2004 Atlantic hurricane season

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2004 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
First system formed July 31, 2004
Last system dissipated December 5, 2004
Strongest storm Ivan – 910 mbar (hPa) (26.88 inHg), 165 mph (270 km/h)
Total depressions 16
Total storms 15
Hurricanes 9
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+) 6
Total fatalities 3000+
Total damage $50 billion (2004 USD)
Atlantic hurricane seasons
2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Related article

The 2004 Atlantic hurricane season had an unusually late date of formation for its first tropical cyclone. It was also notable because more than half of the season's 16 tropical cyclones brushed or struck the United States. The hurricane season officially began on June 1, and ended on November 30. Due to a Modoki El Niño – a rare type of El Niño in which unfavorable conditions are produced over the eastern Pacific instead of the Atlantic basin due to warmer sea surface temperatures farther west along the equatorial Pacific – activity was above average. The first storm, Alex, developed offshore of the Southeastern United States on July 31. It brushed the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic, causing relatively minor impact. Other storms that resulted in minor impacts include Tropical Storms Bonnie, Earl, Hermine, Matthew, and Subtropical Storm Nicole. In addition, Hurricanes Danielle, Karl, and Lisa, Tropical Depression Ten, and Tropical Storm Otto caused no impact on land while tropical cyclones.

Hurricane Charley became the second-costliest hurricane in United States history, at the time, after striking Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, leaving $14 billion in damage. Later in August, Hurricane Frances became the third costliest U.S. hurricane, primarily due to impact in Florida. The most significant storm in terms of intensity and damage was Hurricane Ivan. It was a Category 5 hurricane that devastated multiple countries adjacent to the Caribbean Sea, before entering the Gulf of Mexico and bringing catastrophic impact to the Gulf Coast of the United States. After becoming extratropical on August 18, the remnants executed a large cyclonic loop and regenerated into a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico on August 22. It later struck Texas and quickly dissipated. In the United State alone, Ivan caused $18.8 billion in losses, more than Hurricane Charley. The most significant tropical cyclone in terms of deaths was Hurricane Jeanne. In Haiti, torrential rainfall in the mountains resulted in mudslides and severe flooding, causing at least 3,006 fatalities. The storm also left 8 deaths in Puerto Rico, 18 in the Dominican Republic, and 5 in the United States, for a total of at least 3,036 people killed.

Collectively, the storms of this season caused at least 3,258 deaths and $50 billion in damage, making it the costliest Atlantic hurricane season at the time, until the following season. Additionally, 2004 was also the deadliest Atlantic hurricane season since 1998. With 6 hurricanes reaching at least Category 3 intensity, 2004 also had the most major hurricanes since 1964. However, that record would also be surpassed in 2005, with 7 major hurricanes that year. In the spring of 2005, four names were retired, which were Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne – tying the then-record most names with 1955 and 1995 – but surpassed with five in 2005.

Seasonal forecasts[edit]

Predictions of tropical activity in the 2004 season
Source Date Tropical
storms
Hurricanes Major
hurricanes
CSU Average (1950–2000) 9.6 5.9 2.3
NOAA Average[1] 11 6 2
CSU December 5, 2003 13 7 3
CSU April 2, 2004 14 8 3
NOAA May 17, 2004 12–15 6–8 2–4
CSU May 28, 2004 14 8 3
CSU August 6, 2004 13 7 3
CSU September 3, 2004 16 8 5
CSU October 1, 2004 15 9 6
Actual activity 15 9 6

Forecasts of hurricane activity are issued before each hurricane season by noted hurricane expert Dr. William M. Gray and his associates at Colorado State University (CSU), and separately by forecasters with the U.S. Government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to CSU, the average season between 1950 and 2000 had 9.6 tropical storms, 5.9 hurricanes, and 2.3 major hurricanes (storms exceeding Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale). A normal season, as defined by NOAA, has 9 to 12 named storms, of which five to seven reach hurricane strength and one to three become major hurricanes.[2][3]

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.[4] Dr. Gray released a prediction on May 28 that was similar, with 14 named storms, 8 reaching hurricane strength, and 3 reaching Category 3 strength.[5]

Dr. Gray announced he had revised his predictions slightly downwards on August 6, citing mild El Niño conditions. His new forecast was 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 reaching Category 3.[6] Several days later, NOAA released an updated prediction as well, with a 90% probability of above-to-near normal activity, but the same number of storms forecast.[7] 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.[8] The season ended up with 16 tropical depressions, 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes, placing it above all forecasts.

Seasonal summary[edit]

Hurricane Ivan Subtropical Storm Nicole (2004) Tropical Storm Matthew (2004) Hurricane Karl (2004) Hurricane Jeanne Hurricane Gaston (2004) Hurricane Frances Tropical Storm Earl (2004) Hurricane Danielle (2004) Hurricane Charley Tropical Storm Bonnie (2004) Hurricane Alex (2004) Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Activity[edit]

Map of counties in the United States designated as disaster areas in the aftermath of a storm(s)

The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1, 2004. However, the first system, Hurricane Alex, did not develop until July 31. It was an above average season in which 16 tropical cyclones formed. All but one tropical depression attained tropical storm status, and nine of these became hurricanes. Six hurricanes further intensified into major hurricanes. Although an El Niño developed during the season, activity was above average due to abnormally warm sea surface temperatures. Five hurricanes and three tropical storms made landfall during the season and caused 3,248 deaths and over $50 billion in damage. Additionally, Hurricanes Alex and Tropical Storm Earl also caused losses and fatalities, though neither struck land. The last storm of the season, Tropical Storm Otto, dissipated on December 3, a few days after the official end of hurricane season on November 30.

