The 2004 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1, 2004, and lasted until November 30, 2004. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. However, the 2004 season exceeded these conventional limits slightly, as Tropical Storm Otto formed on the day before the last day of the season and lasted three days into December. The season was well above average in activity, although a weak El Niño with fifteen named storms and one of the highest Accumulated Cyclone Energy totals ever observed.
The season was notable as one of the deadliest and most costly
Atlantic hurricane seasons on record in the last decade, with at
least 3,132 deaths and roughly $50 billion (2004 US dollars
) in damage. The most notable
storms for the season were the five named storms that made landfall
in the U.S. state of Florida, three of
them with at least 115 mph (185 km/h) sustained winds:
Tropical Storm Bonnie,
Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.
This is the only time in
recorded history that four hurricanes affected Florida.
Jeanne wreaked havoc in Haiti, killing
more than 3,000 people, and was the deadliest tropical cyclone
since Mitch in 1998.
through Grenada, Jamaica, and the
Islands, while Frances and Jeanne both hit the Bahamas at full
force. Charley, a small hurricane, caused
significant damage in Cuba.
Floodwaters in the southeastern United States
brought to near-record levels.
Predictions of tropical activity in the 2004
||May 17, 2004
||May 28, 2004
||August 6, 2004
On May 17, prior to the start of the season, NOAA
forecasters predicted a 50% probability of activity above the
normal range, with 12–15 tropical storms, 6–8 of those becoming
hurricanes, and 2–4 of those hurricanes reaching at least
Category 3 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane
. Noted hurricane expert Dr. William Gray
's May 28 prediction was similar,
with 14 named storms, 8 reaching hurricane strength, and 3 reaching
Category 3 strength.
On August 6, Dr. Gray announced he had revised his predictions
slightly downwards, citing mild El Niño
conditions, to 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 reaching
Category 3. 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. A normal season,
as defined by NOAA, has 6 to 14 tropical storms, 4 to 8 of which
reach hurricane strength, and 1 to 3 of those reaching
Category 3 strength. The season ended up with 16 tropical
depressions, 15 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and six major
hurricanes, placing it above all forecasts.
Hurricane Ivan sank and stacked
numerous boats at Bayou Grande Marina at Naval Air Station
This season had 16 tropical depressions, 15 named storms, 9
hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher on
). The Accumulated Cyclone Energy
of 225 ranks this as the fourth most active season since 1950
(behind the 2005
, the 1950
and the 1995
August 2004 was incredibly active, although a weak El Niño
with eight named storms forming during
the month. In an average year, only three or four storms would be
named in August. The formation of eight named storms in August
breaks the old record of seven for the month, set in the 1933
and 1995 season
. It also ties
with September in the 2002
and the 2007
seasons for the most
Atlantic tropical storms to form in any month.
Deaths and damage
The 2004 season was very deadly, with over 3,000 deaths related to
the flooding rains or winds caused by the storms. Nearly all of the
deaths were reported in Haiti following the floods and mudslides
caused by then-Tropical Storm Jeanne.
low in May brought torrential flooding to Haiti and the
Republic, killing 2,000 people and causing great
Though it was not officially classified as a
tropical storm, it did have a circulation with loosely organized
convection, resembling a subtropical
Records and notable events
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
. Tropical Storm Bonnie and
Hurricane Charley became the first
storms to sequentially hit the same U.S.
24 hours of each other in recorded history.
remainder of the season, Florida was hit by three more hurricanes:
, and Jeanne
. It was the first time four hurricanes have
hit one state in one season since four hurricanes hit the Texas coast in the
including the Indianola
Hurricane of 1886 that destroyed the city of Indianola.
Other storms were individually unusual.
strongest hurricane on record to intensify north of 38°N latitude.
storm, Tropical Storm Earl, died out, and its remains crossed over
into the Pacific
Ocean, regenerated, and became Hurricane Frank in the
The most unusual storm of the season was Hurricane Ivan
. Ivan first impressed
meteorologists by becoming the first major Atlantic hurricane
(Category 3 or
above) on record to form as low as 10°N latitude. Ivan was also
recorded as the sixth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record up
to that point (since pushed down to tenth), with a minimum central
pressure of 910 mbar
unusual occurrence in relation to Ivan happened on September 22,
when a 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. The system was given the name Ivan and
eventually strengthened into a respectable tropical storm with winds of 65 mph
(100 km/h) before making landfall along the coast of Texas, causing
minimal flooding and damage.
storm of the season formed at the end of July off the coast of
strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane, and on August 3 came
within 10 miles (16 km) of the Outer Banks of North
making landfall. Damage was limited to flooding and wind
damage, and in Dare County, North Carolina, was estimated at $2.4 million.
were several injuries and one death reported.
