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 3,264
Total damage $36.1 billion (2004 USD)
Atlantic hurricane seasons
2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Related article

The 2004 Atlantic hurricane season was the costliest Atlantic hurricane season, until the following year. More than half of the 16 tropical cyclones brushed or struck the United States. The 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 one death and $7.5 million (2004 USD) in damage. Several storms resulted in minor impact, including tropical storms Bonnie, Earl, Hermine, and 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 made landfall Florida as a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS), $15.1 billion in damage in the United States alone. Later in August, Hurricane Frances struck the Bahamas and Florida, leaving severe impact. The storm caused at least 49 deaths and $9.5 billion in damage. 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, especially Alabama and Florida. Throughout the countries impacted, Ivan left 123 fatalities and over $23.33 billion. The most significant tropical cyclone in terms of deaths was Hurricane Jeanne. In Haiti, torrential rainfall in the mountainous areas resulted in mudslides and severe flooding, causing at least 3,006 fatalities. Jeanne also struck Florida, inflicting extensive impact. Overall, the storm caused at least $8.1 billion in damage and 3,036 deaths.

Collectively, the storms of this season caused at least 3,264 deaths and about $36.1 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 six 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 seven;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 – while five were retired 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, which are Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.[2] A normal season, as defined by NOAA, has 12.1 named storms, of which 6.4 reach hurricane strength and 2.7 become major hurricanes.[3]

On May 17, prior to the start of the season, NOAA forecasters predicted a 50% probability of activity above the normal range, with twelve to fifteen tropical storms, six to eight of those becoming hurricanes, and two to four those hurricanes reaching major intensity.[4] Dr. Gray released a prediction on May 28 that was similar, with 14 named storms, eight reaching hurricane strength, and three becoming major hurricanes.[5] Dr. Gray announced he had revised his predictions slightly downwards on August 6, citing mild El Niño conditions. His new forecast was thirteen named storms, seven hurricanes, and three reaching major hurricane intensity.[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] The season ended up with sixteen tropical depressions, fifteen named storms, nine hurricanes, and six major hurricanes, placing it above all forecasts.[8]

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.[7] 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.[8] Although an El Niño developed during the season,[9] activity was above average due to abnormally warm sea surface temperatures.[8] Five hurricanes and three tropical storms made landfall during the season and caused 3,258 deaths and about $36.1 billion in damage. Additionally, Hurricanes Alex and Tropical Storm Earl also caused losses and fatalities, though neither struck land. The season officially ended on November 30, 2004.[7]

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.[8] This broke the record for the most named storms in the month of August set in 1933 and 1995.[10] Later, this new record was tied in 2012. On average, there are only three tropical storms and one to two hurricanes in August.[11] Of the eight systems that month, five became hurricanes and three strengthened further into major hurricanes. 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.[8]

Impact[edit]

The 2004 season was very deadly, with about 3,258 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 $36.1 billion, over half of which was caused by Hurricanes Charley and Ivan.[8][12] 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 next year, 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 the system was not officially classified as a tropical storm, it did have a circulation with loosely organized convection, resembling a subtropical cyclone.[13]

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.[14] Florida was severely impacted by four hurricanes during the season – 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 made landfall in Texas in 1886.[15] There were many other hurricanes in the season that were individually unusual. Hurricane Alex was the strongest hurricane on record to intensify north of 38°N latitude.[16]

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. The 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 on September 22. The system was given the name Ivan and eventually re-strengthened into a tropical storm.[17] Ivan was attributed to generating a 91-foot (28-meter) wave, possibly the largest ever recorded; this wave may have been as high as 131 ft (40 m).[18]

Accumulated cyclone energy (ACE)[edit]

The season's activity was reflected with a accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 227, one of the highest values on record in the Atlantic basin. 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. It is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 39 mph (63 km/h), which is tropical storm strength.[19]

Storms[edit]

Hurricane Alex[edit]