Tropical cyclogenesis began at the end of July, with the development of Hurricane Alex on July 31. However, it did not become a named storm until the following day. August was an unusually active month, with eight named storms, including Alex. This broke the record for the most named storms in the month of August, which was later tied during the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. On average, there are only three tropical storms and 1-2 hurricanes in August. Of the eight systems that month, five became hurricanes and three strengthened further into major hurricanes. Although September is the climatological peak of the season, the month featured fewer tropical cyclones than August. A total of five tropical cyclones developed in September, including the most intense system of the season, Hurricane Ivan. Activity decreased further in October, with the formation of only two systems, Tropical Storm Matthew and Subtropical Storm Nicole. The season then went dormant for over a month and a half, until Tropical Storm Otto developed on November 29. Otto was the final tropical cyclone of the season and dissipated on December 3, a few days after the official end of hurricane season on November 30.

Impact[edit]

The 2004 season was very deadly, with about 3,352 fatalities overall. Nearly all of the deaths were reported in Haiti following the floods and mudslides caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne. The other tropical cyclones that caused fatalities include Hurricane Alex, Charley, Frances, Gaston, and Ivan, and Tropical Storms Bonnie and Earl. Because four out of the six major hurricanes made several landfalls, the season was also extremely damaging, with losses estimated at about $50 billion, over half of which was caused by Hurricanes Charley and Ivan. While damage estimates from Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne amounted to $9.6 billion [9] and $7 billion, respectively.[10] A few other tropical cyclones caused light to moderate damage, including Hurricanes Alex and Gaston and Tropical Storms Bonnie and Matthew. Despite the season being very costly, it is a distant second to the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, which resulted in $128 billion (2005 USD) in damages. In addition to the 16 tropical cyclones of the season, a tropical low in May brought torrential flooding to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, killing 2,000 people and causing extensive damage. Though it was not officially classified as a tropical storm, it did have a circulation with loosely organized convection, resembling a subtropical cyclone.[11]

Records and abnormalities[edit]

Hurricanes Frances (top left) and Ivan (bottom right) on September 5

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 the 1952 season. Florida was hit by four hurricanes: Hurricane Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. Dubbed the "Big 4 of '04", it was the first time four hurricanes have hit one state in one season since four hurricanes hit the Texas coast in the 1886 season, including the Indianola Hurricane of 1886 that destroyed the city of Indianola.[12][13] There were many other hurricanes in the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season that were individually unusual. Hurricane Alex was the strongest hurricane on record to intensify north of 38°N latitude.[14]

August 2004 was active, with eight named storms forming during the month. In an average year, only three or four storms would be named in August.[15] 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 in the 2002, 2007 and the 2010 seasons for the most Atlantic tropical storms to form in any month.

The most unusual storm of the season was Hurricane Ivan. Ivan first became the first major Atlantic hurricane (Category 3 or above) on record to form as low as 10°N latitude. Ivan was also recorded as the sixth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, but has since fallen to tenth. One very unusual occurrence in relation to Ivan happened on September 22, when a remnant low from Ivan—which had traveled 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 strengthened into a tropical storm with winds of 65 mph (100 km/h) before making landfall along the coast of Texas, causing minimal flooding and damage.[16]

Accumulated cyclone energy (ACE)[edit]

The season's activity was reflected with a high cumulative accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 227.[17] ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so storms that last a long time, as well as particularly strong hurricanes, have high ACEs. ACE is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 34 knots (39 mph, 63 km/h) or tropical storm strength. Although officially, subtropical cyclones, such as Nicole or the early portion of Otto's track, are excluded from the total,[18] the figure above includes periods when storms were in a subtropical phase.

Storms[edit]

Hurricane Alex[edit]

Category 3 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration July 31 – August 6
Peak intensity 120 mph (195 km/h) (1-min)  957 mbar (hPa)

In late July, a weak surface trough interacted with a tropical wave near the Bahamas. The system developed into Tropical Depression One late on July 31, while centered about 200 miles (320 km) east of Jacksonville, Florida. After initially being poorly organized, the depression strengthened and became Tropical Storm Alex late on August 1.[14] As a result of being the first named storm, it was fifth-latest start to a season in 50 years.[19] The storm moved northeastward and became a hurricane on August 3. As Alex moved out to sea, it intensified into a Category 3 hurricane and peaked with winds of 120 mph (195 km/h). Due to its location, Alex reached major hurricane status second farthest north in the Atlantic, after Hurricane Ella in 1973. After passing south of Newfoundland, Alex weakened due to cooler sea surface temperatures. Late on August 6, Alex was absorbed by a large extratropical cyclone.[14]

A rough seas and storm surge up to 6 feet (1.8 m) on the Outer Banks of North Carolina caused minor beach erosion and washed out portions of a highway in Cape Fear.[14] A man drowned near Nags Head due to these conditions. Strong winds also pelted the area, with maximum sustained winds reaching 88 mph (142 km/h) and gusts up to 115 mph (185 km/h) in Morehead City. As a result, 10,000 buildings and houses were left without electricity. In combination with strong winds and storm surge, more than 100 buildings and houses were damaged. Additionally, rainfall up to 7.55 inches (192 mm) on the Outer Banks flooded nearly 500 cars. Damage in North Carolina reached about $7.5 million. In Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, three people were injured by rip currents, while five others were hospitalized in New Jersey.