Alex later headed out to sea and strengthened to a Category 3
hurricane, making it only the second hurricane on record to have
reached Category 3 strength north of 38° N latitude, before
becoming extratropical over the north Atlantic.
For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Hurricane Alex
Tropical Storm Bonnie
On August 3, a tropical wave approaching the Lesser Antilles
organized into Tropical
Depression Two. As the storm traveled west over the islands, it
dissipated on August 4. The remnants of Tropical Depression Two
continued westward and, on August 9, had strengthened into Tropical
Storm Bonnie in the Yucatan Channel.
Although appearing disorganized, Bonnie
showed unusual structure, with a closed eye wall and a ten-mile
(16 km) wide eye being reported by hurricane hunters
late on August 9 and
early on August 10, a feature almost unheard of in tropical
cyclones of that intensity. Bonnie was a very small storm, with
tropical storm-force winds extending only 30 miles
(50 km) out from the center. Upper level shear weakened the storm, and
Bonnie made landfall as a tropical storm just south of Apalachicola, Florida on August 12. It accelerated
northeastward, and became a remnant area of low pressure on August
14 to the southeast of New
Bonnie caused minor to moderate damage across its path.
States, the storm caused a tornado outbreak that caused
$500,000 (2004 USD) in damage and 3 deaths.
Brunswick, slick rains
from the remnants of Bonnie caused an indirect
For the official forecasts, see:
Charley formed east of the Windward
Islands on August 9 and moved rapidly west across the Caribbean. As it neared Jamaica, it became a hurricane
and grazed that island on August 11, passing through the Cayman Islands the next morning. On August 12, Charley
passed over mainland Cuba as a
Category 3 hurricane just west of Havana.
On August 13, Charley unexpectedly underwent rapid strengthening,
jumping from a Category 2 to a powerful Category 4 storm
in a few hours, while at the same time taking a sharp turn to the
northeast. Charley made landfall as a Category 4
hurricane near Punta Gorda, Florida.
Although the storm caused serious damage,
much of this was limited to a narrow swath associated with the
hurricane's eye wall. Charley was a very fast-moving, compact
storm, and so much of its damage was attributed to high winds
rather than heavy rain. Charley remained a hurricane across the
entire Florida peninsula and passed through Orlando and near Daytona Beach. It later made a second landfall near
North Myrtle Beach, South
Carolina, on August 14. Charley dissipated
Cod, Massachusetts on August 15.
Charley caused approximately $14 billion in damage to the
United States, making it the fourth costliest hurricane in U.S.
history. Fifteen deaths were directly attributed to
Charley; four in Jamaica, one in
Cuba, and ten in Florida.
For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Hurricane Charley
At 11 a.m. AST on August 13, a tropical wave formed
into Tropical Depression Four around 275 miles (440 km)
southeast of Cape
It was the first of five Cape Verde-type hurricanes
2004. Twelve hours later, TD4 strengthened and was named Tropical
Storm Danielle. Late on August 14, Danielle's wind speeds
increased, and it was classified as a hurricane. Danielle moved
northwest, peaking at Category Two. It was predicted to curve
towards the Azores
, but on August 18 lost
motion and slackened to a tropical storm. By August 19, the storm
had become stationary with minimal storm strength 810 miles
(1305 km) southwest of the Azores
storm was downgraded to a tropical depression the next day, and
degenerated to a broad low-pressure area on August 21.
For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Hurricane Danielle
Tropical Storm Earl
Earl formed initially as the fifth tropical depression of the
season on August 13 east of the Lesser
. After traveling west, it reached tropical
storm strength on August 14 around 375 miles (605 km)
southeast of Barbados. On August 15, Earl passed just south of
Grenada and entered
The storm had degenerated by that point, and
that night would have been classified as a tropical wave.
the government of Venezuela denied access to their airspace for storm reconnaissance aircraft.
assessment of Earl's circulation was needed, since satellite
observations are inaccurate for that purpose. Earl also posed a
threat to land, so advisories continued for another
The next morning a reconnaissance aircraft was able to reach the
storm. It found no closed circulation, and Earl was reclassified as
a tropical wave at 11 a.m. AST on August 16. Remnants of the storm
continued across the Caribbean and into Central America, later becoming Tropical
Depression 8E and then Hurricane Frank in the Pacific Ocean (the first time since 1996, when Hurricane Cesar
became Douglas in the Pacific). Earl caused minor
damage to Grenada and St. Vincent
and the Grenadines.
