MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hurricane history is full of storms that are torn about by the tall mountains of Hispaniola. CBS4 Chief Meteorologist Craig Setzer remembers one of those storms very well.

“[Debby] was the first serious storm threat I worked in Miami. The models said category 3 or 4, somewhere between the Upper Keys and Broward,” he said.

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Setzer remembers the storm better for what it didn’t do than what it did. Debby didn’t hit Miami, or anywhere near Miami.

Debby dissipated unexpectedly. (CBS4)

The storm, after becoming a category 1 storm near the Northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, crossed almost directly over Hispaniola and literally came apart.

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“I remember watching the satellite loop and seeing this swirl racing away from the entire storm,” he recalled.

That swirl, or low level center as meteorologists label it, is the heart of any hurricane. Without a low level center, you can’t maintain a hurricane or tropical storm for very long. Debby dissipated later that day.

In many ways, Debby from over two decades ago is similar to Fred of today.

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The similarities between Fred and Debby. (CBS4)

However, Fred is smaller and weaker, already struggling against dry air and some wind shear. And while it’s too early to tell if Fred will come apart in Debby fashion, the tall mountains of Hispaniola will definitely have a weakening and disruptive effect of the storm.

Craig Setzer