Tropical Storm Bonnie[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration August 3 – August 13
Peak intensity 65 mph (100 km/h) (1-min)  1001 mbar (hPa)

A tropical wave developed into Tropical Depression Two on August 3, while located about 315 miles (505 km) east of Barbados. The depression crossed the Lesser Antilles on August 4, before degenerating back into a tropical wave. The remnants traversed the Caribbean Sea, and re-developed into Tropical Depression Two on August 8. The depression strengthened further upon reaching the Gulf of Mexico and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Bonnie on August 9. A break in a mid-level ridge re-curved Bonnie northward on August 10 and then northeastward on August 11. Later that day, the storm peaked with winds of 65 mph (100 km/h), before wind shear began weakening it. At 1400 UTC on August 12, Bonnie made landfall near Apalachicola, Florida with winds of 45 mph (75 km/h). The storm rapidly weakened inland and degenerated as a remnant low offshore of New Jersey on August 14.[20]

In the Lesser Antilles, the storm brought light winds and mostly localized flooding to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia. The regenerated system brought light rainfall to the Yucatan Peninsula. In North Florida, scattered power outages were reported, and rainfall and storm surge flooded roads, especially in Taylor County. A tornado in Jacksonville damage several businesses and homes. Tornadoes were also reported in The Carolinas, and Virginia, with one in North Carolina destroying 17 homes, impacting 59 others, and causing 3 deaths and $1.27 million in damage. In Greenville County, South Carolina, a few roads were washed out, while portions of U.S. Route 501 were inundated with 1 foot (0.30 m) of water. Minor flooding also occurred in Mid-Atlantic and New England. In Atlantic Canada, basement and road flooding was reported, especially in Edmundston, New Brunswick. Slick roads caused 1 death in that area.

Hurricane Charley[edit]

Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration August 9 – August 14
Peak intensity 150 mph (240 km/h) (1-min)  941 mbar (hPa)

A westward-moving tropical wave developed into Tropical Depression Three on August 9 to the south-southeast of Barbados. Early on August 10, it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Charley, before reaching hurricane intensity south of Jamaica on August 11. Charley continued to strengthen after curving northwestward and was a 120 mph (195 km/h) Category 3 hurricane when it made landfall near Alquízar, Cuba on August 13. After emerging into the Straits of Florida, Charley weakened to a Category 2 hurricane. However, the storm abruptly strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane later on August 13, with winds peaking at 150 mph (240 km/h). At 1945 UTC on August 13, Charley made landfall at Cayo Costa, Florida, followed by another landfall in Punta Gorda about an hour later. Charley rapidly weakened over Florida, falling to Category 1 by early on August 14. Later that day, the storm emerged into the Atlantic, before making two more landfalls in Cape Romain and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as a minimal hurricane. Late on August 14, Charley weakened to a tropical storm over southeastern North Carolina, shortly before becoming extratropical near Virginia Beach, Virginia.[21]

The storm brought rainfall and strong winds to the island of Jamaica. In Westmoreland Parish, flooding inundated several homes and damaged roadways. Winds in the parish caused a large tree to fall on a house, resulting in significant damage to the home.[22] In Kingston, high winds damaged power lines and homes. Widespread power outages occurred due to numerous downed trees and power lines.[23] $4.1 million in damage and 1 fatality was reported in Jamaica. Winds up to 118 mph (190 km/h) in west-central Cuba left all of Pinar del Río Province and more than 50% of La Habana Province without electricity for several days. Additionally, at least 70,290 homes were either damaged or destroyed, as was 3,000 agricultural institutions, and 95% of the sugar cane, bean, and banana crops. Charley was responsible for 4 deaths and $923 million in losses in Cuba. Impact in Florida was extreme, with strong winds causing 2 million power outages and destroyed more than 2,149 structures and damage an additional 26,755; this does not include the other buildings damaged on Gasparilla Island, the 95% of structures in downtown Arcadia, the 80% of buildings in Charlotte County, or the extensive impact on schools in Charlotte, DeSoto, Orange, and Osceola Counties. In Florida alone, Charley caused 29 deaths, 792 injuries, and $15.1 billion in damage. A total of 2,231 houses were damaged, with 2317 of these were severely damaged and 40 were destroyed and 135,000 people were left without electricity in South Carolina. Winds up to 85 miles per hour (137 km/h) in North Carolina downed trees and power lines, and left 65,000 homes without power. Charley destroyed 40 houses and damaged 2,231 other homes in the state. The remnants of Charley produced light rainfall in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Hurricane Danielle[edit]

Category 2 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration August 13 – August 21
Peak intensity 110 mph (175 km/h) (1-min)  964 mbar (hPa)

A tropical wave entered the eastern Atlantic on August 12 and developed into Tropical Depression Four while south-southeast of Cape Verde on the following day.[24] Although sea surface temperatures (SST's) were only marginally warm,[25] the depression strengthened and became Tropical Storm Danielle early on August 14. Further intensification occurred as the storm began and by early on August 15, Danielle reached hurricane status. The storm deepened significantly over the next 24 hours and became a Category 2 hurricane. Later on August 16, Danielle peaked as strong Category 2 hurricane with winds of 110 mph (175 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 964 mbar (28.5 inHg).[24]

At the time of peak intensity on August 16, Danielle was heading northward to north-northwestward because of a subtropical ridge. Shortly thereafter, southwesterly vertical shear began increasing, causing the storm to weaken. Mid-level flow associated with a diffluent trough caused Danielle to move northeastward on August 18. Later that day Danielle deteriorated to a Category 1 hurricane, before being downgraded to a tropical storm. On August 19, Danielle became nearly stationary and moved erratically while southwest of the Azores. Eventually, the storm curved west-southwestward and weakened to a tropical depression on August 20. About 24 hours later, Danielle degenerated into a remnant low pressure area.[24]

