Hurricane Dennis

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Hurricane Dennis
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hurricane Dennis 09 july 2005 1845Z.jpg
Hurricane Dennis intensifying over the Gulf of Mexico on July 9
Formed July 4, 2005
Dissipated July 18, 2005
(Remnant low after July 13)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 150 mph (240 km/h)
Lowest pressure 930 mbar (hPa); 27.46 inHg
Fatalities 76 direct, 12 indirect
Damage $3.71 billion (2005 USD)
Areas affected
Part of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Dennis was an early-forming major hurricane in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico during the very active 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Dennis was the fourth named storm, second hurricane, and first major hurricane of the season. In July, the hurricane set several records for early season hurricane activity becoming the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever to form before August; a title it held for only six days before being surpassed by Hurricane Emily.

Dennis hit Cuba twice as a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, and made landfall on the Florida Panhandle in the United States as a Category 3 storm less than a year after Hurricane Ivan did so. Dennis killed 88 people—76 directly and 13 indirectly—in the U.S. and Caribbean and caused $2.23 billion (2005 USD) in damages to the United States, as well as an approximately equal amount of damage in the Caribbean, primarily on Cuba.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

The incipient tropical wave that became Dennis was identified on June 26, 2005, well-inland over Africa;[1][2][3] it later emerged over the Atlantic Ocean on June 29 and moved briskly to the west.[1] Dry air initially inhibited development,[4][5] though once this abated the wave was able to consolidate into a tropical depression on July 4.[1] The depression soon crossed Grenada before entering the Caribbean Sea whereupon increasingly favorable environmental factors, such as low wind shear and high sea surface temperatures, fueled intensification.[6][7][8] Turning west-northwest, the system achieved tropical storm status on July 5 and hurricane status the following day.[1] Formation of a well-defined eye and central dense overcast signaled Dennis's intensification into a major hurricane on July 7.[1][9] Throughout this phase, the hurricane traversed the Jamaica Channel, bringing deadly floods to both Jamaica and Haiti.[1]

The powerful storm soon struck Granma Province, Cuba, as a Category 4 early on July 8; violent winds battered the province and caused extensive damage. Briefly weakening due to interaction with land, Dennis quickly regained its strength. Paralleling the western coast of Cuba, Dennis attained its peak winds of 150 mph (240 km/h) later that day before making a second landfall in the country, this time in Matanzas Province.[1] Resumed interaction with the mountains of Cuba caused significant weakening;[10] however, once Dennis emerged over the Gulf of Mexico on July 9, it was able to quickly reorganize. The hurricane reached Category 4 strength for a third time on July 10 as it approached Florida, attaining its lowest barometric pressure of 930 mbar (hPa; 27.46 inHg).[1] This ranked Dennis as the strongest pre-August hurricane in the Atlantic basin; however, this was eclipsed just six days later by Hurricane Emily which was the first July Category 5 on record.[11][12] Weakening ensued as the hurricane approached the Florida Panhandle, ultimately making landfall over Santa Rosa Island on July 10 as a Category 3. Dramatic weakening ensued once the cyclone moved ashore. Dennis lingered as a tropical depression and remnant low for roughly a week, traversing the Mississippi River Valley and Ohio River Valley before finally dissipating over Ontario on July 18.[1]



In Haiti officials evacuated residents along the coastline, but noted that many were not obliging.[13] In Cuba more than 600,000 residents were moved from their homes to government shelters or other locations in anticipation of Dennis.[14] All schools were closed, and most flights in the country were suspended or cancelled.[15]

The Cayman Islands chapter of the Red Cross opened shelters on July 7 and placed 120 volunteers on standby. Schools and government offices closed for the duration of Dennis's passage.[16]

United States[edit]

In the United States, the governors of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana all declared states of emergency in their states. At 6 am CDT (2300 UTC) on July 9, 2005, all southbound lanes on Interstate 65 from Mobile to Montgomery, Alabama, were closed. Traffic was redirected, making all four lanes northbound to allow evacuations.[17] In Alabama residents in all parts of Mobile County, and those south of I-10 in Baldwin County, were ordered to evacuate.[18] Similar orders were issued in Mississippi for parts of Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison counties; and for coastal areas in the Florida Panhandle stretching from Escambia County to Bay County.[18] Likewise, military installations such as NAS Pensacola, Whiting Field, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field and Tyndall AFB were all evacuated days before the storm. Additionally, Red Cross officials opened 87 shelters across the state which were able to hold about 14,000 evacuees.[17]