Main article: Hurricane Alex (2004)
Category 3 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration July 31 – August 6
Peak intensity 120 mph (195 km/h) (1-min)  957 mbar (hPa)

The interaction between a trough and tropical wave resulted in the development of a tropical depression on July 31, while centered about 200 mi (320 km) east of Jacksonville, Florida. After initially being poorly organized, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Alex late on August 1. The storm tracked 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. Eventually, Alex weakened due to cooler sea surface temperatures. The hurricane fell to tropical storm around 12:00 UTC on August 6. Six hours later, it became extratropical while located about 955 mi (1,540 km) east of Cape Race, Newfoundland, and was soon absorbed by a large extratropical cyclone.[16]

A rough seas and storm surge up to 6 ft (1.8 m) on the Outer Banks of North Carolina caused minor beach erosion and washed out portions of a highway in Cape Fear. A man drowned near Nags Head due to these conditions. Strong winds also pelted the area, with sustained winds reaching 77 mph (124 km/h) and gusts up to 105 mph (169 km/h) in Hatteras.[16] As a result, 10,000 buildings and houses were left without electricity.[20] In combination with strong winds and storm surge, more than 100 buildings and houses were damaged.[21] At Ocracoke, coastal flooding was considered the worst since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.[16] Additionally, rainfall up to 7.55 in (192 mm) on the Outer Banks flooded nearly 500 cars.[21] 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.[22]

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 14:00 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.[23]

In the Lesser Antilles, the storm brought light winds and mostly localized flooding to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.[24] The regenerated system brought light rainfall to the Yucatan Peninsula.[25] In North Florida, scattered power outages were reported, and rainfall and storm surge flooded roads, especially in Taylor County. A tornado in Jacksonville damaged several businesses and homes. Tornadoes were also reported in The Carolinas, and Virginia, with one in North Carolina destroying 17 homes and impacting 59 others. It also caused three deaths and $1.27 million in damage.[22] In Greenville County, South Carolina, a few roads were washed out, while portions of U.S. Route 501 were inundated with 1 ft (0.30 m) of water.[26] Minor flooding also occurred in Mid-Atlantic and New England.[22] In Atlantic Canada, basement and road flooding was reported, especially in Edmundston, New Brunswick. Slick roads caused one death in that area.[27]

Hurricane Charley[edit]

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

A 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 19:45 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.[28]

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.[29] In Kingston, high winds damaged power lines and homes. Widespread power outages occurred due to numerous downed trees and power lines.[30] The storm left $4.1 million in damage and one fatality in Jamaica.[31] Winds up to 118 mph (190 km/h) in Cuba left all of Pinar del Río Province and more than 50% of La Habana Province without electricity for several days.[31][32] Additionally, at least 70,290 homes were either damaged or destroyed and about 3,000 agricultural buildings. Roughly 95% of sugar cane, bean, and banana crops were ruined. There were four deaths and $923 million in damage.[32] Impact in Florida was extreme, with strong winds causing 2 million power outages and destroyed more than 2,439 structures and impacted over 26,749 others. Charley caused 24 deaths and 792 injuries. Agricultural losses were heavy, especially to oranges. Damage to agriculture totaled about $2.2 billion. In South Carolina, 2,231 houses were damaged, with 2,317 of those severely damaged and 40 were destroyed.[22] Approximately 141,00 people were left without electricity.[33] Winds up to 85 mph (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.[22] Throughout the United States, the storm caused $15.1 billion in damage,[12] with nearly of all of it in Florida.[22] The remnants of Charley produced light rainfall in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.[34]

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 developed into Tropical Depression Four while south-southeast of Cape Verde on August 31.[35] Although sea surface temperatures were only marginally warm,[36] the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Danielle early on August 14. Further intensification occurred 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).[35]

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 hurricane 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, hours 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. The remnant low moved westward and then to the north-northwest, before dissipating about 795 mi (1,280 km) west-southwest of the westernmost islands of the Azores.[35]

Tropical Storm Earl[edit]

