2005 Atlantic hurricane season

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2005 Atlantic hurricane season (Active)
First storm formed1: June 8, 2005 (Arlene)
Active systems2: None
Total named storms: 23 (record)
Total hurricanes: 13 (record)
Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+) 7
Strongest storm: Wilma - 882 mbar (record), 175 mph (280 km/h)
Number of systems making landfall2: 15 (record)
Total damages: estimated over $100 billion (record)
Total ACE: 218
Confirmed fatalities: 2,806 +
Atlantic hurricane seasons
2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007

1Storms of at least tropical storm strength (>39 mph)
2Systems of at least tropical depression strength (>25 mph)

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season officially began June 1, 2005, and will officially last through to November 30, 2005. These dates conventionally delimit the period when most tropical cyclones are expected to form in the Atlantic Ocean. Early indications were for a very active season, and these expectations have been borne out. This season has so far seen 23 tropical storms, making it the most active season on record. It has also seen 13 hurricanes - the most hurricanes to form in a single season. Of these, seven have been major hurricanes, one short of the 1950 season's record. It is the first hurricane season, Atlantic or Pacific, to exhaust the list of names and resort to Greek letters for naming.

The season has caused a large amount of damage, death and destruction. Thus far, the season has caused well over $70 billion in damage (mostly from Hurricane Katrina) and over 2,800 deaths (mostly from Katrina and Hurricane Stan).

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
Category Wind speed Storm surge

5 >=156
>18 (>5.5)
4 131–155
3 111–130
2 96–110
1 74–95
Additional classifications







Season summary

The season began very quickly, with seven tropical storms and two major hurricanes forming before August, setting numerous records for number and strength of storms. The season ended up breaking sixteen records for earliest forming storms, i.e. the fifth storm of the season formed well before any other fifth storm in a season. The trend did not let up, and more storms formed in October than any other month in the year, even though the hurricane season traditionally peaks in September. In total so far, twenty three named storms and twenty six tropical depressions have formed, surpassing many records for storm formation in the Atlantic.

Three of the six most intense hurricanes on record formed, topped off by Hurricane Wilma's 882 mb minimum pressure, shattering Hurricane Gilbert's 17 year old record. It is the only season on record with three Category 5 storms on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale; in addition, some readings from Hurricane Emily indicate it may have briefly been a Category 5 storm.[1]

The storms this season were extraordinarily damaging. Hurricanes Dennis and Emily caused billions of dollars in damage in the early season. In late August, Hurricane Katrina caused damage to south Florida before moving into the Gulf of Mexico and causing catastropic damage to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, in particular the city of New Orleans. It was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, surpassing 1992's Hurricane Andrew. Following Katrina was Rita, which struck near the same area, reflooded New Orleans, and caused more damage to Louisiana and Texas. Later, the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy and Subtropical Depression 22 met over the Northeastern United States, causing intense flooding.

The storms this season were also very deadly, with Katrina and Hurricane Stan causing more than 1,000 deaths each.

An extremely rare storm was Hurricane Vince, which was the easternmost and northernmost storm to ever reach hurricane strength, and was the first recorded tropical cyclone to make landfall on mainland Europe.

When the season ran out of official names, authorities resorted to using letters from the Greek alphabet for the first time. (Some letters had been used for subtropical storms in the 1970s)

The level of activity of the season has had far ranging economic consequences. For example, because of the low overhead of additional global capacity for petroleum production, and the vulnerability of both oil extracting and refining capacity in the Gulf of Mexico, storms have led to speculative spikes in the price of crude oil. The damage to refinery capacity in the United States caused gasoline to soar to prices, when adjusted for inflation, exceded only by the two inflationary spikes of 1918-1920 and 1979-1982. Governments in Europe and the United States tapped strategic reserves of gasoline and petroleum and shortages were reported in the days after Katrina in areas heavily dependent on the Gulf of Mexico for refined gasoline. Even weeks after the storm, prices remained elevated, as the shut in production remained over 1 million barrels per day. Rita damaged wells in the western Gulf of Mexico, which were primarily exploratory, leading to concerns that future production would be damped for some time to come.

Seasonal forecasts

Forecasts of hurricane activity are issued before each hurricane season by noted hurricane expert Dr. William M. Gray and his associates at Colorado State University, and separately by NOAA forecasters.