Tropical Storm Earl[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration August 13 – August 15
Peak intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  1009 mbar (hPa)

A tropical wave exited the west coast of Africa on August 10. By August 13, it developed into Tropical Depression Five while located about 1,150 miles (1,850 km) east of the Lesser Antilles. The depression headed westward between 21 and 29 mph (34 and 47 km/h) due to a strong subtropical ridge located to its north. After developing banding features and an increase in Dvorak intensity estimates, the depression was upgraded to Tropical Storm Earl at 1800 UTC on August 14. The storm strengthened slightly further and on the following day, it reached maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 km/h). Later on August 15, Earl crossed the Windward Islands and passed just south of Grenada.[26]

Although Earl appeared well-organized, it unexpectedly degenerated into a tropical wave on August 16 after a reconnaissance aircraft reported no closed circulation. The remnants eventually reached the Pacific Ocean and developed into Hurricane Frank on August 23.[26] Tropical storm force winds and heavy rainfall in Grenada damaged at least 34 homes[27] and a nursing home[28] and toppled several trees and electrical poles.[27] Damage on other islands were confined to a few impacted homes, moderate crop losses, and widespread power outages, especially in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Tobago.[29] 1 fatality occurred and 19 were listed as missing.[30]

Hurricane Frances[edit]

Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration August 25 – September 8
Peak intensity 145 mph (230 km/h) (1-min)  935 mbar (hPa)

Frances began as Tropical Depression Six on August 24, and it became a named storm on August 25 while well east of the Windward Islands. Frances strengthened rapidly, reaching Category 4 intensity by August 27. 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. From September 2 through September 4, Frances slowly ground its way across the Bahamas. Its slow movement allowed a record 2.5 to 3 million Floridians to evacuate their homes. However, as it ground its way across the Bahamas, it weakened to a Category 2 hurricane due to wind shear, although it was still a very large storm.[9]

After sitting stationary off the coast of Florida for nearly 24 hours, Frances finally moved onto the coast of Florida in the early hours of September 5. It traveled northwest over land, briefly emerging over the Gulf of Mexico and striking the Florida Panhandle. As it passed over Georgia on September 6, it caused heavy rainfall across the southern United States. Over 15 inches (380 mm) of rain were recorded in some places in North Carolina and Virginia, causing heavy flooding. Frances was downgraded to a tropical depression and dissipated over Pennsylvania on September 9.[9]

Damage to the United States was approximately $9 billion (2004 USD, $11.2 billion 2014 USD), making it the tenth costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Most of Hurricane Frances's damage occurred in Florida as a result of the storm's slow movement, large size, and long duration of winds. The storm is directly responsible for seven deaths; one in the Bahamas and six in the United States. Hurricane Frances also produced 103 tornadoes as it moved its way through the United States.[9]

Hurricane Gaston[edit]

Category 1 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration August 27 – September 1
Peak intensity 75 mph (120 km/h) (1-min)  985 mbar (hPa)

A frontal low pressure area developed into Tropical Depression Seven at 1200 UTC on August 27, while located about 130 mi (210 km) east-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. The depression gradually strengthened and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Gaston early on August 28. Initially, Gaston tracked slowly, moving southeastward and then westward, before a developing mid- to upper-level ridge re-curved the storm northwestward. During this time, Gaston strengthened and became a hurricane at 1200 UTC on August 29. Two hours later, the storm made landfall near Awendaw, South Carolina with winds of 75 mph (120 km/h). Gaston weakened rapidly inland and was only a tropical depression by early on August 30. Gaston re-strengthened into a tropical storm while located over eastern Virginia on August 31, just hours before emerging into the Atlantic. Gaston re-intensified slightly further, but became extratropical near Sable Island on September 1.[31]

In South Carolina, an unofficial measurement indicated wind gusts up to 82 mph (132 km/h) in South Capers Island, which is near Parris Island. Strong winds destroyed 8 homes, damaged more than 3,000 buildings, and left more than 150,000 people without power. Additionally, flash flooding further inland severely damage or destroyed at least 20 homes in Berkeley County. In North Carolina, widespread street flooding occurred, including inundation on portions of Interstates 40 and 95. Several trees were downed by strong winds, especially in Chatham and Johnston Counties. A tornado in Hoke County damaged several homes. Severe flooding occurred in east-central Virginia due to rainfall amounts up to 12.6 inches (320 mm). In Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Hanover, Henrico, and Prince George Counties, 350 homes and 230 businesses were damaged or destroyed, and many roads were closed due to high water. In Richmond, more than 120 roads were closed, including a portion of Interstate 95, and 9 fatalities, all of them related to the flooding. The remnants of Gaston caused impact limited to light rainfall in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Sable Island.

