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Subtropical Storm Nicole (2004)

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Subtropical Storm Nicole
Subtropical storm (SSHWS/NWS)
STS Nicole 10 oct 2004 1530Z.jpg
Satellite image of Subtropical Storm Nicole
Formed October 10, 2004
Dissipated October 11, 2004
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 50 mph (85 km/h)
Lowest pressure 986 mbar (hPa); 29.12 inHg
Fatalities None
Areas affected Bermuda, Atlantic Canada, New England
Part of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season

Subtropical Storm Nicole was the first subtropical storm to receive a name using the standard hurricane name list that did not become a tropical cyclone. The fourteenth tropical or subtropical storm of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season, Nicole developed on October 10 near Bermuda from the interaction of an upper level trough and a cold front. The storm turned to the northeast, and after attempting to transition into a tropical cyclone, it dissipated as it was absorbed into a larger extratropical storm.

Nicole dropped moderate amounts of rainfall in Bermuda, while rough seas caused problems for cruise lines. In Canada, the remnants of the storm combined with an extratropical storm produced strong winds and rainfall, damaging trees and power lines. The remnant storm also produced gusty winds across New England, while swells from the storm provided welcome surf conditions along the East Coast of the United States.

Meteorological history[edit]

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

An upper-level trough and a decaying cold front persisted across the western Atlantic Ocean in early October. The interaction between the two led to the formation of an area of low pressure on October 8 to the southwest of Bermuda. The system lacked a single well-defined circulation, though it possessed gale-force winds as it moved northwestward.[1] The system gradually became better organized,[2] and though there were no signs of tropical development on October 9, computer models suggested a subtropical storm could form.[3] On October 10, a well-defined low-level circulation developed as a band of clouds formed in the northern portion of the system. Shortly thereafter, curved bands developed in the northwestern portion of the center, while the strongest winds associated with the storm occurred more than 115 miles (185 km) from the center. Based on the broad wind field and the cloud signature, it is estimated the system organized into Subtropical Storm Nicole on October 10 while located about 140 miles (225 km) southwest of Bermuda.[1]

The first National Hurricane Center forecast on Nicole noted the development of convection over the western portion of the center, and that if the trend continued, transitioning into a tropical cyclone would be possible. The first discussion also predicted a peak intensity of 65 mph (105 km/h).[4] A mid-level trough turned the storm northeastward, and early on October 11 it passed about 60 miles (95 km) northwest of Bermuda.[1] Shortly after passing Bermuda, Nicole developed persistent deep convection near the center, while Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit overpasses indicated the potential of a warm core within the system.[5] Though Nicole attempted to acquire tropical characteristics, strong upper-level wind shear prevented the transition. As the storm accelerated northeastward under the influence of a large extratropical storm south of Nova Scotia, it briefly reached peak winds of 50 mph (85 km/h). Subtropical Storm Nicole lost its circulation as it was absorbed by the larger extratropical storm on October 11.[1]

Preparations, impact, and naming[edit]

Wettest tropical cyclones and their remnants in Bermuda
Highest-known totals
Precipitation Storm Location Ref.
Rank mm in
1 186.7 7.35 October 1939 Hurricane [6]
2 172.0 6.77 Nicole 2016 [7]
3 153.7 6.05 Arlene 1963 [8]
4 151.4 5.96 Cristobal 2002
5 148.0 5.83 Nicole 2004
6 134.1 5.28 T.D. #23A 1967 [8]
7 126.2 4.97 Franklin 2005
8 125.0 4.92 Emily 1981 [8]
9 124.0 4.88 Harvey 2005
10 123.2 4.85 September 1948 hurricane [6]

On October 9, one day prior to Nicole forming, the Bermuda Weather Service issued a gale warning for the island. The agency also issued a Tropical Storm Watch shortly after the storm developed. All warnings were canceled after the storm passed the island. Winds on Bermuda peaked at 44 mph (71 km/h) in association with Nicole, while gusts peaked at 60 mph (97 km/h) prior to the storm developing.[1] Nicole and the precursor extratropical storm dropped heavy precipitation, amounting to 5.86 inches (148 mm) over a three-day period at the Bermuda International Airport. Thunderstorms were also reported on the island.[9] Poor weather conditions from Nicole forced the cancellation of several events at the tourist-driven Bermuda Music Festival, including acts by Isaac Hayes, Gerald Albright, and Anita Baker. Strong winds knocked down power lines, leaving over 1,800 homes and businesses without power. Unsettled conditions also resulted in airport delays.[10] High winds delayed or altered the courses of four cruise ships.[11] High waves of 10 to 12-foot (3 to 3.6 m) in height left several cruise ship passengers seasick; one sick person was rushed to a local hospital on Bermuda.[12]

