Tropical Storm Odette (2003)

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Tropical Storm Odette
Tropical storm ( SSHS)
Tropical Storm Odette approaching Hispaniola on December 6, 2003

Tropical Storm Odette approaching Hispaniola on December 6, 2003
Formed December 4, 2003
Dissipated December 9, 2003
65 mph (100 km/h) (1-minute sustained)
Lowest pressure 993 mbar ( hPa)
Damage $8 million (2003 USD)
$8 million (2006 USD)
Fatalities 8 direct, 2 indirect
Dominican Republic, Haiti
Part of the
2003 Atlantic hurricane season

Tropical Storm Odette was a rare out-of-season tropical storm that affected the Caribbean Sea in December of 2003. The fifteenth tropical storm of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season, Odette formed near the coast of Panama a few days after the official end of the Atlantic hurricane season, and ultimately made landfall on the Dominican Republic as a moderate tropical storm.

The storm caused heavy damage throughout the Dominican Republic from unusually heavy rainfall in December. Preparation preceding Odette's landfall resulted in only 8 deaths and 14 injuries. Total damage is unknown, though crop damage in the Dominican Republic totaled to over $8 million (2003 USD, $8.8 million 2006 USD).

Storm history

Storm path
Storm path

A cold front extended through the Caribbean Sea in late November. A low pressure area developed north of Panama on December 1, and as it drifted northeastward, it slowly organized. Convection organized with the approach of a tropical wave, and on December 4, Tropical Depression Twenty formed 345 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica. Generally favorable conditions for development continued, and the depression became Tropical Storm Odette later on the 4th.

Odette strengthened in spite of being impacted by southwesterly shear, reaching its peak of 65 mph on December 6. The low-level circulation slowed down, while the storm's strong convection continued ahead of the storm. Because of this, the storm weakened slightly to a 60 mph tropical storm by the time it made landfall on Cabo Falso, Dominican Republic. It crossed the island, and upon reaching the Atlantic, lost much organization. On the 7th, Odette became extratropical, and continued northeast as an extratropical storm for two more days before dissipating.


Odette over the southern Caribbean Sea
Odette over the southern Caribbean Sea

Prior to Odette's predicted arrival, the Dominican Republic government issued for the evacuation of more than 10,000 people, mostly from those living near rivers. At least 2,000 shelters were set up, capable of housing up to 800,000 people. In addition, the government mobilized the army to force those unwilling to leave from their homes. Such precautions were taken due to already saturated grounds from heavy rainfall three weeks prior.

A tropical storm watch was issued between Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic/Haiti border on the 4th 56 hours prior to landfall. This was raised to a tropical storm warning on the 5th while 32 hours before landfall. In addition, tropical storm warning were issued for all of the Haitian coastline and Jamaica.


While over the southwestern Caribbean Sea, Odette dropped heavy rainfall, including prior to its formation. For several days, the storm caused rains in Panama, Costa Rica, and the east coast of Nicaragua. In Colombia, the storm caused rainfall totals of up to 8 inches (200 mm) in Puerto Columbiana. In Jamaica, the storm dropped moderate rainfall, flooding several roads in Saint Ann and Saint Mary Parishes. Odette caused moderate damage and 8 deaths in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic

Flooding in the Dominican Republic
Flooding in the Dominican Republic

Winds from Tropical Storm Odette were relatively light across the Dominican Republic, with a peak gust of 60 mph occurring in Santo Domingo. The storm dropped heavy rainfall for several hours, amounting to a maximum of 9.07 inches (230 mm) in Isla Saona. Several other locations reported over 4 inches as well. The rainfall caused mudslides and flash flooding, forcing several rivers to overflow in combination with previous rains. In addition, a tornado was reported near Santo Domingo, destroying one house and uproofing several others.

The flooding and mudslides damaged up to 60,000 homes and destroyed 34. Gusty winds caused power outages. River flooding caused two bridges to collapse, isolating several communities. Landslides buried several roads, though authorities quickly repaired them. The rainfall also flooded fields, resulting in severe crop damage. As much as 85% of the banana crop was lost, while the coffee crop suffered losses shortly before harvest season. Crop damage totaled to around $8 million (2003 USD, $8.8 million 2006 USD). In addition, excess flooding contaminated water supplies, leaving several areas without clean water or sanitation.

In all, Tropical Storm Odette caused 8 deaths and 14 injuries, mostly due to flash flooding and mudslides. In addition, two indirect deaths are associated with the storm due to heart attacks. Neighboring Haiti experienced little from the storm.

Puerto Rico and United States Virgin Islands

Rainfall totals from Odette
Rainfall totals from Odette

Though Odette passed 280 miles to the west of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, the storm caused moderate rainfall across Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. Rainfall in Puerto Rico was heaviest in the southeast, where a peak of 8.73 inches was recorded in Jajome Alto. The storm also caused up to 2.2 inches of rainfall in Christiansted on Saint Croix.

Odette's rainfall caused flooding throughout the island's rivers. The river flooding destroyed three bridges, resulting in $20,000 in damages (2003 USD). The flooding also caused a mudslide near a cemetery in Humacao. The rainfall also covered numerous roads, though overall damage was minimal throughout Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.


In all, 65,000 people were affected by Tropical Storm Odette. The Dominican Republic Red Cross and Red Crescent deployed 105 volunteers to the impacted areas, primarily in the area of Montecristi. The organization provided food and hygiene kits to thousands of people, as well as mosquito nets. The Red Cross also gave a 5,000 liter water tank for the citizens in Montecristi, an area without clean water or sanitation.


When Odette formed on December 4, it became the first tropical storm since the beginning of the modern tropical cyclone record to form in the Caribbean Sea in the month of December; a documented December Caribbean hurricane occurred in 1822 . However, Tropical Storm Karen, which formed in November of 1989, persisted until December while located in the northwestern Caribbean Sea. In addition, Odette was the first Atlantic storm to form in the month of December since Hurricane Lili in 1984.

The 2003 season was the first season since 1953 to have a pre-season storm and a post-season storm, with Ana in April and Odette.

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