Hurricane Clarissa was the third hurricane of the 1995 Pacific hurricane season. It passed through the Gulf of Fernandez in the East Pacific Ocean, near Central America. Since it is a fictional hurricane, not much is known about its meteorological history or economic impacts, other than the fact that it passed over the Muertes Archipelago and was the final deciding factor in the abandonment of the InGen Site B facility on Isla Sorna.
No exact timeline of Hurricane Clarissa’s activity has been released yet, but it is known to have been active in 1995; based on its naming convention it was the third Pacific hurricane that season. In unused dialogue found in earlier scripts of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, John Hammond states that Hurricane Clarissa made landfall at Isla Sorna “about twenty-four months” prior to the film’s events; it is believed that the film takes place in late May, suggesting that Hurricane Clarissa was active in late May 1995. Most hurricanes last for a few days.
Some fans believe, due to lack of in-film evidence directly stating otherwise, that Hurricane Clarissa occurred days to months after the 1993 Isla Nublar incident and before the end of 1993.
Hurricane Clarissa would have formed out of a tropical depression somewhere in the East Pacific Ocean, probably near or within the Gulf of Fernandez. Upon achieving hurricane status, it would have been identified and named by the National Hurricane Center of the United States of America. It progressed over the ocean, most likely in a northwesterly direction, at one point passing over the Muertes Archipelago around two hundred miles off the coast. This is its only confirmed landfall. At the time, only the island Isla Sorna is believed to have been inhabited; it had been utilized by International Genetic Technologies over the past decade or so for de-extinction research and development. In 1993, activity on the island had been severely decreased at the order of InGen’s CEO Dr. John Hammond. With the approach of Hurricane Clarissa, InGen began evacuating the island entirely, removing certain valuable assets but leaving animal specimens onsite. Some of the research materials were lost during the evacuation, representing irrecoverable losses to InGen and to scientific progress. Animals left on the island were allowed to roam into the wild, the assumption being that they would die off soon.
The hurricane caused severe infrastructural damage to Isla Sorna’s Site B facilities, including the destruction of many of the restraining technologies that had once restricted the animals’ movements. John Hammond took this opportunity to completely abandon InGen facilities on Isla Sorna, having discarded ideas of keeping the animals in captivity; he later referred to the hurricane as an “act of God.” Financial losses to InGen were enormous, and with the company already suffering from numerous lawsuits and other difficulties, it came near to bankruptcy.
It is unknown when Hurricane Clarissa finally dissipated, or whether it made landfall on the Central American mainland. The distance between the Muertes Archipelago and Costa Rica suggests it remained out to sea for the duration of its lifespan. No human deaths are currently attributed to this hurricane, and the evacuation of Isla Sorna and subsequent infrastructural damage to Site B are its only confirmed economic impacts.
Hurricanes in the East Pacific Ocean usually form between May 15 and November 30, with an average of nine hurricanes each year (out of a total of 16 tropical storms; out of the hurricanes, an average of four become severe). Tropical air blown westward from northern South America reaches the Pacific Ocean and is warmed in low-pressure conditions, causing distinct regions of warm, moist air to rise upward and create thunder showers. These can organize into tropical depressions and give rise to tropical cyclones as their rotation interacts with Earth’s. A number of specific conditions are needed for the tropical storm to become a hurricane: these include ocean surface temperatures of about 81 °F (27 °C), sufficient Coriolis force, unstable atmospheric conditions, and high tropospheric humidity. If wind shear is low, as often occurs in the East Pacific, rapid intensification may occur and a smaller storm can quickly become a major hurricane.
The 1995 Pacific hurricane season was less active than most, and was the least active season since 1979. Only eleven tropical cyclones formed that year, seven of which became hurricanes, three of which became major hurricanes. It is not known whether Hurricane Clarissa was among them; the season (and presumably others, based on the cyclone naming pattern used in canon) occurred differently in S/F and related canons than in real life.
While it is not known what category Hurricane Clarissa peaked at, the weakest hurricanes are classified as Category 1 by the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale; these have sustained wind speeds of between 74 and 95 miles per hour (119 to 153 kilometers per hour). This is the minimum sustained wind speed Hurricane Clarissa could have had. In order to cause widespread infrastructural damage on Isla Sorna, it probably had wind speeds that would classify it in a higher category, along with heavy rain, lightning, and a powerful storm surge.
Hurricanes dissipate when they are no longer sustained by warm, humid air rising up from the ocean surface. Moving over colder water, outside of the area of low air pressure, or over land often leads to the demise of a hurricane. Since it occurred fairly far from land, Hurricane Clarissa most likely met its end by moving out of the low-pressure region that gave rise to it, or moving northward until the sea surface temperature was too cold to support its continuation.
Behind the Scenes
In real life, the 1995 Pacific hurricane season started with the formation of Tropical Depression One-E on May 21; the first named hurricane of the season was Hurricane Adolph. The real third hurricane of that season was Hurricane Cosme, which lasted from July 17 until July 22 and did not come anywhere near Isla Sorna’s fictional location. This hurricane season began with a male name, so it would have been impossible for the third hurricane that year to have been given a female name since they alternate back and forth. This is also the case if (as some fans suggest) Hurricane Clarissa actually happened in 1993, since the third hurricane that season was named Calvin.