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Hurricane Erin was the fifth named tropical cyclone and the second hurricane of the unusually active 1995 Atlantic hurricane season. Erin began as a tropical wave, from the coast of Africa, on July 22, became a tropical storm on July 31, and dissipated as a tropical depression on August 6. It made landfall on the central Floridamarker coastline and along the Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane and Category 2 hurricane in early August 1995, respectively, causing a moderate amount of damage. The system reached peak strength at 100 mph, or 160 km/h, in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane and tropical storm warnings and watches were issued for both coasts, prior to Erin's two landfalls. Tornado and flood watches and warnings were also issued for these areas, as a preparation for the impact of Erin.

$700 million 1995 USD, $923 million (2006 USD), was the total monetary damage estimate from Erin. The monetary damages from the system primarily came from tree downings, crop damages, and ship damages. There was various other damages that also occurred as a result of Erin's impact. Erin was the first hurricane to hit the U.S. since 1992's Andrew (in 22 days shy of three years), although it was hardly the longest gap recorded-official titles for the all time longest gap regarding hurricanes were recorded in the early 1980s.

Meteorological history

On July 22, a tropical wave emerged into the eastern Atlantic Oceanmarker, off the western coast of Africa. The system had two distinct low-level circulation centers, and a large area of convection. By July 27, both circulations were generating deep convection a few hundred miles to the northeast of the Leeward Islands. These centers began to show tropical storm-force winds, but they did not have enough of a closed circulation needed, to be named.

Near midday, on July 30, T-number estimates began to show numbers, potentially indicative of a tropical cyclone. The National Hurricane Center then decided to fly a special night reconnaissance mission into the system, due to the systems close range to the Bahamasmarker and the state of Florida. At midnight on the July 30, Hurricane Hunter aircraft data had showed that the storm had acquired a closed circulation. The system was named Tropical Storm Erin upon the National Hurricane Center's interpreting the data and information on July 31.



The track of the center was pushed by an upper-level low, off the coast of Florida, onto a northwesterly track, from its west-northwest track. This change in the track had it cross only the northern part of the Bahamasmarker and caused the storm to affect the central coast of Florida instead of south Florida. The steering currents associated with the upper-level low made Erin sped up to 17 mph, from a previous 6 mph, and diverted Erin up and around the northeastern portion of the upper-level low. As this was happening, the system experienced shearing, that permitted the system to only have slow strengthening. The shear eventually diminished somewhat however, and on the evening of the July 31, Erin was upgraded to a hurricane. The next day, an eye began to become apparent on satellite imagery. Early in the day on August 2, Erin made landfall at Vero Beach, Floridamarker with winds around 85 mph (140 km/h).

Erin's track bent back to west-northwest while the storm crossed the Florida peninsula during the morning and early afternoon of August 2. Erin weakened to a tropical storm with 60 mph (95 km/h) winds while crossing the peninsula, but remained fairly well-organized, although the system lost its visible eye. Upon emerging into the eastern Gulf of Mexicomarker, Erin reintensified to a hurricane and continued strengthening until its final landfall occurred near Pensacola, Floridamarker during the late morning of the 3rd. An eye had redeveloped while crossing the Gulf of Mexicomarker, as well. Erin had maximum sustained winds around 100 mph (160 km/h) in a small area of its northeastern eyewall when that portion of the hurricane came ashore near Fort Walton Beachmarker, making it a Category 2 hurricane at landfall.

Erin weakened to a tropical storm in southeastern Mississippimarker overnight on the 3rd and 4th. It was only a tropical depression, by the time its track shifted to the north on the 5th and then to the east on the 6th. The depression then merged with a frontal system, over West Virginiamarker, later on the 6th.

Preparations

Louisiana

9,000 residents underwent mandatory evacuation in southeastern Louisiana. A state of emergency was issued to prepare for Erin.A hurricane watch was issued on August 2 that included from south of the mouth of the Pearl Rivermarker, to the mouth of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleansmarker. This was upgraded to a hurricane warning later on August 2. This warning was discontinued on August 3. A tropical storm watch was also issued on August 2 that included east of the Pearl River to south of the mouth of the Pearl River. The last hurricane warning issued was from Grand Isle to Morgan Citymarker on August 3. All other hurricane warning were then discontinued.

Mississippi

A tropical storm watch was issued on August 2 that included the southern coast of Mississippimarker.

Alabama

Dauphin Islandmarker and low lying areas of Mobile Countymarker underwent voluntary evacuation. Alabamamarker opened shelters to house evacuees. A tropical storm watch was also issued on August 2 that included the southern coast of Alabama.

Florida

A hurricane warning was issued at Erin's first landfall from New Smyrna Beachmarker southward, and Lake Okeechobeemarker. A tropical storm was issued from New Smyrna Beach, northward to St. Augustinemarker. A flood watch was issued for all of East-Central Florida. A tornado watch was also issued for East-Central Florida.

Evacuations were issued for 800,000 people initially in Floridamarker, in preparation for the storm. The evacuation of 400,000 people was quickly cancelled as the storm moved north, but 400,000 remained evacuated in Palm Beach County. Police in the county were sent patrolling, to prevent looting. About 300 military aircraft, in the Florida Panhandle, were evacuated to neighboring states.

