Hurricane History

Learn about tropical cyclones that have occurred in different areas throughout the North Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and East-Central North Pacific Basins.

Hurricane Floyd 1999
Hurricane Keith 2000
Tropical Storm Allison 2001
Hurricane Iris 2001
Hurricane Isabel 2003
Hurricane Charley 2004
Hurricane Frances 2004
Hurricane Ivan 2004
Hurricane Jeanne 2004

Hurricane Floyd 1999

Floyd was first detected as a tropical wave that moved off the African coast on September 2. The system developed into a tropical depression over the tropical Atlantic on September 7. Moving steadily west-northwestward, the system became a tropical storm the next day and a hurricane on the 10th. A northwestward turn late on the 10th was followed by a westward turn on the 12th, with the second turn marking the time Floyd started strengthening in earnest. It became a Category 4 hurricane on September 13 as it approached the central Bahama Islands. A west-northwestward turn late on the 13th took the center through the northeastern Bahamas. This was followed by a gradual turn to the north-northeast, which brought the center to the North Carolina coast near Cape Fear on September 16 as a Category 2 hurricane. Floyd continued north-northeastward along the coast of the Mid-Atlantic into New England, where the storm became extratropical on the 17th. The remnants of Floyd merged with a large non-tropical low on September 19.

While wind gusts of 120 mph and storm surges of 9 to 10 ft were reported from the North Carolina coast, Floyd will be most remembered in the United States for its rainfall. The combination of Floyd and a frontal system over the eastern United States produced widespread rainfalls in excess of 10 inches from North Carolina northeastward, with amounts as high as 19.06 inches in Wilmington, North Carolina, and 13.70 inches at Brewster, New York. These rains, aided by rains from Tropical Storm Dennis two weeks earlier, caused widespread severe flooding, which in turn caused the majority of the $3 to 6 billion in damage caused by Floyd. These floods also were responsible for 50 of the 56 deaths caused by Floyd in the United States. Floyd also caused damage in the Bahamas, with one death reported.

Hurricane Keith 2000

Keith began developing on September 28, when a tropical depression formed over the northwestern Caribbean Sea. The cyclone moved slowly northwestward on the 29th as it became a tropical storm, then it rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane on the 30th while drifting westward toward the coast of Belize. Keith stalled with the eyewall over the offshore islands of Belize on October 1, and it wasn't until the 3rd that the center made landfall in Belize. Keith weakened during this time and was a tropical storm at landfall. It moved west-northwestward over the Yucatan Peninsula and further weakened to a depression on the 4th.

Keith emerged in the Bay of Campeche late that day and quickly regained tropical storm strength. It again became a hurricane on the 5th before making landfall just north of Tampico, Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane. The cyclone dissipated over northeastern Mexico the next day.

Keith was responsible for 24 deaths — 12 in Nicaragua, 5 in Belize, 6 in Honduras, and 1 in Mexico. The deaths in Belize occurred when two catamarans broke loose during the storm, while five of the deaths in Honduras occurred when an airplane disappeared near Roatan Island. Damage to property, agriculture, and tourism in Belize was estimated at $225 million.

Tropical Storm Allison 2001

Allison's long and complex career began on June 5, as an area of disturbed weather over the northwestern Gulf of Mexico developed into a tropical storm. The storm made landfall near Freeport, Texas later that day. Allison weakened to a depression on the 6th, while drifting northward, then it made a slow loop over southeastern Texas from the 7th to the 9th. The cyclone moved into the Gulf of Mexico on the 10th and acquired subtropical characteristics. It then moved east-northeastward over southeastern Louisiana on the 11th, where it re-intensified into a subtropical storm. Allison weakened back to a subtropical depression on the 12th while continuing east-northeastward, and this motion carried it to southeastern North Carolina by the 14th, where it again stalled. The cyclone drifted northward to northeastward over land on the 15th and 16th. This was followed by a faster northeastward motion on the 17th as the center emerged into the Atlantic. Allison regained subtropical storm strength later that day before becoming extratropical on the 18th, southeast of Cape Cod. The system dissipated southeast of Nova Scotia the next day.