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

By August 13, a tropical wave developed into Tropical Depression Five while located about 1,150 mi (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 18:00 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.[37]

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.[37] Tropical storm force winds and heavy rainfall in Grenada damaged at least 34 homes[38] and a nursing home[39] and toppled several trees and electrical poles.[38] 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.[40] One fatality occurred and 19 people were listed as missing.[41]

Hurricane Frances[edit]

Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)
Duration August 24 – September 8
Peak intensity 145 mph (230 km/h) (1-min)  935 mbar (hPa)
Main article: Hurricane Frances

Around 00:00 UTC on August 24, a tropical wave developed into Tropical Depression Six, while located about 755 mi (1,215 km) west-southwest of the southernmost islands of Cape Verde. Moving west-northwestward, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Frances later that day. Frances reached hurricane status late on August 25 while curving northwestward. By August 28, the storm reached a primary peak intensity as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph (215 km/h). Late the following day, Frances weakened to a Category 3 hurricane during an eyewall replacement cycle. However, by August 31, the storm re-intensified into a Category 4 hurricane and attained its maximum sustained wind speed of 145 mph (230 km/h). While approaching the Bahamas, wind shear and increasing westerly winds aloft caused Frances to weakened to a Category 3 hurricane late on September 2.[42]

At 19:30 UTC on September 2, the system made landfall on San Salvador Island with winds of 125 mph (205 km/h). Early the next day, Frances struck Cat Island while somewhat weaker. The system decelerated and weakened slightly to a Category 2 hurricane before landfall in Eleuthera hours later. By September 4, Frances made another landfall on Grand Bahama with winds of 105 mph (165 km/h). Moving slowly west-northwestward, the hurricane made landfall in Hutchinson Island, Florida at the same intensity, early on September 5. Rapidly weakening, Frances fell to Category 1 intensity around midday and deteriorated to a tropical storm about six hours later. On September 6, the storm emerged into the Gulf of Mexico near New Port Richey, before another landfall at the mouth of the Aucilla River with winds of 60 mph (95 km/h). Early on September 7, Frances weakened to a tropical repression over Georgia. By late the next day, the system became extratropical, though the remnants persisted until dissipation over the Gulf of Saint Lawrence on September 11.[42]

In the Bahamas, about 75% of residents lost electricity. Between 13 and 17 percent of the non-native Australian pine on San Salvador Island experienced damage, primarily from snapping, though some browning from salt spray was noted.[43] Several feet of water flooded the international airport at Freeport.[44] Insured losses reached about $300 million.[45] Severe damage was also dealt to banana, corn, and pineapple crops. About 4,160 homes received minor damage, while 2,522 houses were rendered uninhabitable or destroyed.[46] About 700 people were left homeless. Additionally, sea walls, schools, bridges, roads, and docks suffered damage.[47] Strong winds brought severe damage to Florida, especially counties along the east coast. Indian River, Martin, and St. Lucie counties were hardest hit. There, hundreds of homes, mobile homes, and businesses were destroyed, while thousands of others were inflicted damage. In the tri-county area alone, damage totaled approximately $4.5 billion.[48] Palm Beach County also suffered particularly severely, with 15,000 houses and 2,400 businesses damaged there.[49] About 4.27 million customers were left without electricity in Florida.[50] Frances and its remnants brought extensive flooding to other states, especially in Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.[48] The storm spawned 101 tornadoes in the United States, with 45 in South Carolina alone.[42] Damage in the United States totaled approximately $9.5 billion, placing Frances among the costliest hurricanes in the country.[12] Overall, the storm caused 49 deaths, two each in the Bahamas and Ohio, eight in Georgia, and thirty-seven in Florida.[42]

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 12:00 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. Gaston strengthened and became a hurricane at 120:0 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.[51]