Dr. Gray's team defines the average number of storms per season (1950 to 2000) as 9.6 tropical storms, 5.9 hurricanes, and 2.3 hurricanes reaching or exceeding Category 3 strength. A normal season, as defined by NOAA, has 6 to 14 named storms, with 4 to 8 of those reaching hurricane strength, and 1 to 3 reaching or exceeding Category 3 strength on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Preseason forecasts

On December 3, 2004, Dr. Gray's team issued its first extended-range forecast for the 2005 season, predicting a slightly above-average season (11 named storms, 6 hurricanes, 3 of Category 3 or higher). Additionally, the team predicted a greatly increased chance of a major hurricane striking the East Coast of the United States and the Florida peninsula. Though the forecast predicts above-normal activity, the level predicted is less than in the 2004 season. [2]

In its April 1, 2005 update, Dr. Gray's team revised the December forecast upward. The updated forecast predicted 13 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 of Category 3 or greater strength. The chance of a storm striking the U.S. was also raised slightly. [3]

On May 16, 2005, NOAA issued its outlook for the 2005 season, forecasting a 70% chance of above-normal activity, with 12–15 named storms, 7–9 hurricanes, and 3–5 hurricanes reaching Category 3 intensity. The Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) value for the season is expected to be 120–190 percent of the median. [4]

On May 31, Dr. Gray's team revised its April forecast upwards. The updated forecast predicted 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale. [5]

Mid-season outlook

On August 2, after an extraordinarily active early season, NOAA released an updated outlook on the remainder of the season. The outlook called for from 18 to a record-tying 21 tropical storms, 9 to 11 hurricanes, and 5 to 7 becoming major hurricanes. The ACE value was now forecast to be 180 to 270 percent of the median. These figures are roughly twice those of a normal season. While June and July were unusually active, August and September were expected to contain the peak of seasonal activity as in most seasons. The NOAA noted a higher than normal confidence in the forecast of above-normal activity. [6]

On August 5, 2005, Dr. Gray and his associates followed suit, and issued their updated forecast. It is consistent with the NHC's update, calling for 20 tropical storms, 10 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes.


Tropical Storm Arlene on June 10, 2005, at 20:15 UTC.
Tropical Storm Arlene on June 10, 2005, at 20:15 UTC.

Tropical Storm Arlene

Main article: Tropical Storm Arlene (2005)

Arlene was an early season storm that developed from a low-pressure area north of Honduras. Despite significant shear, the storm continued to organize into a tropical depression on June 8 and strengthen into a tropical storm the following day.

Arlene continued to be affected by the heavy shear as it headed north, spreading tropical storm-force winds and heavy rain to the Cayman Islands and Cuba, as far as 150 statute miles (240 km) east of the center. The shear weakened as Arlene entered the Gulf of Mexico on the morning of June 10, and the storm strengthened to just under Category 1 strength.

Arlene made landfall just west of Pensacola, Florida in the afternoon of June 11, though most of its effects were onshore long before the center. Arlene was the most intense land-falling June storm since Hurricane Allison hit the same location as a strong tropical storm in 1995. Though weakened heavily by landfall, Arlene persisted as a dissipating tropical depression, passing into Indiana and Michigan as it became extratropical.

The only death attributed to Arlene was a woman caught in riptide in Miami Beach, Florida, far from the center of circulation.[7]

Tropical Storm Bret

Late in June, an area of disturbed weather formed in the Bay of Campeche. A Hurricane Hunter flight was dispatched (#), and on arrival found a closed circulation [8]. This observation caused the system to be classified as Tropical Depression Two in the evening of June 28. Two hours later, observations from the same aircraft indicated that it had reached tropical storm strength, and it was named Tropical Storm Bret. This was the first time that two tropical storms had formed in June since the 1986 season, and only the thirteenth time since 1851.

The storm moved west-northwest, making landfall near Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico around 7 a.m. CDT (1200 UTC) on June 29 as a weak tropical storm. It continued inland, producing heavy rain over the state of Veracruz, until dissipating over the mountains of San Luis Potosí late on June 29.

Hundreds of homes were damaged, and several towns, including Naranjos and Chinampa, about 60 statute miles (100 km) south of Tampico, were severely flooded. The only reported fatalities were the two occupants of a car that was swept away by floodwaters in Naranjos ([9]).

Tropical Storm Cindy

Tropical Storm Cindy just before landfall on July 6, 2005, at 0245 UTC.
Tropical Storm Cindy just before landfall on July 6, 2005, at 0245 UTC.

Early season activity continued in July, with a vigorous tropical wave strengthening into Tropical Depression Three in the northwestern Caribbean Sea on July 3. While it began organizing quickly, it did not reach tropical storm strength before striking the Yucatán Peninsula early on July 4. Once over land, the organizing trend stopped, and the depression began losing its circulation.

Later on July 4, a new center of circulation began forming to the north of the original center over the Gulf of Mexico. Early the next day it strengthened and was named Tropical Storm Cindy. The storm began heading north across the Gulf towards Louisiana and made landfall near Grand Isle late on July 5, and started losing strength over Mississippi and Alabama. It lost tropical characteristics over the Carolinas on July 7.

Even though it had weakened to a depression and was well inland, Cindy's effects were still felt; some parts of Atlanta Motor Speedway and Tara Field airport in Hampton, Georgia suffered severe damage from an F2 tornado spawned by the storm. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta had over 5 inches (130 mm) of rain on July 6, its sixth-highest one-day rainfall since 1878. Most of that fell during just two hours (8 to 10 p.m. EDT). This is more rain than it normally gets in all of July. Many other places, such as Slidell, Louisiana, Gulfport, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and Salisbury, Maryland, also saw over 5 inches (125 mm).

