The storm that would become Hurricane Gordon forms in the Gulf of Mexico east of Costa Rica on this day in 1994. Although it spent far more time as a tropical storm than as a hurricane, Gordon went on to kill as many as a thousand people in Central America, the Caribbean and South Florida.
Immediately after forming over the western part of the Gulf of Mexico, the storm’s heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Slowly, it moved east across the Gulf, picking up strength and attaining status as a tropical storm. By November 13, it reached Jamaica, packing 45 mile-per-hour winds and extremely heavy rains. In just a short time, Gordon killed two people and caused $50 million dollars in damages.
Next, Gordon moved on to Haiti, where its torrential rains caused flash flooding and severe mudslides. The official death toll was 380 people, but American troops stationed there as part of a peacekeeping operation believed that the true count was considerably higher.
As the storm moved toward Florida, it forced NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to move a landing of the space shuttle Atlantis to California. About 500,000 residents of southern Florida lost electrical power because of Gordon and the region’s strawberry crop was virtually wiped out. Then, as it moved back to sea, Gordon finally reached hurricane status with 85 mile-per-hour winds.
Hurricane Gordon’s strong winds caused a 16-foot storm surge on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The waves also drowned two fishermen on the Florida coast. The storm then weakened and moved west again to the Florida coast where it finally dissipated.