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Encyclopedia > Hurricane Gaston

The 2004 Atlantic hurricane season officially started June 1, 2004, and lasted until November 30, 2004. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic Ocean. However, this year's season exceeded these conventional limits slightly, as Tropical Storm Otto formed on the last day of the season and lasted two days into December.


The season was notable as one of the deadliest and costliest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, with nearly 3,000 deaths (mostly in Haiti) and roughly 42 billion US dollars in damage. The most notable storms for the season are Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, all of which struck the U.S. state of Florida.


During the season there were nine named storms to landfall in the U.S. and one in Canada, and out of these cyclones, six were hurricanes at landfall, and three were major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) at landfall.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
Category Wind speed Storm surge
mph
(km/h)
ft
(m)

5 >156
(>250)
>18 (>5.5)
4 131–155
(210–249)
13–18
(4.0–5.5)
3 111–130
(178–209)
9–12
(2.7–3.7)
2 96–110
(154–177)
6–8
(1.8–2.4)
1 74–95
(119–153)
4–5
(1.2–1.5)

Tropical
storm
35–73
(56–117)
0–3
(0–0.9)
(edit) (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=Template:Saffir-Simpson-US&action=edit)
Contents

Season summary

The 2004 season had numerous unusual occurrences. The first named storm of the season formed on August 1, giving the season the fifth-latest start since 1952. Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley became the first storms to hit the same U.S. state (Florida) in a 24 hour period since 1906. For the remainder of the season, Florida was hit by three more hurricanes named Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. This is the first time four hurricanes have hit one state in one season since four hurricanes hit the Texas coast in 1886, including the hurricane that destroyed the city of Indianola.


Other storms were individually unusual. Hurricane Alex was the strongest hurricane on record to intensify north of 38 degrees longitude. One storm, Tropical Storm Earl, died out, crossed over into the Pacific Ocean, regenerated and became Hurricane Frank in the eastern Pacific.

Enlarge
Hurricane Ivan sank and stacked numerous boats at Bayou Grande Marina at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.

August 2004 was unusually active, with eight named storms forming during the month. In an average year, only three or four storms would be named in August. The formation of eight named storms in August breaks the old record of seven for the month, set in the 1933 and 1995 seasons. It also ties with September 2002 for the most Atlantic tropical storms to form in any month.


The most unusual storm of the season was Hurricane Ivan. Ivan first impressed meteorologists by becoming the first major hurricane (category three or above) on record to form as low as 10 degrees latitude. Ivan was also recorded as the sixth most intense hurricane on record, with a minimum central pressure recorded at 910 millibars. One very unusual occurrence in relation to Ivan happened on September 22, when a remnant low from Ivan--which had travelled in a circular motion over the southeastern United States--was reclassified as a tropical depression as it moved over the Gulf of Mexico. The system was given the name Ivan and eventually strengthed into a respectable tropical storm with winds of 65 mph before making landfall along the coast of Texas, causing minimal flooding and damage.


As of late September the 2004 season was also very deadly, with nearly 3,000 deaths related to the flooding rains or winds caused by the storms. Nearly 3,000 deaths were reported in Haiti following the floods and mudslides caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne. This season has so far seen 16 tropical depressions, 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). The Accumulated Cyclone Energy figure of 222 (254% of the long-term median) ranks this as the fourth most active season since 1950 (behind 1995, 1969 and 2003).


Pre-season forecasts

On May 17, prior to the start of the season, NOAA forecasters predicted a 50% probability of activity above the normal range, with 12-15 tropical storms, 6-8 of those becoming hurricanes, and 2-4 of those hurricanes reaching at least Category 3 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.


Noted hurricane expert Dr. William Gray's May 28 prediction was similar, with 14 named storms, 8 reaching hurricane strength, and 3 reaching Category 3 strength.


On August 6, Dr. Gray announced he had revised his predictions slightly downwards, citing warmer oceans, to 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 reaching category 3. Several days later, NOAA released an updated prediction as well, with a 45% probability of above-normal activity, but the same number of storms forecast.


A normal season, as defined by NOAA, has 6 to 14 tropical storms, 4 to 8 of which reach hurricane strength, and 1 to 3 of those reaching Category 3 strength.