Tropical Storm Hermine[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration August 27 – August 31
Peak intensity 60 mph (95 km/h) (1-min)  1002 mbar (hPa)

The frontal zone that spawned Hurricane Gaston developed an area of convection south of Bermuda on August 25. After detaching from the front and developing a circulation, the system became a tropical depression late on August 27. It initially remained weak while the convection fluctuated, until intensifying into Tropical Storm Hermine at 1200 UTC on August 29.[32] Later that day, wind shear exposed the circulation to the north of the convection,[33] though the storm was able to a peak as a 60 mph (95 km/h) tropical storm on August 30.[32] The storm turned northward under the steering currents of a subtropical ridge.[34] Increased wind shear from Gaston weakened Hermine, and later on August 30, the circulation was entirely exposed from the convection.[32][35]

Early on August 31, Hermine made landfall near New Bedford, Massachusetts as a minimal tropical storm. It rapidly weakened while moving northward, and after becoming extratropical, Hermine was absorbed by a frontal zone later that day. The storm brought tropical storm force winds and light rainfall to eastern Massachusetts, reaching about 0.5 inches (13 mm) in Cape Cod.[32] The remnants of Hermine tracked across New Brunswick and produced locally heavy rainfall, peaking at about 2.2 in (56 mm). In Moncton, New Brunswick, minor basement flooding and street closures were reported.[36] The storm also dropped slightly less than 2 inches (51 mm) of rain in parts of Newfoundland.[37]

Hurricane Ivan[edit]

Category 5 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration September 2 – September 24
Peak intensity 165 mph (270 km/h) (1-min)  910 mbar (hPa)

A westward-moving tropical wave developed into a tropical depression on September 2, before becoming Tropical Storm Ivan on the following day. After reaching hurricane intensity on September 5, the storm strengthened significantly, becoming a Category 4 hurricane on September 6. It subsequently weakened, though it reached major hurricane status again on next day. Late on September 7, Ivan passed close to Grenada while heading west-northwestward. Throughout the Lesser Antilles and in Venezuela, Ivan caused 44 deaths and slightly more than $1.15 billion in losses, with nearly all of the damage and fatalities in Grenada. While located near the Netherlands Antilles on September 9, Ivan briefly became a Category 5 hurricane. During the next five days, Ivan fluctuated between a Category 4 and 5 hurricane. While passing south of Hispaniola, the outerbands of Ivan caused 4 deaths in the Dominican Republic. Early on September 11, the storm passed just south of Jamaica. In that country, high winds and heavy rainfall left[38] $360 million in damage and killed 17 people.[39] After clearing Jamaica, Ivan closely passed near the Cayman Islands, bring strong winds that caused 2 deaths and $3.5 billion in losses. Ivan brushed western Cuba as a Category 5 hurricane on September 14, where a combination of rainfall, storm surge, and winds resulted in $1.2 billion in damage, but no fatalities.

Shortly after moving to the west of Cuba on September 14, Ivan entered the Gulf of Mexico. Over the next two days, the storm gradually weakened while tracking north-northwestward and northward. At 0650 UTC on September 16, Ivan made landfall near Pensacola,Florida with winds of 120 mph (195 km/h). It quickly weakened inland, falling to tropical storm status later that day and tropical depression strength by early on September 17. The storm curved northeastward and eventually reached the Delmarva Peninsula, where it became extratropical on September 18. The remnants of Ivan moved southward and then southwestward, crossing Florida on September 21 and re-entering the Gulf of Mexico later that day. Late on September 22, the remnants regenerated into Ivan in the central Gulf of Mexico as a tropical depression, shortly before re-strengthening into a tropical storm. After reaching winds of 65 mph (100 km/h), wind shear weakened Ivan back to a tropical depression on September 24. Shortly thereafter, Ivan made a final landfall near Holly Beach, Louisiana with winds of 35 mph (55 km/h) and subsequently dissipated hours later.[39] In the United States, Ivan produced a record tornado outbreak, with at least 119 twisters spawned collectively in 9 states.

Tropical Depression Ten[edit]

Tropical depression (SSHS)
Duration September 7 – September 9
Peak intensity 35 mph (55 km/h) (1-min)  1009 mbar (hPa)

A tropical wave emerged into the Atlantic from the west coast of Africa on August 29. Accompanied with a well-defined area of disturbed weather, the wave passed just north of Cape Verde on the following day. After moving westward for a few days, the wave became disorganized as it headed northwestward, northward and then northeastward. Despite displacement of deep convection due to southwesterly shear, a low-level circulation developed by September 7. Thus, it is estimated that Tropical Depression Ten developed at 1200 UTC, while located 725 miles (1,167 km) southwest of the western Azores. Continuous effects of wind shear caused the depression to strengthen only slightly.[40]

By September 9, the depression attained its peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 1,009 mbar (29.8 inHg).[40] Three hours after peak intensity, the National Hurricane Center initiated advisories on the depression. It was noted that the depression could briefly become a tropical storm if there were convective bursts.[41] However, later on September 9, wind shear left the depression completely devoid of deep convection.[42] As a result, it degenerated into a remnant low at 1200 UTC on September 9, while located west-southwest of the Azores.[40]

Hurricane Jeanne[edit]

Category 3 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration September 13 – September 28
Peak intensity 120 mph (195 km/h) (1-min)  950 mbar (hPa)

Jeanne formed as a tropical depression east-southeast of Guadeloupe on the evening of September 13. Having strengthened to a tropical storm, Jeanne crossed Puerto Rico on September 15. It then moved toward Hispaniola, barely reaching hurricane strength before making landfall on September 16. It tracked slowly across the northern coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, its heavy rains bringing mudslides and flooding. Jeanne's unusually slow journey was actually caused by a weakening Hurricane Ivan. Ivan broke up a trough that was fuelling Jeanne's steering currents. Interaction with Hispaniola caused it to degenerate into a tropical depression.[10]

After wreaking havoc on Hispaniola, Jeanne struggled to reorganize. However, it eventually began strengthening and headed north. After performing a complete loop over the open Atlantic, it headed westwards, strengthening into a Category 3 hurricane and passing over the islands of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama in the Bahamas on September 25. Jeanne made landfall later in the day near Stuart, Florida just 2 miles (3 kilometers) from where Frances had struck 3 weeks earlier. Building on the rainfall of Frances and Ivan, Jeanne brought near-record flood levels as far north as West Virginia and New Jersey before its remnants turned east into the open Atlantic.

