Hurricane Hanna (2008)

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Hurricane Hanna
Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
Hanna 2008-09-01 over Bahamas.jpg
Hurricane Hanna at peak intensity over the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Formed August 28, 2008
Dissipated September 7, 2008
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:
85 mph (140 km/h)
Lowest pressure 977 mbar (hPa); 28.85 inHg
Fatalities ≥532 direct, 5 indirect
Damage $160 million (2008 USD)
Areas affected Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Hispaniola, East Coast of the USA, Atlantic Canada
Part of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Hanna was the deadliest storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.[1] The storm was the eighth tropical cyclone and fourth hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. It formed east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands on August 28. The cyclone struck Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, before moving up the Eastern Seaboard to become an extratropical cyclone as it moved by New England into Atlantic Canada early on September 7. The system raced across the North Atlantic, sweeping west of Great Britain on September 10 before turning north and becoming absorbed by a stronger extratropical cyclone between Iceland and Greenland late on September 12. At least 537 deaths were reported (the final death toll will likely never be known), mostly due to flooding in the northern part of Haiti, making it the deadliest tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin since Hurricane Stan in 2005. Hanna also caused $160 million in damages to the U.S, but the exact damage in Haiti is unknown. The next hurricane to impact the New York area was Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Meteorological history[edit]

Storm path
Rainfall from Hanna over Puerto Rico

During late August 2008, a tropical wave emerged off the coast of Africa and tracked westward across the Atlantic Ocean. After several days, an associated area of low pressure gained deep convection and organization. On August 28, while to the east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands, the low formed into Tropical Depression Eight.[2] Later that day, it attained tropical storm status, and as such was named Hanna by the National Hurricane Center. At the time, the low-level center of circulation was partially exposed on the western edge of the convection, indicating westerly wind shear.[3]

Hanna just north of the Lesser Antilles with its surface circulation displaced to the west of its convection.

Tracking westward primarily under the steering current of a large ridge to the north, the convective pattern began to redevelop late on August 28. Since forecast, models predicted the storm would weaken and move southwestward due to outflow associated with nearby Hurricane Gustav. Despite this, the storm began entering a favorable environment, and was forecast to intensify.[4] An upper-level low that had been producing wind shear moved away from the system, though light shear continued. At the same time, the low-level center once again became separated from the convection, which was primarily confined to a cyclonic banding feature in the eastern half of the circulation.[5] It remained weak as it moved erratically westward while east of the Bahamas on August 30. Due to the influence of Hurricane Gustav's large circulation, Hanna suddenly took a sharp southerly turn and slowed down to drift while located to the north of the Turks and Caicos Islands.[6] On September 1, as Hanna drifted to the south-southwest, convection increased and the storm began to intensify.[7] Later that day around 1:30 pm EDT, an Air Force Reconnaissance Aircraft found winds within Hanna supportive of hurricane strength, and the National Hurricane Center upgraded Hanna to a hurricane.[8] Early on September 2, strong wind shear in association with Hurricane Gustav began to affect Hanna and the storm was downgraded to a tropical storm on September 3.[9]

Early on September 6, 2008, Hanna made landfall near the South Carolina-North Carolina border.[10] The system became an extratropical cyclone as it moved into Atlantic Canada early on September 7 and raced across the North Atlantic, sweeping west of Great Britain on September 10 before turning north and becoming absorbed by a stronger extratropical cyclone between Iceland and Greenland late on September 12.[11]


In the Turks and Caicos, streets were cleared and schools and airports were closed ahead of Hanna's arrival. Transportation on and off the Island was stopped until the system lightens or passes.

NASA also announced that the movement of the Space Shuttle Atlantis to the launchpad for Flight STS-125 from the Kennedy Space Center would be pushed up a day due to the threat of Hanna.[12] Amtrak also canceled some train routes that run through the southeast United States.[13]

In Wilmington, North Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington canceled all classes and activities for Friday, September 5, and Saturday, September 6, in preparation for the storm, and issued an advised voluntary evacuation. UNCW officially closed at noon on Friday, and reopened at noon on Saturday, after the storm had passed. Specifically Wagoner Dining Hall, Randall Library, and the Student Recreation Center were reopened to students. Classes resumed regular schedules on Monday, September 8.

Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia canceled all class and activities on Friday and Saturday and issued a mandatory evacuation due to fears of a power outage. The College of William & Mary and Old Dominion University nearby had not made any similar plans. Old Dominion University and nearby neighboring school Norfolk State University did cancel classes for both Friday afternoon, and Saturday, due to the possibilities of heavy rain and wind.[14][15] Two other Hampton Roads schools, Regent University and Virginia Wesleyan College, did not close on Friday, but Regent closed completely on Saturday,[16] while Virginia Wesleyan canceled classes on Saturday but otherwise remained open.[17]

Hanna caused rainfall as far inland as Huntington, West Virginia
Hanna's effects in New York City

On Friday, September 5, NASCAR announced that they would postpone the NASCAR Nationwide Series Emerson Radio 250 (scheduled to be run that evening) and the next day's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevy Rock and Roll 400 until Sunday afternoon after Hanna had moved north of Virginia. Both races were held at the Richmond International Raceway in Henrico County, VA. With a delay in the storm during the day on September 6, the US Open tennis tournament went on, but was eventually cancelled as the rains came. Nearby at Shea Stadium, the baseball game between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies was cancelled in advance of the storm, rescheduled as a day-night doubleheader on September 7.

On Friday, September 5, rural water associations along the east coast and neighboring states prepared staff and equipment to respond to emergencies.[18] Associations activated their mutual aid networks, preparing for the landfall of Hanna and Hurricane Ike while still providing assistance to areas impacted by Hurricane Gustav. On September 5, 2008 the Emergency Measures Organization of the Canadian province of New Brunswick issued a warning to expect "significant rainfall" and "localized flooding" on September 7, 2008 and September 8, 2008.[19]

In Long Island, power companies were preparing for a minimal hurricane to be fully prepared for the first real test of New York's readiness for a strong storm impacting the region. In Nassau, phone calls were attempted to volunteer fire departments but at the same time, calls were being made to 193,000 residences about the West Nile Virus, slowing down phone connections. Over 800 workers were on standby in case anything were to happen due to the storm.[20]


Deaths by country
Haiti 529
Dominican Republic 1
United States 7
Total 537

Turks and Caicos Islands[edit]

On September 1, widespread rain and strong winds were reported in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands as a result of Hanna. No major damage or fatalities were reported in either area.[21] Hanna returned to the area and in the Turks and Caicos, floods hit low-lying neighborhoods throughout the archipelago. The popular tourist destination of Providenciales saw considerable flooding in neighborhoods such as Kew Town, Five Cays and the Blue Hills. Also a medical clinic on the Grand Turk island suffered roof damage.[22]


Haiti, already rain-saturated by Fay and Gustav, was hit hard by flooding and mudslides from several days of heavy rainfall, particularly in the city of Gonaïves which also suffered catastrophic damage in 2004 from Hurricane Jeanne. Nearly the entire city was flooded with water as high as 2 meters (6.6 feet) deep, and some people had to be rescued on their roofs.[23] In Les Cayes, a hospital had to be evacuated as it was swamped by flood water. At least 5,000 people there were moved to public shelters due to the flooding.[24] The United Nations have ordered relief convoys to the hard-hit region, including rafts to help rescue victims.[25] As of late on September 4, Haiti's government said the death toll from Tropical Storm Hanna had increased to at least 529, with most of the deaths coming in the flooded port city of Gonaïves, where the destruction was described as "catastrophic" and 495 bodies were discovered as of late on September 5.[26][27] Haitian authorities said the tally could grow once officials are able to make their way through Gonaïves. "The assessment is only partial, because it is impossible to enter the city for the moment", Gonaïves Mayor Stephen Moise said.[22] In the aftermath of Hanna at least 48,000 from the Gonaïves areas went to shelters. Some people slept on the roofs of their house to protect them from looters. The catastrophe has left many homeless begging for food and clothes. Others had left for the mountains hoping to wait out the next storms on the horizon.[28] People are starting to get frustrated with the assistance that has come. Very little aid has come from international organizations. Bridges north and south of Gonaïves collapsed and the roads are swampy lakes and it is extremely difficult to get to the city by road.[28]

Over a week after Hanna brushed the Dominican Republic, the body of a fisherman who drowned in the storm was found in the Atlantic just off the northern coast.[29]

United States[edit]

Minor street flooding in Westchester County, New York
Hurricane Hanna: Flood damage in Eno River State Park, North Carolina