In Florida, about 50,000 tourists in the Keys were forced to evacuate by July 8.[19] The MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa evacuated its aircraft to McConnell Air Force Base near Wichita, Kansas.[20] 700,000 people in the Florida panhandle were evacuated in the days prior to Dennis, 100,000 of them in Escambia County alone.[21] As a result of the large evacuations, more than 200 truckloads provided about 1.8 million gallons of gasoline.[22] The Red Cross also moved 60 mobile canteens capable of serving 30,000 hot meals each a day to the staging points of Hattiesburg and Jackson. National guardsmen were mobilized, and four emergency medical teams, each capable of setting up a small field hospital, were on standby. Also, at Eglin Air Force Base, about 20,000 military personnel were evacuated, and at Hurlburt Field, home to Air Force's 16th Special Operations Wing, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for all 15,000 airmen and their families.[23]


Effects of Hurricane Dennis by country
Country Deaths Damage (USD) Ref.
Haiti 56 $50 million [24][25]
Jamaica 1 $31.7 million [1]
Cuba 16 $1.4 billion [1]
United States 15 $2.23 billion [1]
Total 88 $3.71 billion
Because of differing sources, totals may not match.


Heavy rain from the outer bands of Dennis produced widespread flooding and landslides in Haiti. The resulting torrents killed at least 56 people, injured 36 others, and left 24 more missing.[24] At least nine of the fatalities occurred when a bridge collapsed in Grand-Goâve.[26][27] Extensive property damage was incurred with 929 homes destroyed and another 3,058 damaged, leaving 1,500 families homeless.[24] Damage totaled US$50 million.[25]

Dennis also brought torrential rain to Jamaica, with accumulations peaking at 24.54 in (623 mm). One person was killed there and damage was estimated at US$31.7 million US$.[1]

From there the storm moved to Cuba, leaving 16 people dead and $1.4 billion in damages as it roared through the island, flattening houses and downing trees and power lines. Heavy rainfall fell across the country, with amounts reaching up to 1092 mm/42.99 inches, making Dennis the wettest storm for the island since Hurricane Flora of 1963.[28] According to reports from the Cuban government, 120,000 homes were damaged, 15,000 of which were destroyed. The citrus and vegetable industries were also devastated as Cuba's primary agricultural regions were the hardest hit. Nonetheless, Fidel Castro publicly refused US aid after the storm in protest of the ongoing US trade embargo against Cuba, stating that, "If they offered $1 billion we would say no."[29] Relayed reports from Cuban meteorologists stated that a gust up to 149 mph (239 km/h) was detected at Cienfuegos, 85% of the power lines were down, and extensive damage to the communications infrastructure had occurred. Dennis was more destructive than the previous year's Hurricane Charley and was widely regarded as the worst hurricane to strike Cuba since Hurricane Flora in the 1963 season.

United States[edit]

A beachfront home in Navarre Beach, Florida largely destroyed by Hurricane Dennis.

In the United States, damage was not as high as originally expected, mainly because Dennis was more compact and moved more quickly than initially forecast. Dennis made landfall approximately 30 miles (48 km) to the east of where Hurricane Ivan had made landfall 10 months before, but did not cause as much damage as Ivan, due to its quicker speed, compact size, and because the area was not fully rebuilt. Dennis moved about 7 mph (11 km/h) faster than Ivan at landfall, and had hurricane-force winds that only extended 40 miles (65 km) from its center, compared to Ivan's 105 miles (170 km/h).[14][30] During the height of the storm, Dennis produced storm surges as high as 9 ft (3 m) in the Apalachee Bay region, and as high as 7 ft (2 m) on the Florida Panhandle,[31] and left 680,000 customers without electricity in four southern states.

In southern Florida, damage was mostly limited to moderate wind gusts; in Miami-Dade County, gusty winds knocked out several traffic lights along U.S. 1, the only route to and from the Florida Keys.[32] A man died in Ft. Lauderdale when he stepped on a downed electrical wire and was electrocuted.[33] Damage was mostly minor and limited to outer rainbands and tornadoes in Central Florida. In the Tampa Bay area, several tornadoes were reported to have touched down causing minor damage such as downed trees and power lines.[34] The most severe damage occurred on the Florida Panhandle. At Navarre Beach, sustained winds of 98 miles per hour (158 km/h) were reported with a peak gust of 121 miles per hour (195 km/h), while a tower at the Pensacola Airport reported sustained winds of 82 miles per hour (132 km/h) and a peak gust of 96 miles per hour (154 km/h).[1] Milton received 7.08 inches (180 mm) of rain, the highest reported rainfall total in Florida caused by Dennis.[35] No significant damage was reported to most structures; however, insurers initially estimated that Dennis caused $3–$5 billion in insured damage,[36] or approximately $6–$10 billion total (insured damage estimates are generally held to be approximately one-half of total damages). However, the NHC's Tropical Cyclone Report reported total damage in the United States as only $2.23 billion with $1.115 billion of insured damage.[1]