The season ended up with 16 tropical depressions, 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and six major hurricanes, placing it well above all forecasts.


Events

March

Although not part of the traditional Atlantic hurricane season, one event in the South Atlantic was so unusual as to merit inclusion here.


On March 25, a tropical cyclone (unofficially named Catarina) formed in the South Atlantic. Although its status is questioned, Catarina is considered to be the first hurricane to have formed in the South Atlantic since satellite observations began.


It made landfall late on March 27 in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. The storm killed at least three, and caused over 350 million USD in damage.


June

No named storms formed in June 2004. On average, June has a roughly 50% chance of having no named storms. This is not an indication of a quiet season, as even active seasons often have no named storms form in June.


July

  • July 31 - 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression One forms 175 miles (280 km) south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina.

August

  • August 1
    • 2 pm EDT (1800 UTC) - Tropical Depression One is upgraded to Tropical Storm Alex.
  • August 3
    • 2 am EDT (0600 UTC) - Tropical Storm Alex is upgraded to Hurricane Alex.
    • 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Hurricane Alex reaches Category 2 strength.
    • 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Tropical Depression Two forms near the Lesser Antilles, 460 miles (740 km) east of the Windward Islands.
    • Hurricane Alex skirts the Outer Banks of North Carolina but does not make landfall.
  • August 4
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Two degenerates to a tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean Sea.
  • August 5
    • 5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Hurricane Alex reaches Category 3 strength. The storm is centered 625 miles (1000 km) southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, among the furthest north a storm has ever reached this strength.
  • August 6
  • August 9
    • 1:45 pm AST (1745 UTC) - Tropical Depression Three forms near the Windward Islands, 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Grenada.
    • 4 pm CDT (2100 UTC) - The remnants of Tropical Depression Two organize into Tropical Storm Bonnie in the southern Gulf of Mexico.
  • August 10
    • 5 am AST (0900 UTC) - Tropical Depression Three is upgraded to Tropical Storm Charley.
  • August 11
    • 2 pm EDT (1800 UTC) - Tropical Storm Charley is upgraded to Hurricane Charley.
    • Hurricane Charley skirts the southern coast of Jamaica.
  • August 12
    • ca. 8 am EDT (1200 UTC) - Hurricane Charley passes between Grand Cayman and Little Cayman.
    • ca. 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Tropical Storm Bonnie makes landfall near Apalachicola, Florida.
    • 2 pm EDT (1800 UTC) - Hurricane Charley reaches Category 2 intensity.
  • August 13
    • Just after 12 am EDT (0400 UTC) - Hurricane Charley makes landfall in Cuba, crossing over land to the west of Havana as a Category 3 storm, but weakens back down to Catergory 2.
    • 11 am AST (1500 UTC) - Tropical Depression Four forms 275 miles (445 km) south-southeast of Cape Verde.
    • 1 pm EDT (1700 UTC) - Hurricane Charley reaches Category 3 intensity again.
    • 1:15 pm EDT (1715 UTC) - Hurricane Charley reaches Category 4 intensity.
