Report, Hurricane Norbert (EP152008) 4-12 October 2008. Franklin, J.L., 2009

To receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox, register for e-mail updates.

Guy Carpenter’s Instrat® department provides CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Instrat also provides RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email RISK.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

AddThis Feed Button
Bookmark and Share

Related Posts