Allison brought tropical-storm-force winds and above normal tides to portions of the Texas and Louisiana coasts. However, the greatest legacy of the cyclone was the widespread heavy rains and resulting floods along the entire path of the cyclone. Houston, Texas, was the worst affected area, as the Port of Houston reported 36.99 inches and several other locations reported more than 30 inches. The storm also spawned 23 tornadoes. Allison was responsible for 41 deaths and at least $5 billion in damage in the United States, making it the deadliest and costliest U. S. tropical storm of record.

Hurricane Iris 2001

Iris first became a tropical depression just east of the lesser Antilles on October 4. The depression tracked west-northwestward into the eastern Caribbean, where it became a tropical storm on the 5th and a hurricane on the 6th. Iris then turned westward, passing just south of Jamaica on the 7th. The storm then moved quickly west-southwestward toward the coast of Belize as it became a small but powerful Category 4 hurricane on the 8th. Iris made landfall over southern Belize early on the 9th at Category 4 intensity, then quickly weakened after landfall to dissipation later that day.

The winds and storm surges of Iris caused severe damage over portions of the southern Belize coast. The storm was responsible for 31 deaths, including 20 in Belize, 8 in Guatemala, and 3 in the Dominican Republic. The deaths in Belize occurred when the M/V Wave Dancer capsized in port, killing 20 of the 28 people on board.

Hurricane Isabel 2003

A well-organized but slow moving tropical wave that exited the African coastline on September 1st developed into Tropical Storm Isabel on the morning of September 6th. Isabel became a hurricane on September 7th and rapidly intensified to Category 4 hurricane strength on the evening of the 8th, while the eye was located more than 1100 miles to the east of the Leeward Islands. This impressive hurricane reached Category 5 strength on September 11th, making Isabel the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin since Mitch in October 1998. The cyclone turned northwestward around the western periphery of the Atlantic ridge beginning on the 15th. Isabel began to weaken on the 15th as conditions aloft became more hostile, and it fell below major hurricane strength for the first time in eight days on the 16th.

Although weakening, Isabel's wind field continued to expand as hurricane warnings were issued for most of the North Carolina and Virginia coastline, including the Chesapeake Bay. Isabel's large eye pushed ashore just after the noon hour on September 18th, near Drum Inlet along North Carolina's Outer Banks. Isabel was the worst hurricane to affect the Chesapeake Bay region since 1933. Storm surge values of more than 8 feet flooded rivers that flowed into the Bay across Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Isabel brought tropical-storm-force gusts as far north as New York State as it moved inland. This most intense hurricane of the 2003 season directly resulted in 17 deaths and more than 3 billion dollars in damages. The large wind field toppled trees and cut power to more than four million customers.

Hurricane Charley 2004

Charley originated from a tropical wave, developing into a tropical depression on August 9 about 115 miles south-southeast of Barbados. The depression strengthened within a low-shear environment to a tropical storm early the next day in the eastern Caribbean, and became a hurricane on the 11th near Jamaica. Charley's center passed about 40 miles southwest of the southwest coast of Jamaica, and then passed about 15 miles northeast of Grand Cayman as the hurricane reached Category 2 strength on the 12th. Charley turned to the north-northwest and continued to strengthen, making landfall in western Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane with 120 m.p.h. maximum winds. Charley weakened just after its passage over western Cuba; its maximum winds decreased to about 110 m.p.h. by the time the center reached the Dry Tortugas around 8 am on the 13th.

