|Hurricane Ivan Spins in the Gulf of Mexico
A large tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on August 31, organized bands of convection began to develop; and the
storm became Tropical Depression Nine on September 2nd. The depression moved westward in the direction of the Windward Islands
and continued to develop despite its low latitude. It became a tropical storm just 12 hours later and was given the name Ivan.
It continued to strengthen steadily and became a hurricane on September 5. After becoming a hurricane, Ivan went into a cycle
of rapid intensification, reaching major Hurricane status on the same day. Ivan briefly became a Category 4 hurricane during
this time. This made Ivan the southmost major hurricane on record.
Almost as fast as it strengthened, it began to weaken, and fell to Category 2 status. The weakening was due to mid-level
dry air becoming wrapped into the eye, causing the eyewall convection to erode. Another strengthening phase began at around
midnight on September 7, as Ivan approached the Windward Islands. Ivan slammed into the island of Grenada as a powerful Category
3 storm, destroying 90 percent of the structures there.
After raking the island of Grenada with pounding winds, Ivan regained Category 4 status. It remained at Category 4 until
another period of rapid intensification brought the storm to Category 5 status on September 11. This was the first of three
occasions that the long lasting Ivan would reach category 5 level. The burst was shortlived, and Ivan weakened to a Category
4 storm as it underwent an eyewall replacement cycle. At this point, the storm was headed directly for Jamaica.
Just as the powerful Category 4 storm approached Jamaica, it took a sudden turn that took the storm south of the Island,
sparing the island of a good deal of damage, but harsh effects were still felt. After passing Jamaica, Ivan strengthened once
again to a Category 5 storm, this time it reached its peak intensity with winds of 165mph and a pressure of 910 mbar. This
intensity was short lived, and Ivan was once again back to Category 4 status as it began to curve north. The weakening was
also short lived, and Ivan reached Category 5 status for its final time just 80 miles west of the Cayman Islands. The storm
brought winds just under category 5 strength to the islands, causing massive storm surge and pounding winds.
On September 13, Ivan's curve to the north took him into the Yucatan channel between Mexico and Cuba. Ivan was still a
Category 5 at this time, probably due to the increasingly warmer waters. Once Ivan entered the Gulf of Mexico, a steady weakening
trend began as vertical shear on the hurricane gradually increased. As Ivan neared the Gulf Coast, it weakened only slightly
despite increasingly heavy shear and dry air entering the circulation. Hurricane Ivan made landfall as a strong Category 3
storm on September 16, just west of Gulf Shores, AL. The storm packed winds of 125 mph as it moved inland.
Ivan eventually weakened to a tropical storm, and then to a depression on September 17. Ivan produced many tornadoes in
the southeastern United States even as a depression. The remnants of Ivan eventually moved back out to sea, and looped back
through Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. These remnants eventually aquired a warm core and convection. Ivan regained tropical
storm strength in the Gulf of Mexico on September 22. The storm strengthened with a peak intensity of 60 mph winds before
weakening and making landfall in Louisiana as a Tropical Depression.
Ivan caused a total of 124 fatalities in its wake. Including 39 in Grenada, 25 in the United States, and 17 in Jamaica.
Total Damages were estimated at 14.4 Billion, making Ivan the fourth costliest Hurricane in the United States as of 2005.
The name Ivan was retired in the spring of 2005 and will be replaced with Igor when the list is used again in 2010.