Three deaths were attributed to Cindy—two in Georgia and another in Alabama.

Hurricane Dennis on July 10, 2005, as it made landfall at 1915 UTC.
Hurricane Dennis on July 10, 2005, as it made landfall at 1915 UTC.

Hurricane Dennis

Main article: Hurricane Dennis

Tropical Depression Four formed in the southeastern Caribbean on the evening of July 4. On the morning of July 5, it strengthened into Tropical Storm Dennis. The newly named storm began moving rapidly to the west-northwest. It reached hurricane strength on the afternoon of July 6 while approaching the southern coast of Hispaniola. The next day it strengthened rapidly to become a Category 4 major hurricane. Dennis moved between Jamaica and Haiti on July 7. Just south of Cuba, Dennis reached its peak as the strongest recorded Atlantic storm to form before August. On July 8, Dennis passed over Cuba close to the capital, Havana. A second episode of rapid intensification occurred on July 9 as it moved north toward the Gulf Coast of the United States, and it again achieved Category 4 intensity. Dennis made landfall as a Category 3 just southeast of Pensacola, Florida.

Dennis claimed at least 70 lives: 44 in Haiti, 16 in Cuba, and 10 in the U.S. Also, more than 100 people have been reported missing in Haiti. It is considered to be the worst hurricane to strike Cuba since Hurricane Flora in 1963. Total damages are estimated at $5-$9 billion USD.

Hurricane Emily

Hurricane Emily before landfall on July 16, 2005.
Hurricane Emily before landfall on July 16, 2005.
Main article: Hurricane Emily

Tropical Depression Five became the fifth named storm of the season east of the Lesser Antilles on July 11. It moved westward and hit Grenada on July 14 as a Category 1 storm. It entered the Caribbean Sea and began intensifying rapidly. It reached Category 4 intensity on July 15. Emily broke Hurricane Dennis's eight-day-old record for the most intense storm to form prior to August when it reached a minimum pressure of 929 mbar, along with 155 mph (250 km/h) winds on July 16. Some readings indicate that Emily may have briefly reached Category 5 strength around this time; reclassification, if any, will not occur until the end of the season. After passing south of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Emily made landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula near Tulum on the morning of July 18. Emily made its second landfall in rural northeast Mexico near Boca Madre, Tamaulipas as a Category 3 storm.

Emily is blamed for at least fourteen deaths; one in Grenada, four in Jamaica, seven in the Caribbean and two in Mexico.

Tropical Storm Franklin

A tropical wave off the Bahamas organized into Tropical Depression Six on the afternoon of July 21. The depression became the sixth named storm of the season only two hours later, the first time the sixth storm of the season has ever formed this early in the season. The storm headed northward from the Bahamas, then northeast over the Atlantic, becoming disorganized by July 24 under the effects of shear and drier air. It moved erratically, sometimes wobbling in place, inching closer to Bermuda while barely remaining a tropical storm. Bermuda put up a tropical storm watch for a short time, but dropped it when Franklin moved far west of the island. Bermuda did receive some strong wind gusts, however. Tropical Storm Franklin then accelerated north and northeast, roughly paralleling the East Coast of the United States, and strengthened to nearly hurricane strength. Eventually, Franklin became extratropical along the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and the remnant was absorbed by a mid-latitude cyclone east of Newfoundland.

Tropical Storm Gert

A tropical wave, which had earlier crossed Honduras and the Yucatán peninsula, organized into Tropical Depression Seven on the afternoon of July 23 in the Bay of Campeche. It was upgraded to Tropical Storm Gert early the next day, the earliest formation of a seventh named storm on record. It strengthened little before making landfall on the coast of Mexico south of Tampico late on July 24 with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (70 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 1005 mbar. It moved inland over central Mexico before dissipating on July 25.

Gert struck in around the same area as Hurricane Emily just four days earlier, causing fear of flooding and landslides due to saturated lands. As a precaution some 1,000 people were evacuated from low-lying residences and businesses near the towns of Naranjos and Tamiahua. Naranjos was struck by Tropical Storm Bret in late June.

Tropical Storm Harvey

After lingering off the east coast of the U.S. for several days, a tropical wave finally strengthened into the eighth depression of the season due southwest of Bermuda on August 2. Due to its proximity and projected path towards Bermuda, a tropical storm warning was issued for the island. It became a tropical storm the next day.

Harvey was not initially a particularly well-organized storm, and had some subtropical characteristics, but it soon became more tropical in nature. It passed just south of Bermuda early on August 4 while at its peak intensity, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (105 km/h) and a minimum central pressure of 994 mbar. Though Bermuda was soaked by Harvey, the island was virtually untouched, and the storm caused little disruption.

