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Floyd - 1999
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HURRICANE FLOYD

floyd1999.jpg
Hurricane Floyd Near Peak Intensity off the Florida Coast

A tropical wave moved off the coast of West Africa into the Eastern Atlantic Ocean on September 2. The wave was originally not very organized, but it developed quickly in the warm waters. A center of circulation was found on September 5, and the system became Tropical Depression Eight on September 7 when located about 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. A ridge to the north kept the depression moving on a steady path to the WNW for the next few days as it strengthened. The depression became Tropical Storm Floyd early on September 8 when located about 750 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. The storm was in highly favorable areas for development, but Floyd remained a weak tropical storm with an ill-defined inner core for the next day or so. Floyd began to organize significantly on September 9, and it became a hurricane on September 10 while centered about 200 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. After becoming a hurricane, Floyd slowed in speed and turned more to the northwest as it steered around a neighboring trough. The motion continued until the 11th, which kept the storm clear of the northern network of the Caribbean Islands.

Floyd strengthened at a very uneven pace, reaching winds of 105 mph early on September 11, and then weakening to winds of 95 mph later that day before strengthening once again. The strengthening became more significant on September 12, and Floyd strengthened into a powerful Category 3 Hurricane that day. By now, Floyd was in a motion back to the west and the hurricane strengthened further. Floyd reached it's peak intensity at 7 am EST on September 13 with winds of 155 mph when the hurricane was due north of Hispaniola. This put Floyd at the high end of the Category 4, nearly making it a Category 5, but the storm failed to strengthen further. Floyd began the inevitable weakening phase later on the 13th, and was downgraded to a Category 3 just as it neared the Bahamas. The eyewall passed over the northern part of Eleuthera on the morning of the 14th as a Cat 3, and then it passed over Abaco Island on that afternoon, still a Category 3, but slightly stronger. A trough over the United States began to erode the ridge over the Atlantic that was keeping Floyd aimed westward. This caused the storm to take a sharp curve to the north which kept it away from the Florida coast where it was originally suspected to make landfall.

Floyd paralleled the Florida coast on September 14-15 as a Cat 3/4, coming no closer than 95 miles of the coast. Floyd was pointed to the north-northeast late on the 15th as a progressively weakening Category 2 storm, and this direction brought it to a landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina on September 16 as a Cat 2 with winds of 105 mph. Floyd accelerated to the northeast after landfall, which brought the storm across the whole eastern coast of North Carolina on the 16th. Floyd now weakened even faster due to the interaction with land, and it was downgraded to a tropical storm late on the 16th as it passed over New Jersey. The storm reached Long Island on the 17th, and it became extratropical as it grazed the coast of Maine that day. The extratropical remnant turned more to the northeast and moved over New Brunswick later on the 17th, Prince Edward Island on the 18th, and Newfoundland on the 19th. It finally merged with a low over the north Atlantic on the 19th.

Floyd created one of the largest evacuations in Florida's history, prompting more than 1 million people to evacuate. As the path was adjusted to the north, Floyd created the largest evacuation in United States History, as more than 2.6 million people fled Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Floyd was linked to a total of 57 deaths, which was the highest toll since Hurricane Agnes of 1972. 56 of these were in the United States, and one was in the Bahamas. The death tolls by state was as follows: 35 in NC, 6 in PA, 6 in NJ, 3 in VA, 2 in DE, 2 in NY, 1 in CT, and 1 in VT. Most deaths were due to drowning in the floodwaters produced by the storm. A total of 4.5 Billion dollars in damage was estimated, which is about 5.13 Billion in 2006 Dollars.

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