    • 4 pm EDT (2000 UTC) - Hurricane Charley makes landfall just north of Fort Myers, Florida.
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Five forms 1045 miles (1680 km) east-southeast of the Windward Islands.
    • Hurricane Charley crosses central Florida, striking Orlando.
    • 11 pm AST (0300 UTC) - Tropical Depression Four is upgraded to Tropical Storm Danielle.
    • 11 pm EDT (0300 UTC) - Tropical Depression Bonnie is classified as extratropical.
  • August 14
    • 2 am EDT (0600 UTC) - Hurricane Charley exits Florida near Daytona Beach.
    • 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Hurricane Charley makes landfall again near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as a Category 1 storm.
    • 2 pm EDT (1800 UTC) - Hurricane Charley is downgraded to a Tropical Storm.
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Five strengthens into Tropical Storm Earl.
    • 11 pm AST (0300 UTC) - Tropical Storm Danielle is upgraded to Hurricane Danielle.
  • August 15
    • 10 am EDT (1400 UTC) - Tropical Storm Earl passes just south of Grenada and enters the Caribbean.
    • 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Tropical Storm Charley dissipates just east of Cape Cod.
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Danielle reaches Category 2 intensity.
  • August 16
    • 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Tropical Storm Earl degenerates to a tropical wave.
  • August 18
    • 11 am AST (1500 UTC) - Hurricane Danielle is downgraded to a Tropical Storm.
  • August 20
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Tropical Storm Danielle is downgraded to a Tropical Depression.
  • August 21
    • 11 am AST (1500 UTC) - Danielle dissipates into a broad area of low-pressure.
  • August 24
    • 11 pm EDT (0300 UTC Aug. 25) - Tropical Depression Six forms 870 miles (1400 km) west-southwest of Cape Verde.
  • August 25
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Six is upgraded to Tropical Storm Frances.
  • August 26
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Storm Frances is upgraded to Hurricane Frances.
  • August 27
    • 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Hurricane Frances reaches Category 2 strength.
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Seven forms 140 miles (225 km) south-east of Charleston, South Carolina.
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Frances reaches Category 3 strength.
  • August 28
    • 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Tropical Depression Seven is upgraded to Tropical Storm Gaston.
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Frances reaches Category 4 strength.
  • August 29
    • 10 am EDT (1400 UTC) - Tropical Storm Gaston reaches hurricane strength and makes landfall near McClellanville, South Carolina.
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Eight forms and is designated Tropical Storm Hermine while positioned 325 miles (520 km) southeast of Cape Hatteras.
    • 8 pm EDT (2400 UTC) - Tropical Storm Gaston is downgraded to a Tropical Depression.
  • August 30
    • 11 pm EDT (0300 UTC Aug. 31) - Tropical Depression Gaston is re-upgraded to a Tropical Storm.
  • August 31
    • 2 am EDT (0600 UTC) - Tropical Storm Hermine makes landfall near New Bedford, Massachusetts.
    • 5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Tropical Storm Hermine becomes extratropical