Harvey then headed east and later northeast over the open Atlantic. The storm became extratropical on the afternoon of August 8.

Hurricane Irene taken August 15, 2005, with 90 mph (145 km/h) winds
Hurricane Irene taken August 15, 2005, with 90 mph (145 km/h) winds

Hurricane Irene

Tropical Depression Nine formed from a tropical wave west of Cape Verde on the afternoon of August 4, the second Cape Verde-type storm of the season. The system was expected to strengthen rapidly, but the depression encountered dry air and wind shear as it turned to the northwest and it broke down. Despite poor organization and shearing winds, it reached Tropical Storm strength for a while on August 78 and received the name Irene. Further shear and dry air disrupted the cyclone formation, and Irene was downgraded to a tropical depression on August 8.

Irene cycled between apparent reintensification and significant weakening, becoming so disorganized in the early morning of August 10 that forecasters were considering declaring that it had dissipated [10]. However, the depression continued to move westward into warmer waters and shear-free environment, and again attained tropical storm status, rapidly strengthening to just under hurricane strength before leveling off again. On August 14 at 2144 UTC, an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter read winds of 75 mph (120 km/h), making Irene a minimal Category 1 hurricane. Later, it strengthened even further in low shear conditions under an upper level anticyclone. On August 16 its winds briefly strengthened to that of a Category 2 hurricane, but shortly thereafter Irene began to reach cooler waters and weaken. It became extratropical 290 statute miles (470 km) off Cape Race, Newfoundland, on August 18, having never posed a threat to land.

Tropical Depression Ten

Tropical Depression Ten formed 1100 statute miles (1770 km) east of the Lesser Antilles on August 13. Conditions were not favorable for development, as strong vertical shear literally ripped the system apart, and advisories were discontinued the next day when it showed no organized deep convection. The remnants of Tropical Depression Ten continued drifting northwestward before degenerating into a tropical wave north of the Leeward Islands. This remnant eventually merged with another system in the "complex genesis" of what would become Tropical Depression Twelve and, eventually, Hurricane Katrina.

Tropical Storm Jose

Tropical Depression Eleven formed in the Bay of Campeche on August 22. Later in the day it strengthened into Tropical Storm Jose over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and achieved a maximum strength of 50 mph (80 km/h) before it made landfall in the state of Veracruz, Mexico on August 23. The Mexican government issued Tropical Storm Warnings from Veracruz to Punta El Lagarto. It then rapidly weakened and soon dissipated as it moved inland over Mexico. While drenching Mexico's Gulf coast, Jose forced some 25,000 residents from their homes in Veracruz state. Eight deaths were attributed to Jose's heavy rains in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Two more were reported missing [11].

Data reported that Jose became more organized two hours before making landfall and was forming an eye, but its winds remained well under hurricane strength. Just how strong Jose was before landfall is unknown. [12]

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005, near its peak intensity
Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005, near its peak intensity
Main article: Hurricane Katrina

An area of disturbed weather over the Bahamas developed into a tropical depression on August 23, becoming a tropical storm on the 24th and a hurricane on the 25th. It made landfall on August 25 in southern Florida, emerging a few hours later into the Gulf of Mexico. Katrina rapidly intensified to Category 5 status on the morning of August 28, becoming the fourth most intense recorded hurricane in the Atlantic basin. The hurricane weakened to a Category 4 as it turned northward to hit southeastern Louisiana. Hours later, it crossed the Breton Sound and made its third and final landfall as a Category 3 hurricane near Pearlington, Mississippi.

The Mississippi and Alabama coastlines suffered catastrophic damage from the storm's 30-foot (9 m) storm surge. New Orleans escaped the worst damage from the storm, but levees along the Intercoastal Canal and 17th Street Canal ultimately were breached by storm surge, flooding about 80% of the city. 1,302 people have been confirmed dead across 5 US states. Once damage totals come in, Katrina will likely be the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with damage totals expected to reach as high as $100 billion.

Tropical Storm Lee

Tropical Depression Thirteen formed from a tropical wave about 960 statute miles (1,550 km) east of the Lesser Antilles on August 28. It then degenerated into a broad area of low pressure on August 29, but later regenerated on August 31 and the National Hurricane Center resumed advisories. Later that day, it strengthened into Tropical Storm Lee, the 12th named storm of the season. Later in the evening it was downgraded to a tropical depression, having encountered an unfavorable upper level environment. The tropical depression dissipated on the evening of September 1.

Lee never posed any threat to land while it was in the middle of the Atlantic.

Hurricane Maria on September 6, 2005 at 12:45 EDT (1645 UTC).
Hurricane Maria on September 6, 2005 at 12:45 EDT (1645 UTC).

Hurricane Maria

Tropical Depression Fourteen formed from a tropical wave 1100 statute miles (1,770 km) east of the Leeward Islands on September 1, and strengthened to Tropical Storm Maria the next day. Early on September 4, Maria became the fifth hurricane of the season. On September 5, it briefly strengthened to Category 3 intensity, making it the fourth major hurricane of the season. It gradually weakened and dropped to tropical storm strength on September 8.

