Hurricane Otto
Category 3 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Otto 2016-11-24 1605Z
Hurricane Otto at peak intensity on November 24, nearing landfall
Formed November 20, 2016
Dissipated November 26, 2016 (in East Pacific basin)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 115 mph (185 km/h)
Lowest pressure 975 mbar (hPa); 28.79 inHg
Fatalities 23 total
Damage > $190 million (2016 USD)
Areas affected Central America
Part of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season and 2016 Pacific hurricane season

Hurricane Otto was the latest major hurricane in the Atlantic basin on record, and the strongest Atlantic hurricane to ever exist on Thanksgiving Day. It also became the first Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Cesar–Douglas in 1996 to survive the crossover from the Atlantic basin to the East Pacific basin. The 15th and final named storm of the active 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, Otto formed from an area of low pressure in the Southwest Caribbean Sea and eventually strengthened to major hurricane status, making landfall in Nicaragua at this intensity.

Meteorological history

On November 12, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) noted the possibility of a low pressure area to develop in the southwestern Caribbean Sea. Several days later, the low pressure area developed and was designated Invest 90L, but was sparse in convective activity. The low pressure struggled to develop while moving very little. However, a burst of convection took place on November 19, and NHC issued a

Tropical Depression Sixteen shortly after formation

special tropical weather outlook indicating that only a slight increase in organization would result in the formation of a tropical depression. The next day, a reconnaissance aircraft investigated the system. It found winds near tropical storm force and a well-defined circulation, but lacked enough deep convection to be classified as a tropical cyclone. At 09:00 UTC on November 21, the low pressure system finally acquired significant organization to be designated Tropical Depression Sixteen in the southwestern Caribbean Sea. At 18:00 UTC that day, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Otto when an ASCAT pass showed winds as high as 50 mph. That evening, Otto began to develop an eye feature, and early on November 22 a reconnaissance aircraft identified that Otto was near hurricane strength. At 21:00 UTC that day, Otto strengthened into a hurricane. Otto fell below hurricane strength at 12:00 UTC on November 23, likely as a result of upwelling since the cyclone was moving so slow.

At 00:00 UTC on November 24, Otto regained hurricane strength and began a short period of rapid intensification afterwards. By 12:00 UTC that day, reconnaissance aircraft found that Otto had acquired category 3 hurricane status, and made landfall in Nicaragua at this intensity. Otto emerged into the East Pacific early on November 25, but its circulation had become somewhat tilted. Strong shear caused Otto to weaken rapidly in the Pacific, and the cyclone dissipated by 21:00 UTC on November 26.


Otto's impacts were far reaching and extensive. In Panama, 9 people were killed as a result of the storm, including 3 that drowned in the sinking of the ship Jessica. In Nicaragua, 3-6 inches of rain fell as a result of Otto. Otto damaged almost 870 buildings in the country, and 4 people were killed. Costa Rica was the hardest hit by Otto; Otto was the first storm to pass directly over the nation. 8 inches of rain fell in some locations. Otto killed at least 10 people in that country, with President Luis Guillermo Solis of Costa Rica calling the situation "Chaotic and unprecedented". Overall, Otto caused $190 million dollars in damages and 23 deaths.


The name Otto was later retired at the WMO's Hurricane Committee on March 26, 2017 due to its significant impacts on Central America (especially in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua), and replaced with Owen, which will be used for the 2022 season.