The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued seven bulletins on the storm, though the system only briefly entered the centre's response zone before it dissipated.[13] Due to moisture from Nicole combined with the extratropical storm, the Atlantic Storm Prediction Centre issued heavy rainfall and wind warnings for large portions of the Canadian Maritimes.[14] The remnants of Nicole, combined with a powerful extratropical storm, produced strong winds across the Maritimes, including over 80 mph (130 km/h) on western Cape Breton. The strong winds uprooted trees and downed power lines, while the winds combined with rough seas cancelled ferry crossings and restricted access to the Confederation Bridge. The storm complex also dropped over 2 inches (60 mm) of rainfall, causing flooding in eastern Nova Scotia. The storm's passage during the middle of apple harvest caused troubles for Annapolis Valley.[15]

Satellite image of Nicole near peak intensity

The remnants of Nicole, combined with the extratropical storm, produced strong winds in New England, with gusts of up to 65 mph (105 km/h). In Maine, the winds snapped branches off trees, and also downed trees and power lines. Power outages were reported, primarily in coastal portions of Washington and Hancock Counties.[16] Nicole produced moderate swells along the East Coast of the United States. Conditions for surfing were best in New York and Rhode Island, where swells of over 4 feet (1.2 m) occurred.[17]

Eleven ships reported tropical storm force winds in association with Subtropical Storm Nicole. The maximum recorded wind was 50 mph (80 km/h) while the storm was at peak intensity, while the minimum recorded pressure was 995 mbar as Nicole was being absorbed by the extratropical storm.[1]

Since 2002, subtropical storms have been assigned names from the same naming sequence as tropical storms. Nicole was the first named subtropical storm since the policy change to not achieve full tropical cyclone status. In 1972 and 1973, four subtropical storms were named using the Phonetic alphabet, while all other subtropical cyclones remained unnamed.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Pasch & Roberts (2004). "Subtropical Storm Nicole Tropical Cyclone Report" (PDF). National Hurricane Center. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ Avila (2004). "October 8, 2004 Tropical Weather Outlook". NHC. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  3. ^ Lawrence (2004). "October 9 Tropical Weather Outlook". NHC. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  4. ^ Lawrence (2004). "Subtropical Storm Nicole Discussion One". NHC. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  5. ^ Beven (2004). "Subtropical Storm Nicole Discussion Five". NHC. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  6. ^ a b Terry Tucker (1966). Beware the Hurricane! The Story of the Cyclonic Tropical Storms That Have Struck Bermuda and the Islanders' Folk-lore Regarding Them (1 ed.). The Hamilton Press. p. 206. 
  7. ^ "BWS Daily Climatology Written Summary". Bermuda Weather Service. October 26, 2016. Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c Roth, David M. (April 29, 2015). "Tropical Cyclone Point Maxima". Tropical Cyclone Rainfall Data. United States Weather Prediction Center. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 
  9. ^ Bermuda Weather Service (2004). "Weather Summary for October 2004". Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  10. ^ Sarah Titterton and Eloisa Mayers (2004-10-11). "Nicole drowns out the music". The Royal Gazette. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  11. ^ The Royal Gazette (2004-10-12). "Nicole thwarts cruise ship". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  12. ^ The Royal Gazette (2004-10-13). "Passengers roughed up". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  13. ^ Canadian Hurricane Centre (2004). "2004 Tropical Cyclone Season Summary". Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  14. ^ Bowyer (2004). "Subtropical Storm Nicole Information Statement". Canadian Hurricane Centre. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  15. ^ Ottawa Start (2004). "Top Ten Canadian weather stories for 2004". Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  16. ^ National Climatic Data Center (2004). "Event Report for Maine". Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  17. ^ Sean Collins (2004). "Wavetraks November 2004 Newsletter". Surfline Wavetraks. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 
  18. ^ Hurricane Research Division (2006). "Hurdat Data for Tropical Cyclones 1851-2005". NOAA. Archived from the original on July 5, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-11. 

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