For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Tropical Storm Earl
. See also 2004 Pacific hurricane season
for information on Earl after it crossed oceans.
Frances began as Tropical Depression Six on August 24, and it
became a named storm on August 25 while well east of the Windward Islands
. Frances strengthened
rapidly, reaching Category 4 intensity by August 27.
forecast to turn north and potentially threaten Bermuda, conditions changed and Frances's predicted track
shifted westward. After grazing the Turks and Caicos Islands, it plowed
through the Bahamas.
September 2 through September 4, Frances slowly ground its way
across the Bahamas. Its slow movement allowed a record 2.5 to
3 million Floridians to evacuate their homes. However, as it
ground its way across the Bahamas, it weakened to a Category 2
hurricane due to wind shear, although it was still a very large
sitting stationary off the coast of Florida for nearly
24 hours, Frances finally moved onto the coast of Florida in the early
hours of September 5. It traveled northwest over land, briefly
emerging over the Gulf of
Mexico and striking the Florida panhandle.
passed over Georgia on September 6, it caused heavy rainfall across the
southern U.S. Over of rain were recorded in some places in
Carolina and Virginia, causing heavy flooding. Frances was
downgraded to a tropical depression and dissipated over Pennsylvania on September 9.
Damage to the United States was approximately $9 billion,
making it the 10th costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Most of
Hurricane Frances's damage occurred in Florida as a result of the
storm's slow movement, large size, and long duration of winds.
is directly responsible for seven deaths; one in the Bahamas and
six in the United
Hurricane Frances also produced a
record-setting 123 tornadoes as it moved its way through the United
For official forecasts, see:
Tropical Depression Seven formed at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 UTC) on
August 27, around 140 miles (225 km) southeast of
The depression meandered off the coast for
the rest of the day, strengthening into Tropical Storm Gaston by
midday August 28.At 10 a.m. EDT (1400 UTC) on August 29, Gaston made
landfall on the coast of Bulls
Bay, South Carolina, near the towns of McClellanville and Awendaw.
It was downgraded to a tropical depression
later that day. The storm made landfall in almost the same location
as Hurricane Hugo
At landfall the storm was originally classified as just shy of
hurricane strength. While wind damage in South Carolina was
minimal, the slow-moving storm produced five to ten inches (125 to
250 mm) of rain along its path, causing extensive flooding.
moved north over land, weakening to a tropical depression but still
bringing torrential rain to central Virginia, where at least eight people were killed in the
ensuing floods. The Shockoe Bottom entertainment district near downtown Richmond was devastated by the flooding.
was estimated at about $130 million.
Late on August 30, as Tropical Depression Gaston crossed Chesapeake Bay
, its winds strengthened, and
it was again classified as a tropical storm. It headed out over
the Atlantic and became extratropical on September 1, about
185 miles (300 km) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
On November 19, after a detailed analysis by the NHC, surface-level
winds were determined to be about 75 mph (120 km/h) at
landfall, and Gaston was reclassified as a Category 1
For official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Hurricane Gaston
Tropical Storm Hermine
formed out of an organized area of disturbed weather that had
formed about 325 miles (520 km) southeast of Cape
Hatteras, North Carolina, or 360 miles (580 km) west of Bermuda, and moved rapidly north towards Cape Cod.
On its northward trek, Hermine left behind
most of its convection. The storm made landfall near New Bedford,
Massachusetts, early on August 31, appearing as little more than
a low-level swirl of clouds.
It became extratropical a few
hours later. The remnant low centre tracked up the Bay of Fundy
later on August 31. Some rainfall and thunderstorms over
Island and parts of New England were attributed to Hermine, but most people did not
realize a tropical storm had struck.
