This classic Cape Verde hurricane was first detected as a tropical wave emerging from the coast of Africa on September 9. Moving steadily westward, the system became a tropical depression the next day, a tropical storm on the 11th, and a hurricane on the 13th.
Hugo turned west-northwest on September 15 as it became a Category 5 hurricane. It was still a Category 4 hurricane when the center moved through the Leeward Islands and St. Croix, USVI, and the 18th.
Turning northwestward, the center passed across the eastern end of Puerto Rico on September 19. This general motion would continue with some acceleration until Hugo made landfall just north of Charleston, South Carolina on 22 September.
Strengthening in the last twelve hours before landfall made Hugo a Category 4 hurricane at the coast. After landfall, the storm gradually recurved northeastward, becoming extratropical over southeastern Canada on September 23.
The Naval Air Station at Roosevelt Roads, PR reported sustained winds of 104 mph with gusts to 120 mph, which were the highest winds reported from the Caribbean. A ship moored in the Sampit River in South Carolina measured sustained winds of 120 mph.
High winds associated with Hugo extended far inland, with Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina reporting 67 mph sustained winds with gusts to 110 mph and Charlotte, North Carolina reporting 69 mph sustained winds and gusts to 99 mph.
Storm surge from Hugo inundated the South Carolina Coast from Charleston to Myrtle Beach, with maximum storm tides of 20 ft observed in the Cape Romain-Bulls Bay area.
Hugo was responsible for 21 deaths in the mainland United States, five more in Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands, and 24 more elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Damage estimates are $7 billion in the mainland United States and $1 billion in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.