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Hurricane Luis was a very large, very intense and a long-lived Cape Verde-type hurricane as well as being among the most notable storms of 1995, the strongest at landfall and alongside Hurricane Felix, was the second most powerful storm during the unusually active 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. At one point during the season, the storm was one of four simultaneous Atlantic tropical systems, along with Humberto, Iris, and Karen. The tropical cyclone lasted for 16 days during late August and middle September.

Luis caused very extensive damage in the northern Lesser Antilles, especially in Antiguamarker, Barbudamarker, St. Barthelemymarker, St Martin and Anguillamarker with winds of 135 mph (215 km/h), killing 17 people, leaving more than 20,000 homeless and causing at least $2.5 billion (1995 USD) in damage through the affected areas. This hurricane was also responsible for an intense rogue wave which struck RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 on Monday, September 11, though the ship survived with hardly any damage.

Luis was one of the three storms which affected Guadeloupemarker in a short period of time; the first was Hurricane Iris a week before and the other was Hurricane Marilyn only ten days afterward.

Meteorological history

The origins of Hurricane Luis can be traced back to an area of disturbed weather associated with a tropical wave on August 26, over the eastern Atlantic Oceanmarker. A low-level circulation center formed and moved westward until developing a weak surface low on August 27; a tropical depression formed at 1200 UTC that day. The depression intensified into Tropical Storm Luis on August 29, though as a result of nearby wind shear, convective activity fluctuated for the next two days. The shear relented the next day, allowing an eye to form, and Luis to attain hurricane status. While the storm was developing, three other tropical cyclones were active within the Atlantic – Humberto, Iris, and Karen.

Hurricane Luis continued to strengthen as it tracked west-northwesward, and a reconnaissance aircraft confirmed on September 3 that the storm had reached Category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. At the time, it was located approximately to the east of the Lesser Antilles. The cyclone turned more towards the west later that day, a rectilinear slow motion, allowing the storm to grow, from the 50°W and 60°W, caused by a subtropical ridge and especially due to Karen that been absorbed by a stronger Iris.On the evening of September 4 , Luis and his very large 350 miles wide tropical storm windfield affected Antiguamarker and Guadeloupemarker before striking the Leeward Islands. It passed directly over Barbudamarker and close to Antiguamarker, St. Barthelemymarker, St. Martinmarker and Anguillamarker. Hurricane Luis caused very extensive damage to all the Leeward Islands except Dominicamarker, Guadeloupemarker, Montserratmarker, St. Eustatiusmarker and St. Kitts and Nevismarker that had moderate damages. As it did so, sustained winds within the eyewall were estimated to have reached and a 945 to 942 Millibar.

A large and powerful hurricane, Luis retained Category 4 intensity until September 7, when it was situated 150 miles to the north of Puerto Rico. The storm gradually recurved over the northern Atlantic as a Category 2 after spending 7 consecutive days as a major hurricane; the center of the storm passed to the west of Bermudamarker on September 9. The storm became an extratropical cyclone on September 11, as it moved ashore on eastern Newfoundlandmarker. During the transition, the system generated high waves of over .


Hurricane Luis became a Category 4 hurricane several days before striking the Leeward Islands, giving local officials ample time to prepare. In advance of the storm, extensive tropical cyclone watches and warnings were declared in several areas throughout the Caribbean region. Advisories were also issued on Bermuda.


Storm deaths by region
Region Direct deaths
Antigua and Barbudamarker 3
Guadeloupemarker 1
Dominicamarker 1
Saint Martinmarker 9
Puerto Rico 2
United Statesmarker 1
Newfoundlandmarker 1
Total 18

Leeward Islands

Overall, Luis caused extensive crop and property damage across the Leeward Islands from its high winds and heavy rainfall. Damage totals are unknown, due to lack of reports from every island, though it is estimated at $2.5 billion (1995 USD).

St. Martin

Hurricane Luis brought 6 inches of rain and strong winds as it passed by Saint Martinmarker. 60% of houses were damaged or destroyed, resulting in $1.8 billion in damage (1995 USD).

St. Barthelemy

The islands had very extensive damages from the 135 Mph (215 km/h) Hurricane Luis as it passed 15 miles (25 km) north of Saint Barthelemy.The main weather station recorded a 125 Mph (200 km/h) sustained wind and a 155 Mph (250 km/h) sustained gust while the minimal pressure fell to 948 mb, and it stay under 1000 mb at least for 36 hours period.

St. Kitts and Nevis

The entire infrastructure of Saint Kitts and Nevismarker were damaged, with troubles especially occurring to the water system. Luis caused moderate house and crop damage amounting to $197 million (1995 USD).