Charley then came under the influence of an unseasonably strong mid-tropospheric trough that had dropped from the east-central United States into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The hurricane turned north-northeastward and accelerated toward the southwest coast of Florida as it began to intensify rapidly; dropsonde measurements indicate that Charley's central pressure fell from 964 mb to 941 mb in 4.5 hours. By 10 a.m., the maximum winds had increased to near 125 m.p.h., and three hours later had increased to 145 m.p.h. — Category 4 strength. Charley made landfall with maximum winds near 150 m.p.h. on the southwest coast of Florida just north of Captiva Island around 3:45 p.m. An hour later, Charley's eye passed over Punta Gorda. The hurricane then crossed central Florida, passing near Kissimmee and Orlando. Charley was still of hurricane intensity around midnight, when its center cleared the northeast coast of Florida near Daytona Beach. After moving into the Atlantic, Charley came ashore again near Cape Romain, South Carolina near midday on the 14th as a Category 1 hurricane. The center then moved just offshore before making a final landfall at North Myrtle Beach. Charley soon weakened to a tropical storm over southeastern North Carolina and became extratropical on the 15th as it moved back over water near Virginia Beach.

Although ferocious, Charley was a very small hurricane at its Florida landfall, with its maximum winds and storm surge located only about 6-7 miles from the center. This helped minimize the extent and amplitude of the storm surge, which likely did not exceed 7 feet. However, the hurricane's violent winds devastated Punta Gorda and neighboring Port Charlotte. Rainfall amounts were generally modest, less than 8 inches. Charley also produced 16 tornadoes in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. The total U. S. damage is estimated to be near $15 billion, making Charley the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Casualties were remarkably low, given the strength of the hurricane and the destruction that resulted. Charley was directly responsible for ten deaths in the United States. There were also four deaths in Cuba and one in Jamaica.

Hurricane Frances 2004

Frances developed from a tropical wave, becoming a tropical depression on August 25 several hundred miles west-southwest of the southern Cape Verde Islands, a tropical storm later that day, and a hurricane the following day. Frances moved generally west-northwestward for the next several days, passing north of the Leeward Islands on the 31st and just north of the Turks and Caicos Islands on the 2nd . During this time, Frances's peak winds reached 145 m.p.h. (Category 4) on two occasions while the hurricane underwent a series of concentric eyewall cycles. Westerly wind shear then caused Frances to weaken to a Category 2 hurricane by the time it passed over the northwestern Bahamas on the 4th. Frances made landfall near Stuart, Florida just after midnight on the 5th with 105 m.p.h. (Category 2) maximum winds. Frances gradually weakened as it moved slowly across the Florida Peninsula, and became a tropical storm just before emerging into the northeastern Gulf of Mexico early on September 6. Frances made a final landfall in the Florida Big Bend region that afternoon as a tropical storm. Frances weakened over the southeastern United States and became extratropical over West Virginia on the 9th.

Frances produced a storm surge of nearly 6 feet at its Florida east coast landfall, and caused widespread heavy rains and associated freshwater flooding over much of the eastern United States, with a maximum reported rainfall of 18.07 inches at Linville Falls, North Carolina. Frances was also associated with an outbreak of over 100 tornadoes throughout the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states. Eight deaths resulted from the forces of the storm — seven in the United States and one in the Bahamas. U.S. damage is estimated to be near $8.9 billion, over 90% of which occurred in Florida.

Hurricane Ivan 2004

Ivan developed from a large tropical wave that crossed the west coast of Africa on August 31, and spawned a tropical depression two days later. The depression reached storm strength on September 3rd (one of only a dozen on record to do so, south of 10EN) and continued to strengthen. By the 5th, Ivan had become a hurricane about 1150 miles east of the southern Windward Islands. Eighteen hours later, Ivan became the southernmost storm to reach major hurricane status, at 10.2EN. Ivan was a Category 3 hurricane when the center passed about 7 miles south of Grenada, a path that took the northern eyewall of Ivan directly over the island. In the Caribbean, Ivan became a Category 5 hurricane, with winds of 160 m.p.h., on the 9th when it was south of the Dominican Republic, and on two occasions the minimum pressure fell to 910 mb. The center of Ivan passed within about 20 miles of Jamaica on the 11th and a similar distance from Grand Cayman on the 12th, with Grand Cayman likely experiencing sustained winds of Category 4 strength. Ivan then turned to the northwest and passed through the Yucatan channel on the 14th, bringing hurricane conditions to extreme western Cuba. Ivan moved across the east-central Gulf of Mexico, making landfall as a major hurricane with sustained winds of near 120 m.p.h. on the 16th just west of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Ivan weakened as it moved inland, producing over 100 tornadoes and heavy rains across much of the southeastern United States, before merging with a frontal system over the Delmarva Peninsula on the 18th. While this would normally be the end of the story, the extratropical remnant low of Ivan split off from the frontal system and drifted southward in the western Atlantic for several days, crossed southern Florida, and re-entered the Gulf of Mexico on the 21st. The low re-acquired tropical characteristics, becoming a tropical storm for the second time on the 22nd in the central Gulf. Ivan weakened before it made its final landfall in southwestern Louisiana as a tropical depression on the 24th.

