Tropical Storm Chris 1988

Preliminary Report
Tropical Storm Chris
21 - 30 August 1988


Tropical Storm Alberto (TS)
Tropical Storm Beryl (TS)
Tropical Storm Chris (TS)
Hurricane Debby (1)
Tropical Storm Ernesto (TS)
Hurricane Florence (1)
Hurricane Gilbert (5)
Hurricane Helene (4)
Tropical Storm Isaac (TS)
Hurricane Joan (4)
Tropical Storm Keith

a. Synoptic History

Chris was first detected as a tropical wave near the west coast of Africa on 15 August. It became a tropical depression on the 21st in the tropical Atlantic midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles when a low level cloud circulation was identified on satellite imagery.

The track is a smooth parabola in the shape of the periphery of the Atlantic subtropical surface high pressure ridge. Chris remained a depression for seven days as it moved from the tropical Atlantic across portions of the Lesser and Greater Antilles and over the Bahamas. It became a tropical storm for only twelve twelve hours, during which time it moved inland near Savannah, Georgia.

Satellite analyes indicated that a tropical cyclone was being tracked from the 21st until landfall on the 28th. However, 13 seperate investigative reconnaissance flights on the 23rd through the 27th were usable to fid a well defined low level circulation during this time. Also, even though many of the satellite intensity estimates were for tropical storm status, surface and reconnaissance observations clearly showed that surface wind speeds were below 40 mph.

Finally, on the 28th, reconnaissance aircraft located a low level circulation center at 0600 UTC just east of Melbourne, Florida and a ship located about 50 nautical miles northeast of the center reported 46 mph sustained winds and the system was upgraded to Tropical Storm Chris on this basis. At 1000 UTC, a tropical storm watch was issued from Edisto Beach, South Carolina to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and tropical storm warnings were issued at 1200 UTC from Savannah, Georgia to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The system had been moving at about 14 mph for the several days prior to becoming a tropical storm. However, when it came abeam of Florida, its motion for the next 24 hours averaged 21 mph and for the period from 0600 UTC to 1200 UTC on the 28th, its speed of motion was 31 mph. Perhaps the apparent rapid acceleration was due to the reformation of the circulation center.

b. Meteorological Statistics

The center of Chris made landfall at 1500 UTC on the 28th near Savannah, Georgia. The highest observed sustained wind speed was 43 mph at the Savannah Light Tower with an anemometer elevation of 70 feet.

1. Storm Surge Data

Storm surge tides range up to 1.5 feet above normal astronomical tide levels.

2. Rainfall Data

Rainfall storm totals near the coast were less than 3 inches.

c. Casualty and Damage Statistics

There was 1 deaths attributed to Chris; 1 in South Carolina.

Chris weakened to a depression over South Carolina and then merged with a front. The surface low pressure system was tracked across the northeastern U.S. and over to Nova Scotia on the 30th. Inland rainfall amounts ranged from 3 to 5 inches in a swath from South Carolina to through Pennsylvania and into Vermont. Strong thunderstorms also accompanied the low center. One death and one injury resulted from a tornado that destroyed a number of mobile homes in Clarendon County, South Carolina. Otherwise, in general, wind damage was minor. The total U.S. damage for this storm is estimated at $1.5 Million. While near Puerto Rico on the 24th, the depression dumped 4.5 inches of rain on the island and three deaths were attributed to the weather.

Maximum Intensity For Tropical Storm Chris
21 - 30 August, 1988

Position Pressure
Wind Speed
Lat. (°N) Lon. (°W)
28/1200 30.8 80.8 1005 50 Tropical Storm

Landfall for Tropical Storm Chris
21 - 30 August, 1988
Wind Speed
Stage Landfall
28/1500 1005 50 Tropical Storm Savannah,