Jeanne is blamed for at least 3,006 deaths in Haiti with about 2,800 in Gonaïves alone, which was nearly washed away by floods and mudslides. The storm also caused 7 deaths in Puerto Rico, 18 in the Dominican Republic and at least 4 in Florida, bringing the total number of deaths to at least 3,025. Final property damage in the United States was $6.8 billion, making this the 13th costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

Hurricane Karl[edit]

Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration September 16 – September 24
Peak intensity 145 mph (230 km/h) (1-min)  938 mbar (hPa)

A tropical wave emerged into the Atlantic from the west coast of Africa on September 13, and by September 16, it developed into Tropical Depression Twelve while located 390 miles (630 km) southwest of Cape Verde. The depression moved westward under a subtropical ridge and became Tropical Storm Karl later that day. On September 17, the storm curved northwestward and continued strengthening, reaching hurricane status early on September 18. Karl intensified significant while moving west to west-northwestward, and on September 19, it became the final major hurricane of the season. The storm briefly became a Category 4 hurricane on September 20, before weakening slightly and subsequently re-strengthening to that intensity.[43]

Early on September 21, Karl peaked with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 km/h) while moving northwestward again.[43] However, Karl weakened due to increasing wind shear,[44] while moving northeastward in response to a baroclinic trough.[43] After wind shear lessened,[45] the storm briefly became a major hurricane again on September 23.[43] However, wind shear returned later that day and SST's began cooling.[46] Another trough re-curved Karl northward on September 24 and the storm gradually weakened. Early on September 25, Karl became extratropical while located about 585 miles (941 km) east of Cape Race, Newfoundland. While a tropical cyclone, Karl did not impact land. However, the remnants of the storm produced sustained winds up to 89 mph (143 km/h) and gusts reaching 112 mph (180 km/h) on Mykines in the Faroe Islands.[47]

Hurricane Lisa[edit]

Category 1 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration September 19 – October 3
Peak intensity 75 mph (120 km/h) (1-min)  987 mbar (hPa)

On September 16, a tropical wave exited the west coast of Africa and entered the Atlantic. Three days later, the wave developed into Tropical Depression Thirteen while located about 520 miles (840 km) west-southwest of Cape Verde. Despite unfavorable conditions from being located near Hurricane Karl, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Lisa on September 20. After nearly reaching hurricane status, Lisa began executing a small cyclonic loop due to a Fujiwhara interaction with a tropical wave. Additionally, the interaction caused Lisa to weaken to a tropical depression on September 23. During the next several days, the storm fluctuated in intensity, from a tropical depression to a strong tropical storm. A deep mid- to upper-level trough caused Lisa to turn northward on September 25.[48]

By October 1, a short-wave trough re-curved and accelerated Lisa toward the northeast. The storm strengthened and was finally upgraded to a hurricane at 0600 UTC on October 2. At that time, Lisa attained its peak intensity with winds of 75 mph (120 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 987 mbar (29.1 inHg). However, after SST's dropped to around 73.4 °F (23.0 °C), Lisa weakened and was downgraded to a tropical storm later on October 2. The storm lost tropical characteristics and transitioned into an extratropical cyclone at 1200 UTC on October 3. Shortly thereafter, the remnants of Lisa were absorbed by a frontal zone while located about 1,150 miles (1,850 km) of Cape Race, Newfoundland.[48]

Tropical Storm Matthew[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration October 8 – October 10
Peak intensity 45 mph (75 km/h) (1-min)  997 mbar (hPa)

A tropical wave emerged into the Atlantic from the west coast of Africa on September 19. It eventually reached the Gulf of Mexico and developed into Tropical Depression Fourteen on October 8, while located about 205 miles (330 km) southeast of Brownsville, Texas. The depression strengthened and became Tropical Storm Matthew six hours later. The storm moved generally northeastward or northward throughout its duration. After briefly weakening, Matthew attained its peak intensity late on October 9, with winds reaching 45 mph (75 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 997 mbar (29.4 inHg). At 1100 UTC on October 10, Matthew made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana as a weak tropical storm. Only an hour later, Matthew weakened to a tropical depression and became extratropical early on October 11.[49]

The storm dropped heavy rainfall in Louisiana, with multiple areas receiving more than 15 inches (380 mm); the precipitation peak was 18 inches (460 mm) in Haynesville. Storm surge and heavy rainfall flooded 20 homes in Terrebonne Parish and several others in Lafourche Parish. Several roads briefly closed, including portions of Interstate 10 and U.S. Route 11. A tornado also damaged the roof of a trailer in Golden Meadow. Overall, losses in Louisiana reached $255,000. In Mississippi, wind and storm surge damage was minor, reaching only $50,000. Other than rainfall in several states, impact outside of Mississippi and Louisiana was negligible.