Advisories ceased on September 10 as Maria became extratropical mid-way between Cape Race and the Azores. It never threatened land as a hurricane, but Maria became a strong extratropical storm, and actually strengthened to hurricane strength once again while moving towards Iceland. Measurements taken of the storm on September 11 showed it had deepened dramatically to 970 mbar (typical of a Category 2 hurricane) - much stronger than the 989 mbar it had when the NHC issued their last advisory.

The remnants of Maria buffeted Iceland with gusty winds and heavy rains on September 13. Maria's extratropical remnants also triggered a landslide in Norway that killed one person. [13]

Hurricane Nate

Hurricane Nate on September 6, 2005
Hurricane Nate on September 6, 2005

A well-defined low pressure system located about 350 statute miles (560 km) south-southwest of Bermuda was determined to be a tropical depression on September 5. It strengthened into Tropical Storm Nate that evening and continued to strengthen with little change in position, becoming the sixth hurricane of the season on September 7.

As Nate moved towards Bermuda, a hurricane watch was issued. Nate spared the island from a direct hit, and just barely brushed it. Hurricane Nate passed 125 statute miles (200 km) south of Bermuda on September 8. After turning north, it became extratropical over the central Atlantic Ocean on September 10.

Canadian Navy ships headed to the U.S. Gulf Coast to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were slowed down trying to avoid Nate and Ophelia. The ships were loaded with relief supplies including lumber, thousands of diapers, blankets and cots, along with its crew sent to assist in the situation. [14]

Hurricane Ophelia on September 15, 2005.
Hurricane Ophelia on September 15, 2005.

Hurricane Ophelia

Main article: Hurricane Ophelia

Tropical Depression Sixteen formed over the northern Bahamas on September 6. Early on September 7, it organized into Tropical Storm Ophelia, becoming a hurricane the next day. It churned nearly stationary for two days off the coast of Florida, causing warnings to be raised for the state. On September 12 the storm began moving slowly toward North Carolina, at times nearly stalling and alternating between tropical storm and hurricane intensity. The hurricane did not make landfall, although the western eyewall reached the coastal areas of North Carolina, causing extensive damage in the Outer Banks and around Cape Fear. Ophelia became extratropical late on September 17 near Nova Scotia, but it continued northeastward, producing strong winds and heavy rain over Atlantic Canada.

Current insured damage estimates are around $800 million USD.

Hurricane Philippe

A vigorous tropical wave that moved off the African coast on September 9 showed increasing signs of organization for at least four days before being designated Tropical Depression Seventeen on September 17. By this time it had moved across the Atlantic Ocean, about 370 statute miles (600 km) from Barbados. It was upgraded to a tropical storm late that evening. This marked only the third time that the 'P' name has been used to name an Atlantic storm since alphabetical naming began in 1950. The other times were for Pablo in 1995 and Peter in 2003. On September 18, Philippe was upgraded to a hurricane, becoming the eighth Atlantic hurricane of the season. It was downgraded to a tropical storm on the afternoon of September 20 and dissipated 3 days later south of Bermuda.

Hurricane Rita

Hurricane Rita near peak intensity in the Gulf of Mexico on September 21, 2005.
Hurricane Rita near peak intensity in the Gulf of Mexico on September 21, 2005.
Main article: Hurricane Rita

The season's 18th tropical depression formed over the Turks and Caicos Islands on September 18. Later that day, it became the 17th tropical storm of the season. Rita slowly intensified to become a hurricane on September 20. It was at Category 1 and later Category 2 intensity as it moved south of the Florida Keys. Rapid intensification ensued as Rita moved into the Gulf of Mexico on September 20, and Rita became a Category 5 hurricane on September 21, becoming the third most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin. Rita made landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border on September 24. It moved northward, dropping heavy rains and spawning tornadoes in its path.

While it did not deliver a direct hit to the Houston metropolitan area, major flooding was reported in Port Arthur and Beaumont. Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes in Louisiana were devastated. Offshore oil platforms throughout Rita's path also suffered significant damage. Six people are confirmed dead from Rita's direct effects, and total insured damage from the storm is estimated at $8 billion.

Tropical Depression Nineteen

A low pressure system formed from a tropical wave about 665 miles (1075 km) west of the southwesternmost Cape Verde Islands and developed into a tropical depression on September 30. It experienced strong shear and dissipated on October 2 without strengthening to a tropical storm.

Hurricane Stan making landfall in Mexico.
Hurricane Stan making landfall in Mexico.

