Hurricane Adrianlashes Central America

Hurricane Adrian lashed El Salvador Thursday night, becoming the first recorded Pacific hurricane ever to strike the country.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | May 20, 2005


Hurricane Adrian lashed El Salvador Thursday night, becoming the first recorded Pacific hurricane ever to strike the country.

Some 14,000 people were evacuated from flood-prone areas in El Salvador, where the hurricane hit near the port of Acajutla, about 35 miles west of the capital, San Salvador. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph as it made landfall, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Schools were closed and fishing activities were banned, according to reports from Action by Churches Together (ACT), a global alliance of churches and related agencies that responds to emergencies worldwide.

Forecasters warned Adrian could spawn flooding and mudslides in the extremely flood-prone countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The region was told to expect about 10 inches of rain, with as much as 20 inches in mountain areas.

Adrian was a Category 1 hurricane Thursday night, and was expected to pick up speed before hitting El Salvador's coast.

Faith-based groups were working closely with government officials in the region to prepare for the storm and to deploy an immediate response.

The ACT National Forum in El Salvador was activated to coordinate disaster preparedness activities with local community networks in Cara Sucia on the southwest coast.

In Guatemala and Honduras, government officials were setting up temporary shelters, and making transportation available for evacuation activities. ACT Forums in both countries were activated to follow the situation.

In Nicaragua, people living in the lower areas of Managua - those living close to Xolotlan Lake - were evacuated.

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) was also planning to activate. SATERN helps train and acquire personnel skilled in emergency communications and message handling in disaster situations.

Adrianís damage was not expected to approach that of Hurricane Mitch, which hit Central American in 1998, killing about 10,000 people in Honduras and Nicaragua.

The first hurricane of the Pacific season, Adrian has taken an unusual path - east instead of the usual west - toward the Caribbean. It is forecast to move across Central America, where it will likely break up over the mountains and be downgraded again to a tropical storm or tropical depression.

By Friday afternoon, the system was expected to continue on into the Caribbean and keep moving closer to Cuba. Forecasters said it would likely be out of the Caribbean by Monday morning. If the storm loses the circulation over the mountains and reforms over the Caribbean, it will get the name Arlene, the first name on the Atlantic names list for 2005.

According to weather historians, at least three storms have survived the trip over Central America in the past. The last one - an unnamed tropical storm - was in 1965. In 1923 and 1902, hurricanes survived the trek from the Pacific into the Gulf of Mexico.

The good news: Adrian might help relieve Cubaís current drought.


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