In Alabama, sustained winds reached minimal hurricane force in the interior of the state.[37] In total, 280,000 people in Alabama experienced power outages during the storm.[38] No deaths occurred, although Dennis caused three injuries[39] and total damage amounted to $127 million (2005 USD),[39] mostly due to structural damage. There was also severe damage to cotton crops.[40] In Mississippi, damage was not as severe as previously anticipated.[41] As Dennis impacted the state, a storm tide of 2 ft (0.61 m)–4 ft (1.2 m) above normal was reported.[1] Rainfall from the hurricane averaged between 1–5 inches (25–125 mm),[42][43] and minimum barometric pressure of 994.2 mb was reported near Pascagoula.[1] Wind gusts peaked at 59 mph (95 km/h) causing several hundred trees to uproot or snap, damaging a total of 21 homes and businesses.[43]

Flooding caused by Dennis on Sweetwater Creek in Lithia Springs, Georgia

Dennis caused at least 10 tornadoes in the U.S., although only one of them reached F1 status on the Fujita scale.[1] The storm dropped over 10 inches (250 mm) of rain in some areas of Alabama and Georgia (see the rainfall graphic). Parts of Georgia, which had received heavy rain just days earlier from Hurricane Cindy, suffered heavy flooding, and flash-floods were reported on the outskirts of the Atlanta metropolitan area.[not in citation given][44]

In the United States, 15 storm-related deaths (14 in Florida) were reported, including one in Walton County,[45] three in Broward County,[1][46] three in Charlotte County, one each in Nassau and Escambia Counties[46] and one in Decatur, Georgia.[47] In the Gulf of Mexico, the storm caused Thunder Horse PDQ, a BP oil rig about 150 miles (240 km) southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana, to severely list.[48]