Hurricane Stan

Main article: Hurricane Stan

A tropical wave off of the African coast formed a low pressure area when it reached the western Caribbean Sea and organized into a tropical depression on October 1. Off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, it strengthened into Tropical Storm Stan on October 2. Stan made landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula and weakened to a tropical depression, but upon reemerging into the Bay of Campeche it strenghened into a hurricane on October 4. Stan made landfall later that morning in the east-central coast of Mexico, south of Veracruz, as a Category 1 hurricane.

Stan was blamed for at least 1,153 deaths across six countries, of which at least 1,036 are in Guatemala. That number could reach as high as 2,000 by the time all damage has been surveyed. In addition, over 100,000 people were been forced to evacuate. The storm produced landslides, flooding, and heavy winds throughout its path through Central America and Mexico. The eruption of the Santa Ana Volcano on October 1 helped increase the destruction as a result of the floods and mudslides.

Tropical Storm Tammy

A tropical disturbance north of the Bahamas showed signs of having a well-defined surface circulation and sufficient wind velocity, and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Tammy at 7:30 am EDT (1130 UTC) October 5 east of Florida, skipping Tropical Depression status. This marked only the second time that the 'T' name has been used to name an Atlantic storm since alphabetical naming began in 1950; the other time was for Tanya in 1995. Tammy made landfall in the vicinity of Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Florida late that same evening. Tammy then moved rapidly inland across southern Georgia and Alabama before dissipating into a remnant low that drfited south into the Gulf of Mexico. The rains associated with Tammy became disconnected from the cyclonic circulation after landfall, and affected much of Georgia, South Carolina and parts of North Carolina.

On October 8 new advisories were issued, now for the northeastern United States, as rains initially associated with Tammy had merged with a strong cold front to form a large plume of tropical moisture that moved north into the region. While this new storm technically did not have the characteristics of a "named" storm, it was the largest rain event in the region since Hurricane Floyd in 1999, producing widespread 6-12" rainfalls that caused downed trees, flooding, and scattered blackouts. Several people were reported missing in the state of New Hampshire, and the Governor requested FEMA relief funds. (See Northeast Flooding of October 2005)

Subtropical Depression Twenty-two

Subtropical Depression Twenty-two formed from a non-tropical low 450 miles (725 km) southeast of Bermuda on October 8. The system encountered unfavorable conditions, and advisories were discontinued later that night as the system dissipated at 11 pm EDT (0300 UTC October 9). The NHC continued to monitor the remnant as it headed towards the east coast of the United States. The system continued to pull tropical moisture northward and was, along with Tropical Storm Tammy (see above), a partial cause of severe flooding in New York, New Jersey and New England during early to mid-October and contributing to the wettest month on record in locales throughout the Northeastern United States [15].

Hurricane Vince

Hurricane Vince near the Madeira Islands on October 9, 2005, at 12:00 UTC. (© 2000 EUMETSAT)
Hurricane Vince near the Madeira Islands on October 9, 2005, at 12:00 UTC. (© 2000 EUMETSAT)
Main article: Hurricane Vince

Tropical Storm Vince was named on October 9 in the east Atlantic near Madeira (east-southeast of the Azores), and was upgraded to a hurricane later that day. Some NHC analyses suggest that Vince could have been a subtropical storm on October 8 and thus should have been named at that point.[16] Although Vince was a very small and short-lived storm that only briefly reached hurricane strength, it was notable for developing in the far eastern Atlantic, well away from where hurricanes are usually found. This may be the farthest north and east a tropical cyclone had ever formed in the Atlantic Basin.

Vince made landfall on the Iberian Peninsula near Huelva, Spain on October 11 just after weakening to a tropical depression. Vince was the first tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in Spain. No damages or injuries were reported.

Hurricane Wilma near peak intensity on October 19.
Hurricane Wilma near peak intensity on October 19.

Hurricane Wilma

Main article: Hurricane Wilma

Tropical Depression Twenty-four formed southwest of Jamaica on October 15 and was upgraded to a tropical storm on October 17. On October 18 the storm developed a tiny well-defined eye and began intensifying rapidly, reaching Category 5 strength with a record-setting pressure of 882 millibars by October 19.

Wilma weakened slightly to a Category 4 before hitting the Yucatán coast on the October 22. It drifted over the peninsula, bringing heavy rain and wind to an area hit by Hurricane Emily only 3 months before. The storm then moved quickly across southern Florida on October 24 as a Category 3 storm before racing northeastward and becoming extratropical.

47 people so far are confirmed dead (25 direct and 22 indirect) with billions of dollars in damage across the Caribbean and Florida. Well-executed evacuations throughout its path likely lessened the death toll.

Tropical Storm Alpha

Tropical Storm Alpha making landfall near Barahona, Dominican Republic, on October 23, 2005.
Tropical Storm Alpha making landfall near Barahona, Dominican Republic, on October 23, 2005.
Main article: Tropical Storm Alpha (2005)

A tropical wave organized into Tropical Depression Twenty-five in the eastern Caribbean Sea on October 22. Later that day it strengthened into a tropical storm as it moved west-northwestward. On the morning of October 23, it made landfall with 60 mph (95 km/h) winds near the city of Barahona in the Dominican Republic, then moved over Haiti. Alpha weakened to a tropical depression over Hispaniola's steep mountains. Alpha emerged into the Atlantic Ocean where it was absorbed by Hurricane Wilma.