September

  • September 1
    • 5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Tropical Storm Gaston becomes extratropical.
  • September 2
    • 4 pm EDT (2000 UTC) - Hurricane Frances strikes San Salvador Island.
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Nine forms 555 miles (900 km) south-west of Cape Verde.
    • 11 pm EDT (0100 UTC Sep. 3) - Hurricane Frances strikes Cat Island.
  • September 3
    • 5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Tropical Depression Nine is upgraded to Tropical Storm Ivan.
    • 5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Hurricane Frances strikes Eleuthera.
  • September 4
    • Hurricane Frances slowly travels over the Bahamas.
  • September 5
    • ca. 1am EDT (0500 UTC) - Hurricane Frances makes landfall on the east coast of Florida.
    • 5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Tropical Storm Ivan becomes Hurricane Ivan.
    • 1 pm EDT (1700 UTC) - Hurricane Ivan reaches Category 3 strength.
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Frances is downgraded to a tropical storm.
    • 8 pm EDT (2400 UTC) - Hurricane Ivan reaches Category 4 strength.
    • Hurricane Frances slowly grinds its way across Florida
    • ca. 11pm EDT (0300 UTC Sept. 6) - Tropical Storm Frances emerges over the Gulf of Mexico.
  • September 6
    • ca. 2 pm EDT (1800 UTC) - Tropical Storm Frances makes landfall near St. Marks, Florida.
    • 10 pm EDT (0200 UTC Sept. 7) - Tropical Storm Frances is downgraded to Tropical Depression
  • September 7
    • ca. 11 pm EDT (1500 UTC) - Hurricane Ivan strikes Grenada.
  • September 9
    • 2 am AST (0600 UTC) - Hurricane Ivan reaches Category 5 strength less than 100 miles (160 km) away from Aruba.
    • 5 am AST (0900 UTC) - Tropical Depression Ten forms 420 miles (675 km) west-southwest of the Azores...
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - ... and dissipates twelve hours later.
  • September 11
    • Hurricane Ivan passes just south of Jamaica, lashing it with up to 155 mph (250 km/h) winds.
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Ivan has a recorded minimum pressure of 910 millibars, making it the sixth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record.
  • September 12
    • ca. 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) Hurricane Ivan passes close to Grand Cayman, bringing widespread destruction.
  • September 13
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Eleven forms 70 miles (110 km) east-southeast of Guadeloupe.
    • ca. 8 pm EDT (0000 UTC Sept. 14) Hurricane Ivan crosses the western tip of Cuba.
  • September 14
    • 11 am AST (1500 UTC) - Tropical Depression Eleven is upgraded to Tropical Storm Jeanne.
  • September 15
    • ca. 2 pm EDT (1800 UTC) - Tropical Storm Jeanne makes landfall near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.
  • September 16
    • 2.15 am CDT (0715 UTC) - Hurricane Ivan makes landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama.
    • 8 am AST (1200 UTC) - Tropical Storm Jeanne is upgraded to Hurricane Jeanne and makes landfall on the Dominican Republic.
    • 1 pm CDT (1800 UTC) - Hurricane Ivan is downgraded to a tropical storm.
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Jeanne is downgraded to a tropical storm as it interacts with Hispaniola.
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Twelve forms 670 miles (1080 km) west-southwest of the Cape Verde islands.
    • 11 pm AST (0300 UTC Sept. 17) - Tropical Depression Twelve becomes Tropical Storm Karl.
    • 10 pm CDT (0300 UTC Sept. 17) - Tropical Storm Ivan is downgraded to a tropical depression.
  • September 17
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Tropical Storm Jeanne is downgraded to a tropical depression ...
    • 11 pm AST (0300 UTC Sept. 18) - ... and recovers to a tropical storm
  • September 18
    • 5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Tropical Storm Karl is upgraded to Hurricane Karl.
    • 5 am EDT (0900 UTC) - Tropical Depression Ivan becomes extratropical while crossing Virginia. Some remnants travel north, others loop back south.
    • 11 am EDT (1500 UTC) - Hurricane Karl reaches Category 2 strength.
    • 11 pm EDT (0300 UTC) - Hurricane Karl reaches Category 3 strength.
  • September 19
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Thirteen forms 650 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde islands.
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Karl reaches Category 4 strength.
  • September 20
    • 8 am AST (1200 UTC) - Tropical Depression Thirteen is upgraded to Tropical Storm Lisa.
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Tropical Storm Jeanne becomes a hurricane again east of the Bahamas.
  • September 22
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Jeanne reaches Category 2 strength.
    • 6 pm CDT (2300 UTC) - A partial remnant of former Hurricane Ivan regenerates into Tropical Depression Ivan in the Gulf of Mexico.
    • 7 pm CDT (0000 UTC Sept. 23) - Tropical Depression Ivan is upgraded to Tropical Storm Ivan with winds of 40mph, nearly a week after being classified as extratropical.
  • September 23
    • ca. 10 pm CDT (0300 UTC Sept. 24) - Tropical Storm Ivan makes landfall near Cameron, Louisiana.
  • September 24
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Karl becomes extratropical, but remains a strong storm heading north.
    • 10 pm CDT (0300 UTC Sept. 25) - Tropical Depression Ivan downgraded to a remnant low.
  • September 25
    • 8 am AST (1200 UTC) - Hurricane Jeanne strikes Great Abaco.
    • 11 am AST (1500 UTC) - Hurricane Jeanne reaches Category 3 strength.
    • 1 pm AST (1700 UTC) - Hurricane Jeanne strikes Grand Bahama.
    • 11:50 pm EDT (0350 UTC Sept. 26) - Hurricane Jeanne makes landfall near Stuart, Florida.
  • September 26
    • 2 pm EDT (1800 UTC) - Hurricane Jeanne is downgraded to a tropical storm.
  • September 27
    • 2 pm EDT (1800 UTC) - Tropical Storm Jeanne is downgraded to a tropical depression.
  • September 28
    • 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Jeanne becomes extra-tropical.

