Mitch formed in the western Caribbean Sea on October 22, and after drifting throughextremely favorable conditions, it rapidly strengthened to peak at Category 5 status, the highest possible rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Afterdrifting southwestward and weakening, the hurricane hit Honduras as a minimal hurricane. It drifted through Central America, reformed in the Bay of Campeche,and ultimately struck Florida as a strong tropical storm.
Due to its slow motion from October 29 to November 3, Hurricane Mitch dropped historic amounts ofrainfall in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, with unofficial reports of up to 75 in (1900 mm). Deaths due to catastrophic flooding made it the seconddeadliest Atlantic hurricane in history; nearly 11,000 people were killed with over 11,000 left missing by the end of 1998. As of 2008, the official deathtoll from Mitch was placed at 19,325, with thousands more unaccounted for. Additionally, roughly 2.7 million were left homeless as a result of the hurrican