Hurricane Gilbert slammed into Jamaica, killing hundreds of people, on September 12, 1988. The storm went on to cause death and destruction in Mexico and spur a batch of tornadoes in Texas.
On September 10, Gilbert attained hurricane status west of the Dominican Republic. Barometer readings fell precipitously there the following day, eventually reaching 26.13, the lowest ever recorded to that date. Gaining strength, Gilbert slid past Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, heading straight for Jamaica.
On September 12, with winds reaching 175 miles per hour, the now Category 5 hurricane devastated Jamaica. With a 40-mile-wide eye, the hurricane covered the entire island. About 80 percent of the island’s homes were seriously damaged and approximately 500,000 of the country’s 2 million people were left homeless. More than 200 people lost their lives.
Two days later, Gilbert was still going strong when it crossed the Gulf of Mexico and hit the Yucatán Peninsula. Cancun lost half of its hotels and nearby Cozumel was also severely damaged. Thirty thousand people in the area lost their homes. As the storm moved toward the peninsula’s west side, tens of thousands were forced to flee. In all, almost 200,000 Mexicans were left homeless by Gilbert.