Tropical Storm Alpha was the 22nd named system in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, breaking the 1933 season's record and becoming the first Tropical Storm to be named using the Greek Alphabet.

A total of 20 people have been reported dead because of Tropical Storm Alpha.

Hurricane Beta near maximum intensity off the coast of Nicaragua on October 29.
Hurricane Beta near maximum intensity off the coast of Nicaragua on October 29.

Hurricane Beta

Main article: Hurricane Beta

Late on October 26, a broad area of low pressure in the southwestern part of the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Costa Rica developed and became Tropical Depression Twenty-six. At the second full advisory six hours later, it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Beta. Beta strengthened into a hurricane at 2 am EDT October 29, after spending a few hours on the border between tropical storm and hurricane strength. At 3am EST October 30, Hurricane Beta became a category 3 storm with sustained winds around 115 mph (185 km/h). This brings the total amount of major hurricanes this season to 7, one short of the record 8 set in the 1950 season.

Beta extends the record for most tropical storms in a season to 23 and is the first use of the name Beta for a tropical system. Beta is the 13th hurricane of 2005, which breaks the 1969 record of 12 hurricanes. Additionally, it is the first hurricane named with a Greek letter.

The Colombian island of Providencia, about 140 miles off the coast of Nicaragua, was subjected to hurricane force winds for several hours as the center of the storm moved slowly very close to or over the island. Initial reports indicated extensive damage to homes and a loss of communications with the islanders.

Recent timeline of events

Main article: Timeline of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season


No tropical cyclone activity has yet occurred in November in the Atlantic basin.

Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Ranking

ACE (104 kt2) – Storm
1. 38.6   – Wilma 13. 5.16   – Harvey
2.   32.0   – Emily       14. 2.36   – Stan
3. 25.2   – Rita 15. 2.36   – Arlene
4. 19.8   – Katrina 16. 1.74   – Vince
5. 18.4   – Dennis 17. 1.30   – Cindy
6. 16.3   – Ophelia 18.   0.570 – Tammy
7. 13.9   – Maria 19. 0.528 – Alpha
8. 12.7   – Irene 20. 0.528 – Gert
9.   7.21 – Nate 21. 0.510 – Jose
10.   6.59 – Beta 22. 0.245 – Bret
11.   6.27 – Franklin 23. 0.123 – Lee
12.   5.95 – Philippe

The tropical storms of 2005 ranked from highest to lowest ACE, given to three significant figures. The total for the season up to and including Hurricane Beta is 218. This would place it 4th in the list of most energetic seasons since 1950.

ACE measures the strength and duration of a tropical cyclone. While among the most active on record, the ACE values for the 2005 season still understate the season's actual activity since only three long-lasting Cape Verde hurricanes - Maria, Irene, and Emily - formed, a lower number than in other seasons of similar activity. This discrepancy is most obvious in the comparatively high ACE value of Hurricane Emily to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Emily was not as strong as either storm, but formed out in the Atlantic and made a long trek across the Caribbean Sea before making landfall whereas Katrina and Rita both developed in the Bahamas, close to the mainland, and lasted for much shorter periods of time. In addition, Ophelia is high for its intensity because it maintained itself for a long period of time and was slow to build and dissipate.

Source: US National Climatic Data Center - Atlantic Basin 2005 Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index

Records and notable events

The 2005 season has already broken numerous records for recorded tropical cyclone activity, and is still setting records. Note that systematic monitoring of the Atlantic for tropical cyclones and disturbances that could become tropical cyclones did not commence until 1944 [17]. Before then, storms or depressions that did not approach populated land or shipping lanes, especially those of relatively short duration, could go undetected.

Rapid formation

Almost every storm in 2005 has set a record for rapid formation. The table shows the dates on which each storm formed, and the old record for earliest-forming storm of that number.

Rapid formation of storms in 2005
From the NHC "best track" data [18]
Storm # Formation Day Name Old record Difference
1 June 9 Arlene January 19, 1978 +141 days
2 June 28 Bret May 17, 1887 +42 days
3 July 5 Cindy June 11, 1887 +24 days
4 July 5 Dennis Cindy - July 7, 1959 -2 days
5 July 11 Emily Danny - July 16, 1997 -5 days
6 July 21 Franklin August 4, 1936 -14 days
7 July 24 Gert August 7, 1936 -14 days
8 August 3 Harvey August 15, 1936 -12 days
9 August 7 Irene August 20, 1936 -13 days
10 August 22 Jose Jerry - August 23, 1995 -1 day
11 August 24 Katrina August 28, 1933/1936/
Karen - 1995
-4 days
12 August 31 Lee Luis - August 29, 1995 +2 days
13 September 2 Maria September 8, 1936 -6 days
14 September 5 Nate September 10, 1936 -5 days
15 September 7 Ophelia September 16, 1933 -9 days
16 September 17 Philippe September 27, 1933 -10 days
17 September 18 Rita September 28, 1933 -10 days
18 October 2 Stan October 1, 1933 +1 day
19 October 5 Tammy October 25, 1933 -20 days
20 October 9 Vince October 26, 1933 -17 days
21 October 17 Wilma November 15, 1933 -29 days
22 October 22 Alpha none N/A
23 October 27 Beta none N/A