There were no casualties or reports of major damage caused by
Hermine. Locally heavy rain did fall in portions of
received 40–55 mm. Minor basement flooding and street closures
were also reported in Moncton, New
For the official forecasts, see the NHC's archive on Tropical Storm Hermine
Ivan was a Cape Verde-type
that began as Tropical Depression Nine on September
2. It became a tropical storm on September 3, and a hurricane on
September 5 while 1,040 miles (1670 km) east of the
Windward Islands, at 9.9° N. Later that day, while at 10.6° N, it
unexpectedly underwent rapid strengthening, reaching
Category 4 intensity by that evening. It was the strongest
storm to have ever been known to intensify that far south.
weakened slightly while continuing westward, and struck Grenada on September
moving westward through the Caribbean Sea, Ivan quickly intensified to a Category 5
hurricane. It fluctuated in strength over the next few
days, and passed within 30 miles (50 km) of Grand Cayman on September 11. Ivan grazed western
Cuba as a Category 5, and moved into the Gulf of
Mexico. The hurricane turned northward over cooler
waters, and made landfall in southern Alabama on September 16 as a 120 mph (195 km/h)
hurricane. Ivan weakened rapidly to a tropical
depression over Alabama, accelerated to the northeast, and became
extratropical over the Delmarva Peninsula on September 18.
Ivan's remnants turned to
the southeast then southwest, and gradually re-organized over the
warm Gulf Stream waters. After crossing southern Florida on September
21 the system regained tropical characteristics over the Gulf of
Mexico, and became a tropical storm on September 23 while
140 miles (220 km) south of Louisiana. Ivan moved to the northwest, and reached
winds of 60 mph (95 km/h) before making landfall near
Louisiana. Ivan quickly deteriorated over Texas, and
dissipated on September 24.
Hurricane Ivan directly killed 92 people throughout the
Caribbean and United States and caused approximately
$13 billion in damage to the United States, making it the
fifth costliest hurricane in United States history. The hurricane
destroyed 90% of Grenada's structures and devastated the island's
economy, and destroyed 85% of the buildings on Grand Cayman. The
combination of Hurricane Ivan with the previous rains of Frances
brought many rivers in the Southeastern U.S. to near-record flood
levels. Ivan was the strongest storm of the season, and the only
2004 Atlantic hurricane to reach Category 5 intensity. Its low
pressure reading of 910 mbar made it the sixth most intense
Atlantic hurricane on record at the time.
For official forecasts see:
Tropical Depression Ten
In addition to the fifteen named storms, there was a single
tropical depression, Tropical Depression 10, which did not
strengthen into a tropical storm. It formed on September 7 from a
tropical wave, and after moving northeastward it dissipated near
on September 9.
For official forecasts, see the NHC's advisory archive on Tropical Depression Ten
formed as a tropical depression east-southeast of Guadeloupe on the evening of September 13.
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.
slow journey was actually caused by a weakening Hurricane Ivan.
Ivan broke up a trough that was fuelling Jeanne's steering
currents. Interaction with Hispaniola caused it to degenerate into
a tropical depression.
After wreaking havoc on Hispaniola, Jeanne struggled to reorganize.
However, it eventually began strengthening and headed north.
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
Jeanne made landfall later in the day in 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
Jersey before its remnants turned east into the open
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.
damage in the United States was $6.8 billion, making this the
13th costliest hurricane in U.S. history.
For official forecasts see:
Depression Twelve formed from a tropical wave about 670 miles
(1,080 km) west-southwest of the Cape Verde islands on September 16.
It became Tropical
Storm Karl at 11 p.m. AST (0300 UTC) that day. Early on September
18, it strengthened rapidly to become a hurricane and was a major
hurricane later that day.
Karl continued strengthening and became a 145 mph
(230 km/h) Category 4 hurricane on September 21. It
fluctuated in intensity over the next few days, reaching
Category 4 strength on two different occasions. It moved
steadily northwards, staying hundreds of miles from any land, until
it began to weaken and become extratropical over cooler waters.
Karl was still of Category 1 strength when it became an
extratropical system on September 24 over the northern Atlantic at
about 47° N. The extratropical system struck the Faroe Islands two days later with 144 km/h (89 mph)
For official forecasts see the NHC's public advisory archive on Hurricane Karl
Depression Thirteen developed from a tropical wave 650 miles
(1,045 km) west-southwest of the Cape Verde islands on September 19.
It became Tropical
Storm Lisa at 8 a.m. AST on September 20 with maximum sustained
winds of 50 mph (80 km/h). A very small storm, its
development was hindered by its proximity to Hurricane Karl. On
September 22, Lisa began merging with a large tropical disturbance
to its east and weakened to a tropical depression for a couple of
days before regaining tropical storm strength on September 25. By
then it was heading generally northwards in the mid-Atlantic. Lisa
went through several phases of weakening and strengthening as it
headed north, finally reaching hurricane strength on October 1, and
again the next day.
