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Fran - 1996
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HURRICANE FRAN

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Hurricane Fran Near Peak Intensity

A tropical wave moved off the west coast of Africa very late on August 22, a few days after the wave that formed its predecessor, Edouard did the same. The wave organized quickly just as the previous one had done, and a closed circulation was found on August 23, and the wave officially became Tropical Depression Six. As the depression traversed westward through the eastern Atlantic Ocean, a combination of moderate wind shear and outflow from nearby Hurricane Edouard prevented any development, and the depression did not make the transition into Tropical Storm Fran until August 27. Fran strengthened more and became a hurricane late on August 28 while located about 400 miles to the east of the Leeward Islands. At this point, the Fran made a turn to the WNW, but did not strengthen further as it moved closer to Hurricane Edouard. The outflow from the large storm weakened the storm to tropical storm status on August 30, and the storm began to slow in motion significantly, which allowed Edouard to move further away from the storm. This allowed Fran to regain hurricane strength on August 31. The WNW motion resumed on September 1 as the storm began to accelerate and strengthen. The strengthening of Fran was originally gradual, until a period of rapid intensification began on September 3, making the storm into a powerful Category 3 storm by the 4th, with winds of 120 mph and a pressure of 946 mbar which would be the storm's peak intensity. It was also at this time that Fran neared the western edge of the subtropical ridge, which allowed the storm to turn to the northwest and hence avoid a direct strike on Florida. However, this motion brought danger to the Carolinas, and Category 3 Hurricane Fran slammed into Cape Fear, North Carolina late on September 5, packing sustained winds of 115 mph. The wind radius of Fran was very large, and hurricane force winds were likely felt throughout most of the coastal areas of the state. Fran turned to the north after landfall, and weakened very quickly, and by 12 PM EST on September 6, Fran had weakened to a depression. As a depression however, Fran was quite tenacious, and held on to depression status as it moved over the Great Lakes, and finally became extratropical on September 9 while located over southern Ontario, Canada. The remnants of Fran were absorbed into a frontal system early on September 10. Fran killed a total of 34 people in its wake, most due to flash flooding in North and South Carolina. Damage from the storm was severe, and the storm surge on the coast of North Carolina destroyed many beachfront houses. Damage was widespread to trees, roofs, and power lines in North Carolina and Virginia. Flooding was reported as well, in six different states that were affected by the storm. The downed power lines from the pounding winds left an estimate of over 4.5 million without power in North and South Carolina and Virginia. In all, damage estimates totaled 3.2 Billion dollars.

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