|Dennis Making Landfall on the Florida Panhandle
In early July, just after Tropical Storm Cindy formed, Tropical Depression Four formed in the southeastern Caribbean on July
4. On the morning of July 5, it strengthened into Tropical Storm Dennis, and began moving rapidly to the west-northwest. It
reached hurricane strength on the afternoon of July 6 while approaching the southern coast of Haiti as a well-formed Category
1 Hurricane. The next day it strengthened rapidly to a Category 4 major hurricane, the earliest in the season that a storm
had achieved this strength since Hurricane Audrey in 1957. Dennis continued on a WNW path, bringing it between Jamaica and
Haiti on July 7 as a Category 4.
Just south of Cuba, Dennis intensified into the strongest storm on record to form before August in the Atlantic basin,
this record would be surpassed soonafter by Hurricane Emily. On July 8, Dennis passed over Cuba close to the capital, Havana.
After moving over Cuba, it weakened to a Category 1 storm. However, a second period of rapid intensification occurred on July
9 as it moved north toward the Gulf Coast of the United States, and it again achieved Category 4 intensity.
|Dennis' Path of Destruction
Meanwhile, the Florida Keys were under mandatory evacuation orders, and Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi all declared
a state of emergency. Residents along the gulf coast also began to evacuate. ON the morning of June 10, hurricane warnings
were put into effect along the Florida Panhandle, and coasts of Alabama and Mississippi. Forecasts originally projected Dennis
to make landfall holding its Category 4 status, however after moving into cooler water near the coast, it weakened to a Category
3 storm with winds of 120mph as it made landfall at about 2:25pm CDT on July 10 on The Florida Panhandle near Pensacola, Florida.
Dennis claimed at least 70 lives: 44 in Haiti, 16 in Cuba, and 10 in the U.S. Also, more than 100 people have been reported
missing in Haiti. It is considered to be the worst hurricane to strike Cuba since Hurricane Flora in 1963. Damage totals from
Dennis are estimated at 5 to 9 Billion dollars in the United States.