At Erin's first landfall, a tornado warning was issued for eastern Volusia Countymarker, in East-Central Florida, after radar indicated a possible tornado offshore of Volusia County. The warning said that the tornado was approaching the coast at Ormond Beachmarker and Holly Hill. The National Weather Service bureau in Melbourne also warned that other storms offshore Volusia County showed signs of rotation.

NASAmarker had to halt some activities or preparation of shuttles at Kennedy Space Centermarker, due to Erin.

During Erin's second landfall in Florida, a tropical storm watch was issued 37 hours prior to Erin's landfall, a tropical storm warning 25 hours prior, and a hurricane warning 23 hours prior.

Impact

Widespread tree downings, power line, crop, and roof damage was reported throughout the Southeastern United States.

Total rainfall from Erin

Jamaica

Heavy rains occurred in Jamaicamarker, which caused a plane crash that killed 5 people. The plane was a Cessna 310 twin-engine aircraft, owned by RegionAir, a subsidiary of the Guardsman Group. The aircraft contained four employees of Brinks Jamacia, who were due to testify in a court hearing, and a pilot. The plane departed from the Tinson Pen Aerodome in Kingston, Jamaicamarker, and was bound for Montego Bay, St. Jamesmarker. Two teenagers were also killed on a football field in Braeton, Saint Catherine Parish, when lightning associated with Erin struck them dead.

Northwest Caribbean

All of the Bahaman islands had sustained damage, characterized by the Bahamas Department of Meteorology as mostly minor, much of it from sunken boats. Some of the other damage resulted from structural damage, and crop loss. Damage totaled to $400,000 (1995 USD).

Hurricane-force sustained winds were experienced over various portions of the Bahamasmarker.

A gust of 128 knots occurred at Providencialesmarker, in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Georgia

Minimal damage was experienced in Georgiamarker. Some beach erosion was reported through portions of the state.

U.S. Gulf Coast

No deaths were reported on land, throughout the entire Gulf Coast region.

Florida

Erin caused six drowning deaths across the Gulf of Mexicomarker and Atlantic Oceanmarker off Florida. The cruise ship Club Royale sank, causing three of the deaths. Another ship was also sunk due to Erin. More than one million people lost power due to the hurricane. Erin caused $700 million (1995 US dollars) in damage, mostly in Florida. Moderate beach erosion was reported along Florida's east coast and Panhandle.

Multiple waterspouts and tornadoes were reported throughout the state. A tornado in Titusvillemarker, caused minor damage. Another tornado, near Lake Lizziemarker, killed two horses. Trees also went down and roofs were blown off houses.

Two to four foot storm tide was reported on Florida's east coast, during Erin's first landfall. One to two foot storm tide was reported on Florida's West-Central coast. Six to seven feet storm tides were estimated west of Navarre Beach, and three to four foot storm tides were reported along Pensacola Beach.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a federal disaster declaration for Floridamarker, due to Erin.

NASA recorded a peak wind gust of 82 mph, from the east-southeast, within the Kennedy Space Centermarker vicinity, at a wind tower.

The most significant damage from the second landfall in Florida was near Pensacola, where Erin made landfall, and Navarre Beachmarker, where almost one-third of buildings suffered major damage. A maximum wind of 101 mph was reported at Pensacola Naval Air Stationmarker. The tower of Pensacola Airportmarker was evacuated, due to high winds, and the data is therefore unavailable. More than 2,000 homes were reported damaged from Erin. Some beach erosion was also reported west of Navarre Beach. There was a large amount of crop losses in Northwest Florida resulting from Erin. This included about of the cotton crop of the region, and around 20 to 25 percent of the pecan crop. An estimated amount of 63 percent of power customers in Northwest Florida were left without power from the hurricane.

Two tornadoes were reported at Erin's second landfall in Northwest Florida. A tornado in southern Amelia Islandmarker resulted in trees blocking route A1A. A portion of a roof was torn off a mall in south Jacksonvillemarker beach as a result of tornado.

Alabama

The American Insurance Services Group estimated that there was $20 million of damage in Alabamamarker, which is estimated at half of the total damage by the National Hurricane Center.

Trees and power lines were blown down throughout southwest Alabama. At least 100 homes were reported damaged in Alabama. The estimated pecan crop, for Baldwin Countymarker, Alabama, lost 50 to 75 percent of its total portion.

Mississippi

In Jackson, Mississippimarker, winds of 90 mph were felt, even though Erin made landfall in Pensacola, Floridamarker.

The American Services Group estimated that there was $5 million of damage in Mississippimarker, which is estimated at half of the total damage by the National Hurricane Center.

There are no reports of the total amount of houses reported damaged in Mississippi.

Lack of retirement

Despite the damage, the name Erin was not retired at the end of the season. It was used again during the 2001 and 2007 seasons.

See also



References

  1. (NOAA Prelim 3)
  2. (HPC Summary)
  3. (Associated Press via the Syracuse Herald Journal)
  4. (NOAA Prelim 14)
  5. (NOAA Prelim 15)
  6. (Hurricane Local Statement 836 PM)
  7. (Associated Press via The Post Standard)
  8. (Tornado Warning for Volusia County)
  9. (NASA Data)
  10. (NOAA prelim04)
  11. (Pshjax NOAA Archive)
  12. (Tracking the Tropics Summary of Erin)
  13. (NOAA Mobile Preloc Archive)
  14. (Tracking the Tropics Summary of Erin)
  15. (Federal Disaster Declarations 1995)
  16. (NOAA Newspaper Archive ss0804p2)
  17. (Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms)


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