October

  • October 1
    • 5 PM AST (2100 UTC) - Tropical Storm Lisa is upgraded to Hurricane Lisa.
  • October 2
    • 5 PM AST (2100 UTC) - Hurricane Lisa is downgraded to a tropical storm.
    • 11 PM AST (0300 UTC Oct. 3) - Tropical Storm Lisa starts becoming extratropical, ending advisories.
  • October 8
    • 4 pm CDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Storm Matthew forms 260 miles (420 km) east-southeast of Brownsville, Texas
  • October 9
    • 10 am CDT (1500 UTC) - Tropical Storm Matthew is downgraded to a tropical depression
    • 4 pm CDT (2100 UTC) - Matthew regains tropical storm strength
  • October 10
    • 5 am AST (0900 UTC) - A low-pressure system near Bermuda is classified as Sub-Tropical Storm Nicole.
    • ca. 5 AM CDT (1000 UTC) - Tropical Storm Matthew makes landfall on the Louisiana coast south of Houma.
    • 10 am CDT (1500 UTC) - Tropical Storm Matthew is downgraded to a tropical depression
    • 4 pm CDT (2100 UTC) - Tropical Depression Matthew becomes extra-tropical
  • October 11
    • 5 pm AST (2100 UTC) - Sub-tropical storm Nicole becomes extratropical.

November

  • November 19
    • Later analysis by the National Hurricane Center determine that Tropical Storm Gaston was actually a minimal Category 1 hurricane at landfall.
  • November 30
    • 4 pm EST (2100 UTC) - Tropical Storm Otto forms 810 miles (1300 km) east of Bermuda.

December

  • December 2
    • 10 am EST (1500 UTC) - Tropical Storm Otto dissipates, finally ending the season.

Storms

Hurricane Alex

Enlarge
Hurricane Alex just off the Outer Banks of North Carolina on August 3.

Main article: Hurricane Alex


The first storm of the season formed at the end of July off the coast of South Carolina, an unusually late start. Alex strengthened into a Category Two hurricane, and on August 3 came within ten miles (16 km) of the Outer Banks of North Carolina without making landfall. Damage was limited to flooding and wind damage, and in Dare County, North Carolina was estimated at $2.4 million. One minor injury was reported.


Alex later headed out to sea and strengthened to a 120 mile per hour (195 km/h) Category Three hurricane, making Alex only the second hurricane on record to have reached Category Three strength north of 38N latitude. Alex became extratropical over the north Atlantic, where it continued to produce gale-force winds.


For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Hurricane Alex (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2004/ALEX.shtml?) and their Tropical Cyclone Report (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2004alex.shtml?).


Tropical Storm Bonnie

On August 3, a tropical wave approaching the Lesser Antilles organized into a tropical depression, dubbed Tropical Depression Two, or TD2. As the storm traveled west over the islands, it dissipated on August 4.


The remnants of Tropical Depression Two continued westward, and on August 9, had strengthened into Tropical Storm Bonnie 410 miles (660 km) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Although appearing disorganized, Bonnie showed unusual structure, with a closed eyewall and a ten mile (16 km) eye being reported by Hurricane Hunters on the night of August 9 and morning of August 10. As a NHC forecaster described it, they are "almost unheard of in a system of this intensity." Bonnie was a very small storm, with tropical storm-force winds extending only 30 miles (50 km) out from the center.


Bonnie made landfall as a weakening tropical storm just south of Apalachicola, Florida around 11 a.m. CDT on August 12. Rain was fleeting with the landfall of the tropical system, as the Apalachicola area only experienced thunderstorms for a couple of hours. As Bonnie weakened to a tropical depression, it interacted with an approaching cold front, producing large amounts of rain along the East Coast. Bonnie then exited back into the Atlantic.


At 11 p.m. August 13, what was left of Bonnie had lost tropical characteristics and was positioned beyond the New England seaboard. Bonnie did cause significant rainfall to coastal North Carolina and the New England states. Three deaths in North Carolina were attributed to tornadoes]] spawned by Bonnie.


For the official forecasts, see:

  • the NHC's archive on Tropical Storm Bonnie (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2004/BONNIE.shtml?).
  • the HPC's advisory archive on Bonnie after landfall (http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/tropical2004/BONNIE/BONNIE_archive.shtml).

See also the NHC's Tropical Cyclone Report (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2004bonnie.shtml?).


Hurricane Charley

Main article: Hurricane Charley

Enlarge
NEXRAD image of Hurricane Charley over Charlotte Harbor, Florida just after landfall.