Because of the great amount of damage and deaths in the Caribbean and United States, the name Dennis was retired in the spring of 2006 and will never be used for an Atlantic hurricane again. It was replaced by Don, which was first used during the 2011 hurricane season. Dennis was one of five names to be retired in 2005—alongside Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma; this is the greatest such number since the implementation of retirement in 1955.[49][50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Jack L. Beven (September 9, 2014). Hurricane Dennis (PDF) (Report). Tropical Cyclone Report. Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ MT (June 28, 2005). Tropical Weather Discussion (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  3. ^ Patricia A. Wallace (June 28, 2005). Tropical Weather Discussion (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  4. ^ MT (July 2, 2005). Tropical Weather Discussion (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  5. ^ Jamie Rhome (July 2, 2005). Tropical Weather Discussion (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  6. ^ Lixion A. Avila (July 5, 2005). Tropical Depression Four Discussion Number 2 (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  7. ^ Stacy R. Stewart (July 6, 2005). Tropical Storm Dennis Discussion Number 5 (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  8. ^ Stacy R. Stewart (July 7, 2005). Hurricane Dennis Discussion Number 10 (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  9. ^ Richard J. Pasch (July 7, 2005). Hurricane Dennis Discussion Number 13 (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  10. ^ Lixion A. Avila (July 9, 2005). Hurricane Dennis Discussion Number 19 (Report). Miami, Florida: National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  11. ^ Jon Erdman (July 10, 2013). "Eight Years Ago: Major Hurricane Dennis Makes U.S. Landfall". Atlanta, Georgia: The Weather Channel. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  12. ^ James L. Franklin and Daniel P. Brown (March 10, 2006). Hurricane Emily (PDF) (Report). Tropical Cyclone Report. National Hurricane Center. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Hurricane Dennis kills 10 in Cuba". BBC. July 11, 2005. 
  14. ^ a b "Mop-up begins after Dennis sweeps Gulf Coast". MSNBC. July 11, 2005. 
  15. ^ Alex Morales and Jessica Brice (July 8, 2005). "Hurricane Dennis Forces Florida and Cuba Evacuations (Update1)". Bloomberg. Retrieved April 9, 2008. 
  16. ^ Allison Ali (July 8, 2005). "Jamaica, Haiti and Cayman Islands Red Cross braces for Hurricane Dennis". Caribbean Red Cross Societies. Trinidad: ReliefWeb. Retrieved November 24, 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Garry Mitchell (July 11, 2005). "Shelters on the Gulf Coast fill up as Dennis strengthens". USA Today. Retrieved April 1, 2008. 
  18. ^ a b Amy Sieckmann (2005). "Dangerous Dennis". Anniston Star. Retrieved April 1, 2008. 
  19. ^ ABBY GOODNOUGH (July 9, 2005). "Residents in Storm Path Face More Tough Choices". New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Developments Regarding Hurricane Dennis". NBC6. 2005. 
  21. ^ Alan Gomez (2005). "700,000 Panhandle residents flee this time". Palm Beach Post. Archived from the original on August 6, 2007. Retrieved March 14, 2008. 
  22. ^ Ken Kaye and Linda Kleindienst (2005). "Hurricane Dennis grazes South Florida, sets dangerous course for Gulf Coast". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved March 11, 2008. 
  23. ^ Associated Press (2005). "Florida Panhandle Military Evacuation". WTVY News. Retrieved March 19, 2008. 
  24. ^ a b c Caribbean: Hurricanes Dennis & Emily Appeal No. 05EA14 Operations Update No. 3 - Focus on Haiti and Jamaica (PDF) (Report). ReliefWeb. International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies. August 9, 2005. Retrieved November 21, 2015. 
  25. ^ a b "Disasters List". International Disaster Database. Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Tempête tropicale Dennis : au moins un mort, deux blessés et plusieurs personnes portées disparues en Haïti" (in French). ReliefWeb. Radio Kiskeya. July 7, 2005. Retrieved November 21, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Hurricane Dennis leaves 25 dead, 16 missing in Haiti". Havana, Cuba: ReliefWeb. Xinhua General News. July 11, 2005. Retrieved November 21, 2015. 
  28. ^ Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidráulicos (2003). "Lluvias intensas observadas y grandes inundaciones reportadas" (in Spanish). Retrieved February 10, 2007. 
  29. ^ "Castro: Cuban death toll from Hurricane Dennis raised to 16". USA Today. July 12, 2005. 
  30. ^ "Southern US mops up after Dennis". BBC. July 11, 2005. 
  31. ^ Federal Emergency Management Agency (July 7, 2006). "Monday Marks Hurricane Dennis Anniversary". Federal Emergency Management Agency. Retrieved July 8, 2006. 
  32. ^ Michael Wilson (July 10, 2005). "Hurricane Dennis Nears, on a Familiar Path". New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2008. 
  33. ^ Roger Roy, Wes Smith and Jason Garcia (2005). "Florida’s Gulf Coast finds damage from Hurricane Dennis less than anticipated". Retrieved March 11, 2008. 
  34. ^ Coralie Carlson. "Hurricane Dennis swipes Florida Keys, threatening Gulf states". SignOnSanSiego. Retrieved March 12, 2008. 
  35. ^ USGS (2005). "Hydrological impacts of Hurricane Dennis on Florida Panhandle". Retrieved March 11, 2008. 
  36. ^ Dr. William M. Gray. "Forecast of Atlantic Hurricane Activity for October 2005". Colorado State University. Retrieved December 10, 2005. 
  37. ^ Hurricane Research Division (2008). "Chronological List of All Hurricanes which Affected the Continental United States: 1851–2005". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved April 3, 2008. 
  38. ^ International Herald Tribune (2005). "Hurricane Dennis pounds Alabama-Florida coast". Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  39. ^ a b National Climatic Data Center (2005). "Search results for Hurricane Dennis event reports". Retrieved March 31, 2008. 
  40. ^ National Climatic Data Center (2005). "Event report for Hurricane Dennis (2)". Retrieved March 30, 2008. 
  41. ^ Jermaine Jackson (2005). "Oxford escapes major hurricane damage". Daily Mississippian. 
  42. ^ David Roth (2005). "Rainfall Summary for Hurricane Dennis". Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Retrieved April 6, 2008. 
  43. ^ a b National Climatic Data Center (2005). "Event report for Hurricane Dennis". Retrieved April 6, 2008. 
  44. ^ [not in citation given]National Weather Service, Southern Regional Headquarters. "The Menace of Dennis". NOAA. Archived from the original on August 31, 2006. Retrieved February 5, 2006. 
  45. ^ "Dennis speeds through Florida Panhandle". Ledger-Enquirer. July 10, 2005. 
  46. ^ a b "2 deaths apparently storm-related". Miami Herald. July 11, 2005. 
  47. ^ "Storm Topples Tree, Kills Father". WXIA-TV. July 12, 2005. 
  48. ^ "Big BP oil rig listing badly in U.S. Gulf". MarketWatch. July 11, 2005. 
  49. ^ "Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma "Retired" from List of Storm Names". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. April 6, 2006. Retrieved November 23, 2015. 
  50. ^ Dorst, Neal; Hurricane Research Division; Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (October 23, 2012). "They Called the Wind Mahina: The History of Naming Cyclones" (pptx). United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. p. Slides 62 – 72. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 

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