Hurricane Lili is only the fourth hurricane and second major hurricane of the 2002 Atlantic Hurricane Season. However, it has already brought along a swath of destruction, and could be poised to do more as it treks through the Gulf over the next couple days.
Lili has had quite a bumpy ride since forming on September 21st, 2002. Originally a depression in the Central Leeward Islands, the storm encountered difficulty with wind shear and a rapid motion that outran its circulation, but its resiliency not only held it together, but it helped make the storm such a powerful storm much like Andrew did in 1992.
It would then go on a march through the Western Caribbean islands of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Western Cuba that left these areas under additional rain after Isidore moved through as well as strong Category One Hurricane strength winds. Now, it is poised to become a nightmare of a problem for residents of the Louisiana, and in particular, New Orleans.
Lili was a classic Cape Verde Storm that first formed as a tropical wave on September 13th. It moved through the Atlantic Ocean underneath a strong subtropical ridge in the Central Atlantic. Lili became a tropical depression on the 21st of September, and then strengthened and organized into the 12th named storm of the season as it approached the Windward Islands.
Moving on a West-Northwesterly track, Lili moved through the Central Leeward Islands, and intensified further to be on the verge of hurricane status with 70 mph winds. However, the circulation, which had been moving rapidly through the Western Atlantic, and Eastern Caribbean, seemed to have become somewhat disorganized.
As a result, Lili went through a period of adversity with its winds first downgraded to 45 mph, then back up to 65 mph, and then eventually weakened to a tropical depression.
Like Isidore and Kyle before it, Lili was quite resilient as it came back as a tropical depression around the time of September 26th and September 27th, 2002. Then, on September 28th, Lili began making a comeback as it headed toward Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in the Western Caribbean.
Lili became a tropical storm, and maintained that intensity as it moved through Jamaica with torrential rains, and 45 mph winds. Jamaica, which had experienced tremendous rainfall from Isidore about a week to ten days earlier, suffered another deadly round of flooding and mudslides.
As Lili moved away from Montego Bay in Jamaica, it began to strengthen in earnest, and was approaching hurricane strength again as it approached the Caymans.
Lili became a hurricane as it moved through the smaller Cayman islands of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. The storm then continued to intensify as it approached the Southwestern tip of Cuba as well as the Isle of Youth. On October 1st, 2002, the winds of Lili grew to a strong Category One Hurricane at 85 mph.
The hurricane began to form a faint eye, and the eyewall began to tighten around the center. Heavy rains and gusty winds lashed Western Cuba, which was left reeling from Isidore. As Lili left Western Cuba, and entered the Southern Gulf of Mexico, its winds grew to a strong Category Two Hurricane with 100 mph winds.
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