Hurricane Charley formed east of the Windward Islands on August 9 and moved rapidly west across the Caribbean. As it neared Jamaica, it became a hurricane, and grazed that island on the 11th, and passed through the Cayman Islands the next morning. On August 12 Charley passed over mainland Cuba just west of Havana.


On August 13, Charley made landfall as a Category Four hurricane just north of Fort Myers, Florida. It caused serious damage and numerous fatalities as it crossed Florida. After reemerging over water, it struck Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, still maintaining hurricane strength. Charley dissipated near Cape Cod, Massachusetts on August 15. Charley caused approximately $14,000,000,000 dollars in damage to the United States, making it the second costliest hurricane in US history.


For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Hurricane Charley (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2004/CHARLEY.shtml?) and their Tropical Cyclone Report (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2004charlie.shtml?).


Hurricane Danielle

At 11 a.m. AST on August 13, a tropical wave formed into Tropical Depression Four around 275 miles (440 km) southeast of Cape Verde. Twelve hours later, TD4 strengthened and was named Tropical Storm Danielle. Late on August 14, Danielle's wind speeds increased, and it was classified as a hurricane. Danielle moved northwest, peaking at Category Two. It was predicted to curve towards the Azores, but on August 18 lost motion and slackened to a tropical storm. By August 19, the storm had become stationary with minimal storm strength 810 miles (1305 km) southwest of the Azores. The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression the next day, and degenerated to a broad low-pressure area on August 21.


For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Hurricane Danielle (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2004/DANIELLE.shtml?) and their Tropical Cyclone Report (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2004danielle.shtml?).


Tropical Storm Earl

Earl formed initially as the fifth tropical depression of the season on August 13 east of the Lesser Antilles. After traveling west, it reached tropical storm strength on August 14 aound 375 miles (605 km) southeast of Barbados.


On August 15, Earl passed just south of Grenada and entered the Caribbean. The storm had degenerated by that point, and that night would have been classified as a tropical wave. However, the government of Venezuela denied access to their airspace for storm reconnaissance aircraft. An on-site assessment of Earl's circulation was needed since satellite observations are inaccurate for that purpose. Earl also posed a threat to land, so advisories continued for another 12 hours.


The next morning a reconnaissance aircraft was able to reach the storm. It found no closed circulation, and Earl was reclassified as a tropical wave at 11 a.m. AST on August 16. Remnants of the storm continued across the Caribbean and into Central America, later becoming Tropical Depression 8E and then Hurricane Frank in the Pacific Ocean (the first time since 1996, when Hurricane Cesar became Douglas in the Pacific). Earl caused minor damage to Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.


For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Tropical Storm Earl (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2004/EARL.shtml?) and their Tropical Cyclone Report. (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2004earl.shtml?) See also 2004 Pacific hurricane season for information on Earl after it crossed oceans.


Hurricane Frances

Enlarge
Hurricane Frances on September 1.

Main article: Hurricane Frances


Frances became a named storm on August 25 while well east of the Windward Islands. Frances strengthened rapidly, reaching Category 4 intensity by the 27th. Initially forecast to turn north and potentially threaten Bermuda, conditions changed and Frances's predicted track shifted westward. After grazing the Turks and Caicos Islands it plowed through the Bahamas. Frances's slowing movement allowed three million Floridians to evacuate, and the storm weakened as it passed over the islands.


The storm struck the east coast of Florida in the early hours of September 5. It was then a very slow-moving and large storm, and had been downgraded to Category Two strength. Frances travelled northwest over land, only briefly emerging over the Gulf of Mexico. As it passed over Georgia on September 6th, it caused heavy rainfall across the southern US. Frances was downgraded to a tropical depression and dissipated over Pennsylvania on September 9th.


Damage to the United States was approximately $9 billion dollars, making it the fourth costliest hurricane in US history.


For official forecasts, see:

  • the NHC's archive for Hurricane Frances (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2004/refresh/FRANCES+shtml?).
  • the HPC's advisory archive on Frances after landfall (http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/tropical2004/FRANCES/FRANCES_archive.shtml).

See also the NHC's Tropical Cyclone Report. (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2004frances.shtml?)


Hurricane Gaston

Tropical Depression Seven formed at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 UTC) on August 27, around 140 miles (225 km) southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. The depression meandered off the coast for the rest of the day, strengthening into Tropical Storm Gaston by midday August 28.