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.[51] Strong winds destroyed eight homes, damaged more than 3,000 buildings, and left more than 150,000 people without power.[48] Additionally, flash flooding further inland severely damage or destroyed at least 20 homes in Berkeley County.[51] 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.[22] Severe flooding occurred in east-central Virginia due to rainfall amounts up to 12.6 in (320 mm).[52] In Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Hanover, Henrico, and Prince George counties, 350 homes and 230 businesses were damaged or destroyed,[51] and many roads were closed due to high water. In Richmond, more than 120 roads were closed, including a portion of Interstate 95.[53] There were nine fatalities. Throughout the United States, Gaston caused about $130 million in damage.[51] The remnants produced light rainfall in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Sable Island.[54]

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 at 18:00 UTC on August 27. It initially remained weak while the convection fluctuated, until intensifying into Tropical Storm Hermine at 12:00 UTC on August 29.[55] Later that day, wind shear exposed the circulation to the north of the convection,[56] though the storm was able to a peak as a 60 mph (95 km/h) tropical storm on August 30.[55] The storm turned northward under the steering currents of a subtropical ridge.[57] Increased wind shear from Gaston weakened Hermine. By late on August 30, the circulation was entirely exposed from the convection.[55][58]

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 in (13 mm) in Cape Cod.[55] The remnants of Hermine tracked across New Brunswick and produced locally heavy rainfall, peaking at about 2.36 in (60 mm). In Moncton, minor basement flooding and street closures were reported.[59]

Hurricane Ivan[edit]

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

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. 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. The storm passed south of Jamaica on September 11 and then the Cayman Islands on the next day. While curving northwestward, Ivan brushed western Cuba as a Category 5 hurricane on September 14.[60]

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.[60]

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 passing south of Hispaniola, the outer bands of Ivan caused four deaths in the Dominican Republic. In Jamaica, high winds and heavy rainfall left $360 million in damage and killed 17 people.[60] The storm brought strong winds to the Cayman Islands, resulting in two deaths and $3.5 billion in damage. In Cuba, a combination of rainfall, storm surge, and winds resulted in $1.2 billion in damage, but no fatalities. Heavy damage was reported along the Gulf Coast of the United States. Along the waterfront of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida, nearly every structure was impacted.[48] In the former, 10,000 roofs were damaged or destroyed. About 4,600 homes were demolished in the county.[61] Similar impact occurred in Alabama. Property damage was major along Perdido Bay, Big Lagoon, Bayou Grande, Pensacola Bay and Escambia Bay. A number of homes were completely washed away by the high surge. Further inland, thousands of other houses were damaged or destroyed in many counties.[48] Ivan produced a record tornado outbreak, with at least 119 twisters spawned collectively in nine 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 accompanied with a well-organized area of convection emerged off the western coast of Africa on August 29. Performing a slow curve over the eastern Atlantic, the wave became increasingly less-defined over subsequent days as a result of strong southwesterly wind shear. Following the development of shower and thunderstorm activity near the center, the system acquired enough organization to be deemed a tropical depression at 12:00 UTC on September 7, while positioned about 725 mi (1,165 km) southwest of the southernmost Azores. Credited to a continued hostile environment, the depression did not intensify into a tropical storm and instead degenerated into a remnant low by 1200 UTC on September 9 after the center decoupled from the remainder of the convective activity. The low-level circulation persisted near the Azores until dissipating the following day.[62]

Hurricane Jeanne[edit]

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

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 weakening Hurricane Ivan(see above). Ivan broke up a trough that was fuelling Jeanne's steering currents. Interaction with Hispaniola caused it to degenerate into a tropical depression.[63]

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)
Main article: Hurricane Karl (2004)

A tropical wave developed into Tropical Depression Twelve early on September 16, while located 390 mi (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 became a major hurricane by early the next day. The storm briefly deepened to a Category 4 hurricane on September 20, before weakening slightly and subsequently re-strengthening to that intensity. Early on September 21, Karl peaked with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 km/h) while moving northwestward again.[64]

