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Hurricane Tico in 1983 was among the deadliest Pacific hurricanes on record. Tico was a Category 4 hurricane in early to mid-October of the 1983 Pacific hurricane season. It made landfall in western Mexicomarker, before its remnants headed northwest over the North American continent.

Tico was the most destructive and deadliest of the season. A total of 135 people were killed. The damage amounted to $66 million (1983 USD). After losing tropical characteristics, Tico's remnants moved into the United Statesmarker, where they caused heavy rains and flooding.

Meteorological history

The origins of Hurricane Tico were from a weak tropical disturbance that crossed Costa Rica into the Pacific Oceanmarker on October 7. It tracked westward through an area of progressively warmer water temperatures, and by October 11 the system was sufficiently organized to be declared Tropical Depression Twenty-One, about 575 mi (930 km) south of the Mexican port of Acapulcomarker. The depression initially maintained a west-northwest motion, although on October 12 it turned sharply northward, due to the influence of a strong trough moving eastward through Mexico. Gradually organizing, the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Tico on October 13 by the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm Tico continued to intensify as it progressed toward the southwest Mexican coastline. A Hurricane Hunters flight late on October 13 indicated the beginnings of an eyewall, 14 miles (22 kilometres) in diameter, although the eye was open and incomplete. The next day, Tico strengthened further to attain hurricane status, about 190 mi (310 km) off the Guerreromarker coast. Around that time, a building ridge to the north of Tico turned the hurricane northwestward away from land. The intensity fluctuated by about 20 mph (35 km/h) for two days, during which it curved more to the west. By October 16, its strengthening rate quickened, and Tico reached major hurricane status, or a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

After briefly weakening to Category 3 status, Tico again attained major hurricane strength. Around that time, another trough moved eastward across northwestern Mexico; as a result, the hurricane turned northwestward and began accelerating while maintaining a well-defined eye. Early on October 19, Tico reached peak winds of 135 mph (215 km/h) about 200 mi (320 km) south-southeast of the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. It weakened slightly as it approached the coast, and at about 1500 UTC on the 19th Tico made landfall very near Mazatlánmarker with winds of 125 mph (205 km/h). It rapidly weakened over land and merged with a cold front, although significant moisture from the hurricane persisted into the South Central United States. After dropping heavy rainfall in Oklahoma, the former low associated with Tico continued northeastward to near Lake Michiganmarker. Precipitation spread across the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic States as the low turned southeastward, and the remnants of Tico were last observed on October 24 over Ohio.



Hurricane Tico near Mexican landfall
Offshore Mexico, the hurricane sank nine small ships, and nine fishermen were killed. As it passed south of the Baja California Peninsula, it dropped light rainfall of around 1 inch (25 mm) in the area. Near Mazatlánmarker where it moved ashore, Tico caused severe flooding and heavy damage from strong winds. Two 328 ft (100 m) anchored ships were washed aground by strong waves and swells. Moderate rainfall was reported around the landfall location, peaking at 8.98 inches (228 mm) in Pueblo Nuevo, Durangomarker; lighter precipitation of 1–3 inches (25–75 mm) occurred further inland toward the Mexico/United States border.

Throughout the state of Sinaloamarker, the hurricane destroyed nearly 19,000 acres (77 km²) of bean and corn, although agricultural damage was primarily to the south of Mazatlán. Damage in Mexico was estimated at $66 million (1983 USD, $143 million 2009 USD). The death toll was initially uncertain; local reports from a few days after the storm indicated 105 people were missing. In 1993, a report from the United States Agency for International Development indicated that Hurricane Tico caused a total of 135 deaths in Mexico; this made Tico the sixth deadliest Pacific hurricane on record.

United States

Rainfall summary of Tico
Moisture from Tico continued into the South-Central United States and increased after merging with the cold front. Rainfall totals of 5–7 inches extended from the Texas Panhandlemarker through Missouri, and the greatest rainfall maxima was 16.95 inches (431 mm) in Chickasha, Oklahomamarker. Flooding was reported in parts of southern Kansas, Texas, and especially Oklahoma, with serious flooding reported along the lower Washita River. The most intense rainfall occurred in a small area from Rush Springsmarker to Shawnee, Oklahomamarker, and a 24-hour total of 8.95 inches (227 mm) in Oklahoma Citymarker set a new record. The rainfall caused record discharge rates along four waterways in the state. Two locations along the Red Rivermarker reported the highest levels in more than 40 years, and two stations on the East Cache Creek reached record crests. Damage in Oklahoma was estimated at $84 million (1983 USD, $182 million 2009 USD).

Precipitation from Tico continued northeastward and eastward, with rainfall totals of 3–7 inches (75–175 mm) extending across the Ohio Valley and into the Mid-Atlantic States.

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