Subtropical Storm Nicole[edit]

Subtropical storm (SSHS)
Duration October 10 – October 11
Peak intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  986 mbar (hPa)

The interaction between an upper-level trough and a cold front developed a low pressure area on October 8 to the southwest of Bermuda. It developed a curved band of convection northwest of the center, and it organized into Subtropical Storm Nicole by October 10. An approaching mid-level trough turned the system northeastward, and early on October 11 it passed about 60 miles (95 km) northwest of Bermuda.[50] As it passed the island, Nicole and its precursor dropped 5.86 inches (148 mm) of rainfall,[51] and wind gusts reached 60 mph (97 km/h).[50] The winds left 1,800 homes and businesses without power, while the unsettled conditions caused airport delays.[52]

After passing Bermuda, Nicole developed an area of convection near the center,[50] suggesting the beginning of a transition to a tropical cyclone.[53] However, strong wind shear caused weakening after the storm reached peak winds of 50 mph (85 km/h). A larger extratropical storm absorbed Nicole on October 11 to the south of Nova Scotia.[50] The combination of the two storms produced flooding rains and gusty winds across Atlantic Canada.[54] Since 2002, subtropical storms have been assigned names from the same sequence as tropical storms. Nicole was the first named storm under this policy that never achieved tropical status.[55]

Tropical Storm Otto[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHS)
Duration November 29 – December 3
Peak intensity 50 mph (85 km/h) (1-min)  995 mbar (hPa)

The interaction of a cold front and a strong upper-level trough resulted in the development of an extratropical low pressure area about midway between the Azores and the Lesser Antilles on November 26. The low deepened and gradually lost frontal characteristics. By 1200 UTC on November 29, the system was classified as Subtropical Storm Otto while located about 1,150 miles (1,850 km) east-southeast of Bermuda. Initially, the storm northwestward due to a weakness in a subtropical ridge. Late on November 29, Otto attained its maximum sustained wind speed of 50 mph (85 km/h). Deep convection formed near the center and the storm began transitioning to a warm core system.[56]

It was re-classified as Tropical Storm Otto at 1200 UTC on November 30. Although SST's were relatively cold, Otto did not quickly weaken, because of low wind shear. On December 1, the storm curved southeastward and completed a cyclonic loop later that day. After wind shear began increasing, Otto started weakening and was downgraded to a tropical depression at 1200 UTC on December 2. At the time, Otto reached its minimum barometric pressure of 995 mbar (29.4 inHg), despite sustained winds of only 35 mph (55 km/h). Early on December 3, Otto degenerated into a remnant low pressure while located about 920 miles (1,480 km) southeast of Bermuda.[56]

Season effects[edit]

This is a table of the storms in 2004 and the affected regions, if any. Deaths in parentheses are additional and indirect (an example of an indirect death would be a traffic accident), but are still storm-related. Damage and deaths include totals while the storm was extratropical or a wave or low. In addition, the location of landfall, if any, will be in bold.

Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale
TD TS C1 C2 C3 C4 C5
Name Dates active Peak classification Peak 1-minute
sustained winds
Pressure Areas affected Damage
(USD)
Deaths Refs
Alex July 31 – August 6 Category 3 hurricane 120 mph (195 km/h) 957 hPa (28.26 inHg) North Carolina 7.5 million 1
Bonnie August 3 – 14 Tropical storm 65 mph (100 km/h) 1001 hPa (29.56 inHg) Southeastern United States 1.27 million 3
Charley August 9 – 15 Category 4 hurricane 145 mph (230 km/h) 941 hPa (27.29 inHg) Cuba, Southeastern United States 16.3 billion 35
Danielle August 13 – 21 Category 2 hurricane 110 (175) 964 hPa (28.47 inHg) None None None
Earl August 13 – 15 Tropical storm 50 (85) 1009 Windward Islands Minimal 1
Frances August 25 – September 8 Category 4 hurricane 145 mph (230 km/h) 935 Bahamas, Southeastern United States 9600 7 (42)
Gaston August 27 – September 1 Category 1 hurricane 75 mph (120 km/h) 986 hPa (29.12 inHg) South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia 130 8 (1)
Hermine August 27 – 31 Tropical storm 60 (95) 1002 hPa (29.59 inHg) Massachusetts Minimal None
Ivan September 2 – 24 Category 5 hurricane 165 (265) 910 hPa (26.87 inHg) Windward Islands, Jamaica, Cuba, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana 17200 92 (32)
Ten September 7 – 9 Tropical Depression 35 (55) 1009 hPa (29.80 inHg) None None None
Jeanne September 13 – 28 Category 3 hurricane 120 (195) 950 hPa (28.05 inHg) Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Bahamas, Florida 7000 3,035
Karl September 16 – 24 Category 4 hurricane 145 mph (230 km/h) 938 hPa (27.70 inHg) Faroe Islands None None
Lisa September 19 – October 3 Category 1 hurricane 75 mph (120 km/h) 987 hPa (29.15 inHg) None None None
Matthew October 8 – 10 Tropical Storm 45 mph (75 km/h) 997 hPa (29.44 inHg) Louisiana 30000 None
Nicole October 10 – 11 Subtropical Storm 50 mph (80 km/h) 986 hPa (29.12 inHg) Bermuda, Atlantic Canada Minimal None
Otto November 29 – December 5 Tropical storm 50 mph (80 km/h) 995 hPa (29.38 inHg) None None None
Season Aggregates
16 systems July 31 – December 5   165 mph (265 km/h) 910 hPa (26.87 inHg)   >50 billion 3161 (96)


United States[edit]

