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Hurricane Marco-Polo
Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
Formed October 22
Dissipated October 30
Damage $2.8 billion+

Hurricane Marco-Polo was a Category 4 hurricane that was known for its ironic name. The system peaked as a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic and a Category 4 in the Pacific. Marco-Polo was the 13th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and the sixteenth named storm of the 2020 Pacific hurricane season. The second to final storm of both seasons, Marco-Polo was also a late-season catastrophe in Central America and Mexico, leading to Marco's and Polo's retirement in April 2021.

Meteorological history

On October 16, a tropical wave formed near the Lesser Antilles. The wave caused eight fatalities in Hispaniola on October 17, due to flash flooding from the system. The storm was classified as Invest 97L on October 19. Only three days later, the storm skipped depression status and became a tropical storm. The storm was designated the name Marco when being upgraded to that status. The storm hit warm waters, with low shear and high moisture, which led to rapid intensification. Marco became a hurricane on October 24, and continued to strengthen from there. Marco hit its peak intensity in the Atlantic basin with 105 mph before striking Nicaragua, causing $2.8 billion in damages and over 200 fatalities. The storm ended up crossing into the Eastern Pacific basin with 90 mph winds. Due to the elimination of a rule set by the WMO in 2001, the storm was renamed Polo. Polo easily strengthened and had winds of 115 mph, becoming the seventh major hurricane of the 2020 Pacific hurricane season. Polo rapidly strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane before making landfall in Mexico, causing extensive damage. Polo rapidly weakened into a tropical storm before dissipating near Guadalajara, Jalisco.

Preparations and Impact

Hispaniola

The torrential rainfall in Hispaniola led to the evacuation of 800,000 people along the coasts to be moved into sturdier buildings. Another 20,000 had to be moved to Cuba until the system passed. A record one day rainfall total of 780 mm fell in Port-au-Prince.

Nicaragua

Upon the landfall of Marco, Nicaragua evacuated thousands of people more inland, to prevent more deaths from storm surge. A barrier on the coast of Nicaragua prevented more deaths from storm surge, which also helped the damage toll from Marco to be lower than thought. Marco caused $2.8 billion in damages in Nicaragua and killed 223 people.

Mexico

Polo struck Mexico with 130 mph winds, which resulted in extensive damage and eight fatalities.

Aftermath

In April 2021, the WMO retired both Marco and Polo. Marco was replaced with Mason for 2026, and Polo was replaced with Pedro for 2026.

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