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Frances - 2004
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HURRICANE FRANCES

frances.jpg
Powerful Frances North of Hispaniola

Early on August 24, a vigorous tropical wave became organized enough to become Tropical Depression Six. The depression moved westward on the south side of the Bermuda high and intensified, becoming Tropical Storm Frances later on August 24. Frances turned west-northwestward on August 26 as it became a hurricane under prime development conditions, and continued to strengthen. Frances became a Category 4 storm as it began to move in a more northward direction. This northerly direction was expected to continue, causing the storm to head into the open atlantic possibly towards Bermuda. However, Frances recurved back to the West and barreled towards the Bahamas and South Florida.

Frances remained a Category 4 storm until undergoing an eye wall replacement cycle which caused to storm to briefly weaken to a Category 3 before regaining Category 4 status just north of the Windward Islands. Re-intensification continued on August 30, and Frances reached a second peak intensity of 145mph winds with a pressure of 935 mbar late on August 31 as it passed north of the Virgin Islands.

The hurricane moved west-northwestward, which brought the center just north of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahama Islands. Frances remained a strong Category 4 storm utnil passing into the Bahamas where it weakened to a Category 2 due to a combination of wind shear and eyewall replacement cycles. It was still a Category 3 storm, with winds of 115-125 mph, when the storm passed directly over Grand Bahama on September 3.

The storm began to move slowly as it approached Florida due to weak steering currents. The shear weakened slightly as well, which allowed slight re-intensification over the Gulf Stream, followed by slight weakening just before Frances made landfall over the southern end of Hutchinson Island, Florida on September 5 as a Category 2 hurricane. Frances weakened steadily while on the Florida Peninsula and it emerged into the Gulf as a Tropical Storm on September 6.

Frances did not strengthen over the Gulf, with a pressure that remained steady near 980 mb. It moved northwest and made its last landfall on the Florida Panhandle on September 6. The northwestward motion continued until 7 September, when Frances curved northeast and weakened to a tropical depression on September 7 and then became extratropical over West Virginia early on September.

A total of 49 deaths were due to Hurricane Frances, 37 of those deaths in Florida. Damages from Frances were around 9 Billion Dollars, making Frances the seventh costliest hurricane in the United States. Up to six million people experienced power outages during the storm, and over 20 airports were closed in preparation. Damages were also felt at the Kennedy Space Station, estimated at around 100 million US dollars.

The name Frances was retired in the Spring of 2005, and will be replaced with Fiona when the list is used again in 2010.

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