Cape Verde Gets Hit By First Hurricane Since 1892

Written by on September 2, 2015 in Summer 2015, Tropical, United States of America with 0 Comments

Despite it’s location in the easternmost Tropical Atlantic, an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands make up Cape Verde. This region has not witnessed a hurricane landfall for some 123 years, well up until a few days ago when a potent wave almost immediately became a depression off Senegal, West Africa.

Photograph by Henryk Kotowski

Photograph by Henryk Kotowski

Satellite view of Cape Verde



Satellite view of Fred over Cape Verde


An unusual meteorological event unfolded fast as the TD got upgraded to Tropical Storm Fred then soon after, Hurricane Fred was born. This at just 21 degrees longitude and EAST of Cape Verde setting a new record for the easternmost Atlantic hurricane. Well within the tropics that is because Vince briefly became a hurricane en-route to Portugal back in 2005 and this was further east than Fred.

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Rare images




Even more incredible is that the Hurricane, a Category 1, 85 mph storm also made history with a Cape Verde landfall. The first since 1892.

Tracks of previous known storms which developed east of 30 degrees longitude. Credit: NOAA/Brian McNoldy

Tracks of previous known storms which developed east of 30 degrees longitude. Credit: NOAA/Brian McNoldy


Excerpt from Wikipedia on Fred.

Preparations and impact[edit]

Cape Verde[edit]

Hurricane Fred over Cape Verde on 31 August

A tropical storm warning was issued for the Cape Verde Islands upon the storm’s formation, as well as a hurricane watch in light of forecasts for further development.[15] When Fred showed definitive signs of strengthening, the alerts were replaced by a hurricane warning,[16] marking the first occasion of a hurricane threat in the nation’s recorded history.[17] On the morning of August 31, TACV Cabo Verde Airlines suspended its flights from the capital of Praia to Dakar;[18] all operations at the airports of Boa Vista and São Vicente were halted as squally conditions spread across the islands.[19] Officials ordered shipping interests on all islands to remain in port and to secure their vessels.[20] A national music festival was canceled in Porto Novo, located on the northernmost island of Santo Antão.[21]

Nearing eastern Cape Verde on August 31, Fred brought blustery winds to Boa Vista, uprooting trees and knocking out power to Sal Rei, home to most of the island’s population. Cellphone service from a local carrier went down due to a toppled transmission antenna. A number of houses sustained wind damage, with several roofs blown off.[22] Two inhabitants were hospitalized when a wall collapsed.[19] The hurricane flooded the road linking Rabil to nearby towns, hampering communication and mobilization efforts.[22] On the nearby island of Sal, similar effects were reported. Much of Palmeira was left without power in Fred’s wake. In Santa Maria, high winds leveled the top of a local sport center, and a potent storm surge destroyed a pier and flooded streets and beach facilities.[22]

West Africa[edit]

Swells from Fred reached stretches of West African coastline, producing high surf as far north as Senegal. Along the shores of Dakar, rough seas devastated fishing districts and harbor towns, stranding boats, and damaging roads and bridges. About 200 houses were demolished in the district of Hann, many of which experienced total wall collapse.[23] In the suburb of Rufisque, the waves overtopped dams, entered homes and cemeteries, and destroyed a mosque.[24] Outside the capital, several villages were completely isolated from their surroundings.[25] Farther south in neighboring Guinea-Bissau, a storm surge flooded roads and low-lying establishments such as offices and military barracks. Vast amounts of cropland in the Tombali Region were submerged, resulting in great losses of rice.[

Interestingly, the hurricane season has of course a secondary ‘main season’ known as the ‘Cape Verde season’ which consists of the period between August through October when waves shed off the AEJ (African Easterly Jet), first forming over the Ethiopian Highlands, then cross tropical Africa and cross out over the 80-degree waters of the open Atlantic.

Cape Verde and hurricanes go hand in hand, after all, many of the biggest hurricanes to hit Mexico and the United States first originated as a thunderstorm cluster over the equatorial rain forests of Africa and crossed near or over the Cape Verde Islands en-route to the Caribbean, however.

So why does Cape Verde not get hit by hurricanes?

Firstly the Cape Verde seasons doesn’t typically get going till mid to late season (June through November) because waters tend to be too cool through the season’s first two months of June and July but by mid August onwards, waters reach their maximum heat content and thus systems within a favourable atmospheric environment tend to form into tropical cyclones to the west of the islands.


Famous Cape Verde-type hurricanes (Wikipedia)

Annular Hurricane Isabel near peak intensity. Isabel holds the record for the highest instantaneous wind speed ever recorded in an Atlantic hurricane, 233 mph (375 km/h).[5]

Year Name Category
1899 1899 Hurricane San Ciriaco 4
1900 Galveston Hurricane of 1900 4
1926 1926 Miami Hurricane 4
1928 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane 5
1938 New England Hurricane of 1938,
or the Long Island Express
1947 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane 4
1957 Hurricane Carrie 4
1958 Hurricane Cleo 5
1960 Hurricane Donna 5
1963 Hurricane Flora 4
1964 Hurricane Cleo 4
1966 Hurricane Faith 3
1966 Hurricane Inez 4
1979 Hurricane David 5
1979 Hurricane Frederic 4
1980 Hurricane Allen 5
1980 Hurricane Frances 3
1985 Hurricane Gloria 4
1989 Hurricane Hugo 5
1992 Hurricane Andrew 5
1995 Hurricane Luis 4
1996 Hurricane Bertha 3
1996 Hurricane Fran 3
1998 Hurricane Georges 4
1999 Hurricane Floyd 4
2002 Hurricane Lili 4
2003 Hurricane Isabel 5
2004 Hurricane Frances 4
2004 Hurricane Ivan 5
2004 Hurricane Jeanne 3
2005 Hurricane Emily 5
2005 Hurricane Dennis 4
2007 Hurricane Dean 5
2008 Hurricane Ike 4

The reason why even a tropical storm hit on Cape Verde is rare never mind a hurricane is because waves typically don’t have enough time to develop between the African mainland and the island chain. Waters are warm but usually borderline as the cold Canary current can extend into the low latitudes, helping moderate water temps in the far east tropical Atlantic.

While these waters were abnormally cool at the start of the season, they’ve rapidly warmed during July and August and while Saharan dust became thinner and forced further north thanks to an increase in moisture rich waves, one particularly strong wave pushed off the Senegal coast during the past weekend and crossed out over unusually warm 88F water and rapidly developed into a depression, storm then hurricane BEFORE reaching the eastern Cape Verde. Practically unheard of.

Note the warmth between Africa and Cape Verde.

Credit: Tropical Tidbits

Credit: Tropical Tidbits

Note how much warmer it is compared to normal.

Credit: Tropical Tidbits

Credit: Tropical Tidbits


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