After peak intensity on September 21, Karl weakened due to increasing wind shear,[65] while moving northeastward in response to a baroclinic trough.[64] After wind shear lessened,[66] the storm briefly became a major hurricane again on September 23.[64] However, wind shear returned later that day and ocean temperatures began cooling.[67] Another trough re-curved Karl northward on September 24 as the storm was gradually weakening. Early on September 25, Karl became extratropical while located about 585 mi (940 km) east of Cape Race, Newfoundland. The remnants of Karl accelerated northeastward and then east-northeastward. Sustained winds up to 89 mph (143 km/h) and gusts reaching 112 mph (180 km/h) were observed on Mykines in the Faroe Islands.[68] The extratropical remnants of Karl dissipated over Norway on September 28.[64]

Hurricane Lisa[edit]

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

At 18:00 UTC on September 19, a tropical wave developed into Tropical Depression Thirteen, which was centered located about 520 mi (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.[69]

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 06:00 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 sea surface temperatures 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 12:00 UTC on October 3. Shortly thereafter, the remnants of Lisa were absorbed by a frontal zone while located about 1,150 mi (1,850 km) of Cape Race, Newfoundland.[69]

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 developed into Tropical Depression Fourteen on October 8, while located about 205 mi (330 km) southeast of Brownsville, Texas. The depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Matthew about 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 maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 997 mbar (29.4 inHg). At 11:00 UTC on October 10, Matthew made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana with winds of 40 mph (65 km/h). Only an hour later, Matthew weakened to a tropical depression and became extratropical early on October 11.[70]

The storm dropped heavy rainfall in southeastern Louisiana, with a peak total of 18 in (460 mm) near Haynesville.[52] Along the coast, storm surge up to 5.85 ft (1.78 m) was observed at Frenier.[70] A combination of storm surge and heavy rainfall inundated numerous roads in Lafourche, Orleans, St. Bernard, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, and Terrebonne parishes. About 20 homes in Terrebonne Parish were damaged, while several others were flooded in Lafourche Parish. A tornado also damaged the roof of a trailer in Golden Meadow.[71] Winds left resulted in electrical outages for approximately 2,500 customers. The storm cracked water line in LaPlace, leaving nearly 30,000 residents without tap water.[72] Overall, losses in Louisiana reached $255,000. In Mississippi, storm surge caused coastal flooding in Hancock County. Damage in the state totaled only $50,000.[71]

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. Early on October 11, Nicole passed about 60 mi (95 km) northwest of Bermuda.[73] On the island, Nicole and its precursor dropped 5.86 in (148 mm) of rainfall and produced wind gusts reaching 60 mph (97 km/h).[73][74] The winds left 1,800 homes and businesses without power, while the unsettled conditions caused delays at the L.F. Wade International Airport.[75]

After passing Bermuda, Nicole developed an area of convection near the center,[73] suggesting the beginning of a transition to a tropical cyclone.[76] 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, while the storm was located south of Nova Scotia.[73] In Maine, gusty winds from the remnants of Nicole downed trees and electrical lines, resulting some power outages, especially along or near the coast.[71] Similarly, 11,300 people were left without electricity in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick alone after winds uprooted trees and toppled power lines. Significant rainfall was also produced in the region, peaking at about 5 in (130 mm) in northeastern Nova Scotia.[77]

Tropical Storm Otto[edit]

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

A cold front and a strong upper-level trough interacted, resulting in the development of an extratropical low pressure area on November 26. After losing frontal characteristics, the system transitioned into Subtropical Storm Otto at 12:00 UTC on November 29, while located about 1,150 mi (1,850 km) east-southeast of Bermuda. Initially, the storm moved 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.[78]

The system was re-classified as Tropical Storm Otto at 12:00 UTC on November 30. Although sea temperatures 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 12:00 UTC on December 2. At that, Otto reached its minimum barometric pressure of 995 mbar (29.4 inHg). Early on December 3, the storm degenerated into a remnant low pressure while located about 920 mi (1,480 km) southeast of Bermuda.[78]

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 Sustained
wind speeds
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 9.6 billion 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 million 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 17.2 billion 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 7 billion 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)


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]

References[edit]

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