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

The country that suffered the worst damage during the season by far, was the United States, due to being impacted by 9 tropical cyclones. Hurricane Alex produced strong winds, moderately heavy rainfall, and storm surge in The Carolinas and portions of the Mid-Atlantic in early August. However, because it remained offshore, only $7.5 million in damage was reported. One fatality occurred when a man drowned near Nags Head, North Carolina. About a week later, Tropical Storm Bonnie made landfall near Apalachicola, Florida on August 12. Because winds and rainfall was light, most of the impact occurred due to tornadoes, especially in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. 3 deaths and $1.27 million in damage was the result of this storm. Only 22 hours after Bonnie made landfall, Hurricane Charley struck Dry Tortugas and then Cayo Costa State Park, Florida. Because Charley was a Category 4, it caused significant damage in Southwest and Central Florida. More than 29,000 buildings and houses were damaged to some degree and 2 million people were left without electricity in the state of Florida, alone. 29 deaths and about $13.5 billion in damage was reported. In South Carolina, 2,231 houses were impacted, 135,000 power outages occurred, while 1 death and losses reached $40 million. Winds and tornadoes in North Carolina left 65,000 customers without electricity and destroyed 40 houses and damaged 2,231 others. Damage within North Carolina was estimated to be $50 million. Effects were nil elsewhere in the United States from Charley, though one fatality occurred in Rhode Island due to drowning.

Later in August, Hurricane Gaston caused moderate damage in The Carolinas and Virginia due to strong winds and heavy precipitation. The storm caused 156,500 power outages, impacted more than 2,000 buildings, and left about $70 million in losses in both of The Carolinas combined. Extensive flooding occurred in some areas of eastern Virginia, particularly the Richmond area. 20 blocks of the city was inundated, 120 roads were closed, including a portion of Interstate 95, and 350 homes and 230 businesses were damaged or destroyed. Nine people were killed and damage in Virginia reached $60 million. On August 31, Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall in eastern Massachusetts. It brought light rainfall and tropical storm force winds, but no damage or fatalities were reported.

Tropical Storm Matthew in October produced inland and coastal flooding, especially in Louisiana and Mississippi. Several roads were flooded in both state and 2,500 people lost electricity in Louisiana. The storm left a mere $305,000 in damage.

Caribbean[edit]

In the Cayman Islands, Ivan produced sustained winds as high as 150 mph (240 km/h) and gusts up to 171 mph (275 km/h) on Grand Cayman. Storm surge of 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3.0 m) was reported, as well as precipitation amounts peaking at 12.14 inches (308 mm). There was extensive destruction to communication, electric infrastructure, housing, and agriculture in Cuba, due to strong winds, waves of 15 feet (4.6 m) in Cienfuegos, and rainfall up to 13.3 inches (340 mm) in Pinar del Río. Overall there was 2 deaths and $3.5 billion in losses.

In association with Hurricane Ivan, there was extensive destruction to communication, electric infrastructure, housing, and agriculture in Cuba, due to strong winds, waves of 15 feet (4.6 m) in Cienfuegos, and rainfall up to 13.3 inches (340 mm) in Pinar del Río. Losses in Cuba reached about $1.2 billion and there was no fatalities.

Canada[edit]

Several tropical cyclone and their remnants effected Canada, albeit minimally. The remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie dropped up to 3.5 inches (89 mm) of rain in New Brunswick caused widespread road closures, basement flooding, and 1 death by drowning. Minor flooding also occurred in buildings. Damage totaled about $2.38 million ($3 million 2004 CAD).[nb 1][58] The remnants of Hurricane Charley produced up to 2.2 inches (56 mm) and 1.1 inches (28 mm) of rain in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, respectively.[59] Hurricane Gaston was becoming extratropical while passed offshore of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Mostly light rainfall was report, peaking at about 2.1 inches (53 mm) on Sable Island.[60] At the end of August and the beginning of September, the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine caused minor street and basement flooding, especially in New Brunswick.[37]

Record-breaking rains fell as the remnants of Hurricane Frances crossed Atlantic Canada. Numerous roads were closed and several communities were flooded and thousands were left without power in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Damage was estimated to have reached about $44.9 million ($45 million CAD)[nb 1][61] A few areas of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Sable Island reported rainfall in association with the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne. Precipitation reached nearly 4 inches (100 mm) in Cape Race, Newfoundland.[62] Gusty winds from the remnants of Subtropical Storm Nicole left at least 11,300 people without electricity in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick alone. Significant rainfall was also produced in the region, peaking at about 5 inches (130 mm) in northeastern Nova Scotia.[63]

Elsewhere[edit]

In Bermuda, Subtropical Storm Nicole brought heavy rainfall, tropical storm force winds, and rough seas to the island. 1,800 people were left without electricity, a popular music festival was canceled, and several passengers on cruise became seasick. Other than that, no impact was report in Bermuda. The extratropical remnants of Hurricane Karl brought wind gusts up to 89 mph (144 km/h) to Norway.

Storm names[edit]

The following names were used for named storms that formed in the Atlantic basin in 2004. The names not retired from this list will be used again in the 2010 season. This is the same list used for the 1998 season except for Gaston and Matthew, which replaced Georges and Mitch. Storms were named Gaston, Matthew, and Otto for the first time in 2004. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray.

  • Otto
  • Paula (unused)
  • Richard (unused)
  • Shary (unused)
  • Tomas (unused)
  • Virginie (unused)
  • Walter (unused)

Retirement[edit]

The World Meteorological Organization retired four names in the spring of 2005: Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. They were replaced in 2010 by Colin, Fiona, Igor, and Julia. The 2004 season was tied with the 1955 season and 1995 season for the most storm names retired after a single season until the 2005 season, when five names were retired.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b The total was originally reported in Canadian dollars. Total converted via the Oanda Corporation website.[57]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]