At the time, Lisa earned the record for being a named tropical
cyclone (i.e., after first reaching Tropical Storm strength) for
11 days before becoming a hurricane. (Hurricane Dennis
took longer overall but
dropped to a tropical wave before regenerating.) However, Hurricane Irene
beat this record in
the 2005 Atlantic
. (Subsequent reevaluation determined that Lisa
only became a hurricane on October 2, after 11¾ days as a named
cyclone. Its total development time from tropical depression to
hurricane, at 12½ days, is second only to Hurricane
Lisa was a hurricane only briefly, moving over cooler waters and
weakening to a tropical storm. It became extratropical early on
October 3 while located about 475 miles (760 km)
north-northwest of the Azores
. It never
threatened any land area.
For official forecasts see the NHC's public advisory archive on Hurricane Lisa
Tropical Storm Matthew
Matthew began with a tropical wave that entered the southwestern
Gulf of Mexico. This wave grew into a large area of low pressure in
the western Gulf. The nontropical low began feeding moisture
into a cold front that was traversing the United States, causing
heavy rainfall across Louisiana, East
Texas, and Arkansas.
afternoon of October 8, the low pressure system developed into
Tropical Storm Matthew 260 miles (420 km) east-southeast
Matthew was a minimal tropical storm, and
its sustained winds stayed at or near 40 mph (64 km/h)
from its naming until landfall on October 10. It became
extratropical inland over Louisiana later in the day, and dissipated when it was near
Matthew brought up to 12 inches (300 mm) of rain to
southern Louisiana. About a dozen homes were flooded in Terrebonne
Parish after a canal levee burst, and streets in St. Bernard
Parish were reportedly under 2 feet (60 cm) of
The remnants of Matthew continued to spin inland and
delivered heavy rainfall for at least five more days. No injuries
or deaths were reported.
For official forecasts see:
Subtropical Storm Nicole
October 10, the National Hurricane Center determined that a
low-pressure system to the west of Bermuda had acquired sufficient organization to be named
Subtropical Storm Nicole.
It brought light rain to Bermuda and briefly threatened it before
heading towards the northeast.
continued heading generally northeastward over cooler waters and
was declared fully extratropical on
October 11 while 345 miles (555 km) south-southeast of
Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre
continued to issue advisories on, as they called it, post-tropical
Storm Nicole (actually a system absorbed by another extratropical
low) for another day as it moved closer to land and dropped heavy
rainfall on the Maritimes
. The low containing
the remnants of Nicole finally merged with another larger
low-pressure area while in the vicinity of Anticosti
Island on October 14.
No injuries or deaths were
Since 2002, subtropical storms have been assigned names from the
same sequence as tropical storms. Nicole was the first named storm
under this dispensation that never achieved tropical status.
For official forecasts, see the NHC's public advisory archive on Subtropical Storm
Tropical Storm Otto
After a period of inactivity lasting seven weeks, Tropical Storm
Otto formed on November 30, the last day of the official hurricane
season. It developed from a nontropical low-pressure system over
the central North Atlantic Ocean. Otto moved generally south and
southwest for a few days as a minimal tropical storm before
degenerating on December 2.
For official forecasts, see the NHC's public advisory archive on Tropical Storm Otto
Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Ranking
The tropical storms of 2004 ranked from highest to lowest Accumulated Cyclone Energy
given to three significant
. The total for the season was 225. This makes it the
fourth most energetic season since 1950.
ACE measures the strength and duration of a tropical cyclone.
Hurricane Ivan, because it was such a long lasting and strong Cape
Verde-type hurricane, contributed almost one-third of the ACE value
for 2004. Ivan had the second-highest ACE of any tropical cyclone
recorded in the Atlantic, behind only Hurricane San Ciriaco
following names were used for named storms that formed in the
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
except for Gaston and Matthew, which replaced Georges
. Storms were named Gaston, Matthew,
and Otto for the first time in 2004. Names that were not assigned
are marked in .
retired four names in the spring of
2005: Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. They will be replaced in
2010 by Colin, Fiona, Igor, and Julia. The 2004 season was tied
with the 1955 season
and 1995 season
the most storm names retired after a single season until the
five names were retired.
- May 2004 Tropical Cyclone Summary
- Canadian Hurricane Centre: 2004 Tropical Cyclone Season
- US National Climatic Data Center – Atlantic Basin
2004 Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index