While in the Atlantic near the Bahamas, high surf and rip currents were produced by Hanna off the Southeast US coast. A 14-year-old boy drowned at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park near Hollywood, Florida as a result of the rip currents brought up by the distant Hanna.[30] Two more deaths were reported off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida as they drowned in the high seas.[12] Because of the threat of a medium-term impact on the state and anticipated track of the storm, the governors of Florida,[25] Virginia, North Carolina,[31] and Maryland[32] declared a state of emergency for their states and commonwealth. Washington, D.C., along with numerous other state and municipalities activated their Emergency Operations Centers in preparation for the storm.[33][34][35] Hanna may have also spawned tornado(s) near Greenville, North Carolina and Allentown, Pennsylvania.[36] After landfall in the Carolinas, Hanna was at its strongest when its center was just south of New York City at 11 pm EDT on September 6, when 60 mph (95 km/h) winds were recorded at the center, however, because most winds past the center were more gusty than sustained, most damage in the area was related to the rain. A 38-year-old man drowned due to rip currents in New Jersey as Hanna approached.[37] Hanna knocked out power to about 32,000 people on Long Island as it quickly passed through on September 6.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ KMBC-TV Kansas City (2008). "Haiti's Hanna Death Toll Jumps; US On Alert.". KMBC-TV Kansas City. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  2. ^ Avila (2008). "Tropical Depression Eight Discussion Number 1". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  3. ^ Rhome (2008). "Tropical Storm Hanna Discussion Number 2". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  4. ^ Stewart & Beven (2008). "Tropical Storm Hanna Discussion Number 4". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  5. ^ Avila (2008). "Tropical Storm Hanna Discussion Number 5". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  6. ^ Stewart (2008). "Tropical Storm Hanna Discussion Number 17". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  7. ^ Rhome/Avila (2008). "Tropical Storm Hanna Discussion Number 18". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  8. ^ Rhome/Avila (2008). "Hurricane Hanna Discussion Number 19". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  9. ^ Rhome/Knabb (2008). "Tropical Storm Hanna Discussion Number 23". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  10. ^ Knabb. "Tropical Storm Hanna Public Advisory Number 37". National Hurricane Center. 
  11. ^ Ocean Prediction Center. Fourteen Day Unified Surface Analysis Loop. Retrieved on 2008-09-15.
  12. ^ a b "Hurricane Hanna Hits Bahamas, Threatens US". WCPO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  13. ^ "Region Prepares For Hanna's Rain". NBC4 (WRC-TV). 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  14. ^ "News at Old Dominion University". Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  15. ^ "Norfolk State University -". Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  16. ^ "Regent University closed for Tropical Storm Hanna" (Press release). Regent University. 2008-09-04. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  17. ^ "Sep 5, 2008: Saturday Classes Cancelled" (Press release). Virginia Wesleyan College. 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  18. ^ "More relief moves into Louisiana as other states brace for more storms". National Rural Water Association. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  19. ^ "Weather advisory issued (08/09/05)". Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  20. ^ a b,0,742443.story
  21. ^ "Hurricane Hanna batters Turks and Caicos". Bradenton Herald. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02. [dead link]
  22. ^ a b Trenton Daniel & Francis Robels (2008). "Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos deal with destruction and death from Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Gustav". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-04. [dead link]
  23. ^ Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2008-09-02). "Tropical storm Hanna kills 10 in Haiti". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  24. ^ "Hanna slams Haiti, leaves 25 dead". USA Today. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  25. ^ a b "Hanna kills 14 in islands, threatens US East Coast". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02. [dead link]
  26. ^ "Hurricane Ike targets Gulf, Hanna's toll rises". Reuters. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  27. ^ "Haiti Impact". Hurricane Hanna Info. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  28. ^ a b Charles, Jacqueline (2008). "Horrible scene in Haiti after Hanna". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-05. [dead link]
  29. ^ Jonathan Katz (2008-09-07). "Ike's floods kill 10 in Haiti". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  30. ^ "Body Of 14-Year-Old Caught In Rip Current Is Found". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  31. ^ "Easley declares state of emergency". WRAL. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  32. ^ "Anne Arundel Prepares for Hanna". Capital Gazette. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  33. ^ "District of Columbia is Ready for Hanna". D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  34. ^ "Situation Report No. 6". SC Emergency Management Division. 2008-09-06. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  35. ^ "Horry County EOC at OPCON 1 for Hanna". SCNOW. 2008-09-04. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  36. ^ Joanna Poncavage (September 8, 2008). "Possible Tornado damages Dieruff". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
  37. ^

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