At 10am EDT (1400 UTC) on August 29, Gaston made landfall on the coast of Bulls Bay, South Carolina, near the towns of McClellanville and Awendaw. It was downgraded to a tropical depression later that day. The storm made landfall in almost the same location as Hurricane Hugo in 1989.


At landfall the storm was originally classified as just shy of hurricane strength. While wind damage in South Carolina was minimal, the slow-moving storm produced five to ten inches (125 to 250 mm) of rain along its path, causing extensive flooding. One confirmed tornado was reported in advance of the storm in eastern North Carolina. Gaston moved north over land, weakening to a tropical depression but still bringing torrential rain to central Virginia where at eight people were reported killed in the ensuing floods. One indirectly caused death was also reported. The Shockoe Bottom entertainment district near downtown Richmond, Virginia was devastated by the flooding. Total damage was estimated at near $130 million.


Late on August 30, as Tropical Depression Gaston crossed Chesapeake Bay, its winds strengthened, and it was again classified as a tropical storm. It headed out over the Atlantic and became extratropical on September 1, about 185 miles (300 km) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia.


On November 19, surface-level winds were determined to be about 75 mph (120 km/h) after a detailed analysis by the NHC, and Gaston was reclassified as a Category 1 hurricane at landfall.


For official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Hurricane Gaston (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2004/GASTON.shtml?) and their Tropical Cyclone Report. (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2004gaston.shtml?)


Tropical Storm Hermine

Hermine formed out of an organized area of disturbed weather that had formed about 325 miles (520 km) south-east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina or 360 miles (580 km) west of Bermuda and moved very rapidly north towards Cape Cod.


On its northward trek, Hermine left behind most of its convection. The storm made landfall near New Bedford, Massachusetts early on August 31 appearing as little more than a low-level swirl of clouds. It became extratropical a few hours later. There were no casualties or reports of damage caused by Hermine.


For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Tropical Storm Hermine (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2004/HERMINE.shtml?) and their Tropical Cyclone Report. (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2004hermine.shtml?)


Hurricane Ivan

Enlarge
Hurricane Ivan infrared satellite image, taken on September 16, 2004 at 1:45 am CDT.

Main article: Hurricane Ivan


Ivan was declared a hurricane on September 5 while 1040 miles (1670 km) east of the Windward Islands, at 9.9 N. Later that day it unexpectedly underwent rapid strengthening reaching Category 4 intensity by that evening.


It passed over Grenada, destroying 90% of Grenadan homes. Ivan continued across the Caribbean Sea, and strengthened into an extremely dangerous Category 5 hurricane. It headed northwest and skimmed the southern coast of Jamaica at Category 4, and then passed within 30 miles (50 km) of Grand Cayman. Ivan grazed the western tip of Cuba at Category 5 strength as it moved into the Gulf of Mexico.


On the 16th Ivan made landfall on the Gulf coast of Alabama at the upper end of Category 3. Ivan sustained hurricane force winds until it reached central Alabama, and caused flooding as far north as Pennsylvania. On the morning of September 21 it combined with a low-pressure system to create hurricane-force winds in Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada.


A remnant of Ivan turned southward and made a loop over the southeastern United States. The low developed into a tropical storm on September 22 in the Gulf of Mexico and was given the name Ivan again. Ivan headed northwest, making landfall near Cameron, Louisiana. The tropical system quickly deteriorated and caused minimal flooding and damage.


Hurricane Ivan is blamed for at least 70 deaths in the Caribbean and 50 in the United States, mostly due to massive flooding. Ivan caused approximately $14,000,000,000 in damage to the United States, making it the third costliest hurricane in United States history. Ivan was the strongest storm of the season, and the only 2004 Atlantic hurricane to reach Category 5 intensity.


For official forecasts see:

  • the NHC's public advisory archive on Hurricane Ivan (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2004/refresh/IVAN+shtml/).
  • the HPC's advisory archive on Ivan after landfall (http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/tropical2004/IVAN/IVAN_archive.shtml).

See also the NHC's Tropical Cyclone Report. (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2004ivan.shtml?)


Hurricane Jeanne

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