|Tropical Storm Gabrielle Closes in on Florida
On September 11 an area of low pressure formed on a stalled trough over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico became organized enough
to become Tropical Depression Eight just later that day. Under weak steering currents, the depression moved in a compact counterclockwise
loop over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico for over two days as it gradually strengthened. It reached tropical storm strength
on September 13 and became Gabrielle, while located about 175 miles southwest of Venice, Florida. Gabrielle originally moved
slowly to the west, before steering currents became stronger and the storm accelerated to the northeast on September 14. This
brought the strengthening tropical storm to a landfall near Venice, FL around 7 am EST on the 14th with winds of 60 mph and
a pressure of 983 mbar.
The storm quickly crossed the peninsula and sped into the open Atlantic without weakening enough to be downgraded to a
depression. The landfall did weaken the storm to 45 mph winds, but it regained this strength quickly despite unfavorable conditions.
Gabrielle became a hurricane on September 17, about 200 miles west of Bermuda, and it reached a peak intensity of 80 mph winds
that day. The cooler waters and increasing shear weakened Gabrielle to a tropical storm late on September 17, and lost its
convection on September 19, as it became extratropical about 300 miles south of Newfoundland. The extratropical remnant continued
northeast and merged with another system on September 21.
Damage was relatively heavy when compared with the storm's intensity. Total damages in Florida were estimated at 230 million
dollars, mostly due to flooding from the heavy rains caused by the storm. Two total deaths were reported, one from drowning,
and another from a man who fell off a boat during the storm near the Florida Keys.