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Alex - 2004

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Hurricane Alex Near Peak Intensity

On July 31, 2004, after an unusually late start, the 2004 season finally got going with Tropical Depression One. The storm was situated about 175 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida, and was moving northwest. This motion continued until the storm began moving erratically off the Georgia coast and was named Tropical Storm Alex. On satellite imagery, you can see the circulation center actually leave the bulk of convection and do a complete loop before pulling back into the convection. Alex then caught onto a ridge and began moving northeast paralleling the eastern United States coast. During this time, Alex strengthened to a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina, and became a Category 2 storm not long after. At this time, the storm moved more north than expected, and came within 10 miles of the North Carolina coast as a Category 2 on October 3.

After this assault on the Carolinas, the storm was back to moving northeast and weakened to a minimal category one hurricane. It was expected to continue to weaken, however the storm defied the forecasts and became a category 2 storm about 400 miles directly south of Cape Cod, Massachussets. It then became even better organized and became a major hurricane with winds of 120 mph on August 4. It maintained this status, for nearly 24 hours, which is highly unusual for a storm so far north. Alex is only the second storm to have major hurricane status past 38 degrees north.

Eventually, the storm began to succumb to the cold waters and increasing shear. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and became extratropical on August 6 and continued to fall apart. One fatality has been attributed to Alex, from a man who drowned off the North Carolina coast due to high surf and rip currents. Around five million dollars in damages have been reported. Alex was the fifth latest start to any hurricane season recorded. The name Alex was not retired and will be used again in 2010.