Antigua and Barbuda
As a result of a direct hit from a Category 4 hurricane, both Antiguamarker and Barbudamarker experienced extensive house damage from 135-140 mph winds and of rain. 70% of houses were damaged or destroyed on Barbuda, and nearly half of the houses on Antigua were eradicated by Hurricane Luis. Much of the islands experienced power outages and disrupted water systems. In all, 3 people were killed, with 165 injured and 1,700 people in shelter. In addition, their government estimated a damage total of $350 million (1995 USD).

International aid was sought after in the days following the storm, with building and food supplies being the most needed. Sanitation in general was lacking subsequent to the storm, contributing to an increased mosquito population. By 2 weeks after the hurricane, life was slowly returning to normalcy as money came to aid the 2 islands, including $200,000 from France to assist in their troubles.


Dominicamarker experienced between 60% to 80% damage to the banana crops. Luis claimed the life of a fisherman in the raging seas. While overall damages was fairly minor, property damage was estimated at $47 million, and contributed to the effects of Hurricane Iris only a week before.

Eastern United States, Atlantic Canada, and offshore

Hurricane Luis making landfall in Canada
Bermuda reported sustained winds of ; however, little or no damage occurred there. Offshore, the storm produced waves approaching in height. On September 11, the Queen Elizabeth 2 encountered a rogue wave triggered by Luis. Though the ship went undamaged, its arrival in New York was delayed. A Canadian buoy also recorded extremely high seas.

Rough seas from the storm affected the U.S. East Coast, resulting in some beach erosion and damage to two waterfront structures on Fire Islandmarker. On September 7, rip currents produced by Luis caused the death of one person near Corncake Inlet, North Carolina. High waves, in combination with high tide, caused significant beach erosion and coastal flooding. In Brunswick Countymarker, eight homes were washed away by the waves and of beach was lost. In Hydemarker, Carteret, and Onslowmarker Counties, waves up to washed out of the Triple S Pier in Atlantic Beach was destroyed. Total losses in North Carolina amounted to $1.9 million (1995 USD). In New York, rough seas undermined one home, destroyed it and led to the death of one person who was swimming in the high waves.

Throughout eastern Newfoundland, the system dropped of rainfall. Northwesterly winds there gusted to . One storm-related death was reported in Canada. Flooding from Luis caused an estimated $500,000 in damages.


By September 29, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs provided both Antigua and Barbuda and the Netherlands Antilles with $50,000 in emergency funds. The United Nations Development Programme provided $50,000 for both Barbados and the Netherlands Antilles. For the reconstruction of schools, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizationmarker provided $20,000 to Antigua and Barbuda, $15,000 to Dominica, and $5,000 to St. Kitts and Nevis. The United Nations Children's Fund provided a cash grant of $20,000 to all the affected islands. The European Community Humanitarian Aid Office provided relief goods, such as plastic sheeting, water containers, blankets, and basic medical supplies worth $1.2 million. The Organization of American Statesmarker provided an emergency cash grant of $250,000 for Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St. Kitts and Nevis. The Government of Australia provided Antigua and Barbuda with $37,593 in relief funds; the Government of the Bahamas provided $50,000 to the affected areas in emergency funds; the Government of Canada donated $149,253 to the Pan American Health Organization and $44,760 to the affected areas; the Government of France contributed $200,000 in emergency funds to Antigua and Barbuda; the Government of Germany provided $52,817 in emergency funds to St. Kitts and Nevis; the Government of Jamaica deployed military recovery teams to affected regions to assist with rehabilitation and cleanup efforts; the Government of Japan contributed $150,000 in emergency funds to the affected region; the Government of Norway provided $50,000 in cash assistance to Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis; the Government of the Netherlands provided $15.2 million in emergency funds and recovery funds to the Netherlands Antilles; the Government of New Zealand provided a cash assist of $32,942 to Antigua and Barbuda; the Government of Spain contributed $15,873 in emergency funds to the affected regions.


When Tropical Depression Thirteen strengthened into Tropical Storm Luis on August 29, it marked the earliest date that a seasons' twelfth named storm formed, surpassing the previous record set on August 31, 1933 when Tropical Storm Twelve formed near the Lesser Antilles. Shortly before becoming extratropical, the forward motion of Hurricane Luis reached 65 mph (105 km/h), the third highest speed an Atlantic Hurricane has ever traveled. On September 11, a wave struck an ocean liner. This wave is the largest wave ever recorded; however, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 may have produced a wave up to high off the coast of Mexico.


Due to the severe damage and loss of life caused by Luis in the Lesser Antilles, the name was retired in the spring of 1996, and will never again be used for an Atlantic hurricane. It was replaced with "Lorenzo" in the 2001 season. Luis was the first L name to be retired since 1954, and was the first Atlantic hurricane name to be retired in three years since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Luis was also one of three retired hurricane name starting with L, the others were Lenny in 1999 and Lili in 2002.

See also


  1. NHC Luis report
  2. Caribbean - Hurricane Luis Sep 1995 UN DHA Situation Reports
  3. Dominica - Hurricane Situation Report

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