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Three major hurricanes make landfall.

Three major hurricanes, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, made landfall during the month of September 2004. These hurricanes brought strong winds, heavy rains, flooding, severe weather, death and destruction to many areas east of the Mississippi River. A brief synopsis of each storm is listed below. For further information on these storms, go to www.nhc.noaa.gov.

Hurricane Frances

A vigorous tropical wave moved westward from the African coast on August 21. A depression formed and intensified and reached tropical storm status on August 24. After further intensification, Frances reached peak intensity on August 31 as a category 4 hurricane according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Frances weakened and made a first United States landfall over the southern end of Hutchison Island on September 5 as a category 2 hurricane. Frances moved across Florida in a west-northwestward direction and emerged over the Gulf of Mexico, near Port Richey, on September 6. With winds of 50-55 knots, Frances continued on a northwestward direction and made a final landfall near the mouth of Aucilla River late on September 6. Frances moved inland and weakened while curving into Alabama and western Georgia. Frances then moved northeasterly into West Virginia and across New York and dissipated over the Gulf of St. Lawrence late on September 10.

Frances produced notable storm surges on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of Florida. An estimated 8-foot storm surge occurred near Vero Beach and a 6-foot surge at Cocoa Beach. A storm tide of 6 feet was estimated in Pinellas County, FL.

Heavy rains and flooding occurred over much of the eastern United States. Rainfall in excess of 10 inches occurred in a large area of central and northern Florida, southeastern Georgia, and along the Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina and northeast Georgia. Storm totals of three to ten inches were common along the path of Frances.

Frances is directly responsible for 7 deaths; 5 in Florida, 1 in Bahamas, and 1 in Ohio. An estimated total US property damage (insured and uninsured) is $9 billion dollars, which is the 4th most costly hurricane behind Andrew (1992), Charley (2004), and Ivan (2004).

Previous Page Left: Massive and near record flooding occurred along many rivers in western North Carolina during the passage of Frances. Previous Page Right: A slowly retreating Swannanoa river leaves mud and debris on a bridge. (Photos courtesy: Grant Goodge, NCDC Retired, Asheville, NC)

Hurricane Ivan

Ivan formed from a large tropical wave that moved off the west coast of Africa on August 31. After some thunderstorm development, a tropical depression formed on September 1. Additional development continued and Ivan became a tropical storm on September 3 and a hurricane on September 5. After two rapidly strengthening and weakening phases, Ivan entered the Caribbean Sea on September 8. While in the central Caribbean Sea, Ivan strengthened to a category 5 hurricane. Ivan passed just south of Jamaica on September 11 and weakened slightly due to an eyewall replacement cycle. Ivan again re-strengthened and maintained category 5 status for 30 hours. A weakness in the subtropical ridge over the Gulf of Mexico turned Ivan northwestward. After entering the southern Gulf of Mexico, Ivan turned north-northwest and then northward and slowly started to weaken. Ivan made landfall as a category 3 hurricane on September 16, just west of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Twelve hours after landfall, Ivan weakened to tropical storm status. Later, Ivan became a tropical depression over northeast Alabama. Ivan moved northeasterly and merged with a frontal system over the Delmarva Peninsula on September 18. Over the next several days, the remnants moved south and southwestward and crossed Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico on the afternoon of September 21. Ivan slowly re-strengthened and regained tropical storm status. Ivan then moved northwestward and made a final landfall in extreme southwestern Louisiana as a tropical depression. Ivan quickly dissipated on September 24. Overall, Ivan existed for 22.5 days and produced a track more than 5600 nautical miles long.

Ivan produced heavy rainfall amounts. Rainfall totals were generally from three to seven inches in the United States. Widespread flooding also resulted from the rains. A massive outbreak of 111 tornadoes occurred with the passage of Ivan over three days. At least 8 people were killed and 17 were injured. Overall, 94 deaths are directly attributed to Ivan. Total United States damage is estimated at $14.2 billion dollars.

Hurricane Jeanne

A tropical wave moved from Africa to the eastern tropical Atlantic on September 7. The wave organized and became a tropical depression on September 13 as it neared the Leeward Islands. Jeanne became a tropical storm on September 14 while moving over the Leeward Islands. Jeanne moved across Puerto Rico, over the Mona Passage and inland over the eastern tip of Dominican Republic. While over the Mona Passage, Jeanne strengthened to hurricane status, but weakened to a tropical depression on September 17. Over the next several days, a slowly re-organizing Jeanne moved in an anticyclonic loop and regained hurricane status on September 23. After completing the loop, Jeanne started to move westward and strengthened to a category 3 hurricane on September 25. Jeanne made landfall on the east coast of Florida on Hutchison Island, just east of Stuart on September 26. Jeanne weakened and began to recurve as it crossed Florida. Weakening continued and tropical depression Jeanne moved across central Georgia. Jeanne merged with a frontal zone and became extratropical on September 29 while moving eastward from the mid-Atlantic coast.

Rainfall amounts up to 8 inches occurred in Florida with heavier amounts, 11 to 13 inches, along the eyewall track. Amounts of four to seven inches occurred in Georgia, western Carolina's and Virginia. Five direct United States occurred due to Jeanne. An estimated $6.9 billion dollars is attributed to Jeanne.
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Title Annotation:Outstanding Storms Of The Month
Publication:Storm Data
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
Words:964
Previous Article:The Fujita scale.
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