Ivan's storm surge completely over-washed the island of Grand Cayman, where an estimated 95% of the buildings were damaged or destroyed. Surge heights of 10-15 feet occurred along the Gulf coast during Ivan's first U.S. landfall. Peak rainfall amounts in the Caribbean and United States were generally 10-15 inches. The death toll from Ivan stands at 92 - 39 in Grenada, 25 in the United States, 17 in Jamaica, 4 in Dominican Republic, 3 in Venezuela, 2 in the Cayman Islands, and 1 each in Tobago and Barbados. U.S. damage is estimated to be near $14.2 billion, the third largest total on record.

Hurricane Jeanne 2004

Jeanne formed from a tropical wave, becoming a tropical depression on September 13 near the Leeward Islands, and strengthening to a tropical storm the next day. Moving west-northwestward, Jeanne struck Puerto Rico on the 15th with 70 m.p.h. winds and then strengthened to a hurricane just before making landfall in the Dominican Republic. Jeanne spent nearly 36 hours over the rough terrain of Hispaniola, generating torrential rainfall before emerging into the Atlantic north of the island. Steering currents in the western Atlantic were weak, and Jeanne moved slowly through and north of the southeastern Bahamas over the next five days while it gradually regained the strength it had lost over Hispaniola. By the 23rd, high pressure had built in over the northeastern United States and western Atlantic, causing Jeanne to turn westward. Jeanne strengthened and became a major hurricane on the 25th, while the center moved over Abaco and then Grand Bahama Island. Early on the 26th, the center of Jeanne's 60-mile-wide eye crossed the Florida coast near Stuart, at virtually the identical spot that Frances had come ashore three weeks earlier. Maximum winds at the time of landfall are estimated to have been near 120 m.p.h.

Jeanne weakened as it moved across central Florida, becoming a tropical storm during the afternoon of the 26th near Tampa, and then weakening to a depression a day later over central Georgia. The depression was still accompanied by heavy rain when it moved over the Carolinas, Virginia, and the Delmarva Peninsula on the 28th and 29th, before becoming extratropical.

Jeanne produced extreme rain accumulations in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, with nearly 24 inches reported in Vieques. Rains from the cyclone resulted in historic floods in Puerto Rico, and deadly flash-floods and mudslides in Haiti, where over 3000 people lost their lives and roughly 200,000 were left homeless. Three deaths occurred in Florida, and one each in Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Virginia. In the United States, damage is estimated to be near $6.9 billion.

Provided by The National Weather Service. The National Weather Service is a component of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is an Operating Unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

If you need to teach it, we have it covered.

Start your free trial to gain instant access to thousands of expertly curated worksheets, activities, and lessons created by educational publishers and teachers.

Start Your Free Trial

Follow us on:

Follow TeacherVision on Facebook
Follow TeacherVision on Google Plus

Highlights

December Calendar of Events
December is full of events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum! Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event. Happy holidays!

Bullying Prevention Resources
Bullying can cause both physical and emotional harm. Put a stop to classroom bullying, with our bullying prevention resources. Learn how to recognize several forms of bullying and teasing, and discover effective techniques for dealing with and preventing bullying in school.

Conflict Resolution
Teach your students to how resolve conflict amongst themselves without resorting to name-calling, fights, and tattling.

Immigration Resources
Studying immigration brings to light the many interesting and diverse cultures in the world.