Early strength

When its sustained winds reached 150 mph on July 8 and a minimum pressure of 930 mbar on July 10, Hurricane Dennis became the strongest storm to form prior to August, and the earliest Category 4 storm to form in the Caribbean.

When Hurricane Emily reached Category 4 intensity on July 15, the 2005 season became the only season to have two hurricanes reach Category 4 intensity before the end of July. Emily also broke Dennis's nine-day-old record for the strongest storm on record before August when its maximum sustained winds reached 155 mph (250 km/h) on July 16, along with a minimum central pressure of 929 mbar.

This activity was reflected in the Accumulated Cyclone Energy value at the end of July; at 61 (104 kt2), it was the highest ever. The previous highest was 49 (104 kt2) in 1916; the modern record was 33 (104 kt2) in 1966.

Number of storms

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, with 23 storms, is the most active season on record, surpassing the 1933 season's 21 storms. With 13 hurricanes, the 2005 season also has had the most hurricanes form, surpassing the 1969 season's 12. While the 1950 season still holds the record for the most major hurricanes, eight (2005 has seen seven so far), the 2005 season has also tied the 1999 season's record of five Category 4 and 5 hurricanes and holds the record for the most Category 5 hurricanes in a single season, three (see below).

With the formation of Tropical Storm Vince, Tropical Storm Wilma, and Tropical Storm Alpha, 2005 became the first season to use the 'V' and 'W' and Greek Letter names, respectively, since naming of Atlantic storms began in the 1950 season. It also shared the distinction of being only the second season to use the 'R', 'S', and 'T' names with the 1995 season.

With the formation of Tropical Storm Alpha, 2005 became the first hurricane season in the Atlantic to exhaust the list of names and the first, Atlantic or Pacific, to resort to using Greek letters for storm names.

2005 holds the record for the most storms to ever form during the month of July. Five storms (Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, and Gert) formed during that period. The previous record for most storms to form in the month of July was four; this record was held by the 1966 and 1995 seasons.

The number of storms before the end of July (seven) is also a record, breaking the record of five set in the 1887, 1933, 1936, 1959, 1966, and 1995 seasons.

2005 and 1933 share the record for the most storms (17) forming before the end of September. 2005 now also holds the record for most storms (23) forming before the end of October and ties for the number of storms forming during October with 1950, as six storms (Stan, Tammy, Vince, Wilma, Alpha and Beta) have formed during that period.

Strongest storms

Hurricane Katrina became the fourth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record (currently sixth) when the storm's central pressure dropped to 902 mb on August 28.

Hurricane Rita became the third most intense Atlantic hurricane (currently fourth) and the most intense hurricane on record in the Gulf of Mexico after reaching a pressure reading of 897 mb on September 21.

Hurricane Wilma became the most intense Atlantic hurricane in recorded history (but note numerous Pacific typhoons have been more intense) at just before 5:00 am EDT on October 18, when the central pressure was measured at 884 mb. At 8:00 am EDT, Wilma continued to intensify, reaching 882 mb. Wilma also holds the record of being the only Category 4 storm in the Atlantic Basin to record a minimum central pressure below 900 mb with a central pressure of 894 mb and winds of 155 mph on October 20. This may also make Wilma the most intense Category 4 storm on record worldwide. Katrina, Rita and Wilma are the three most intense storms ever in a single Atlantic hurricane season.

Hurricane Wilma also underwent the most rapid deepening for a 24-hour period ever measured. At noon on October 18, Wilma had a central pressure of 980 millibars (28.93 inches). At noon on October 19, Wilma had a central pressure of 882 millibars (26.04 inches), a pressure fall of 98 millibars (2.89 inches), breaking the previous record of 92 millibars (2.71 inches) set by Super Typhoon Forrest in the Western Pacific in 1983. Some sources, however, say that Forrest's pressure was lower than originally measured (876 mb instead of 883 mb). This fact would imply that Forrest retains the record with a pressure fall of 100mb in 24 hours, and thus this uncertainty is noted here.

In addition, Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Emily, both in July, reached 930 mb and 929 mb, respectively, the two strongest storms on record in July.

Katrina was also the third most intense hurricane on record to make landfall in the United States in terms of pressure (918 mbar), behind the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969.

When Rita reached Category 5 intensity on September 21, 25 days after Katrina, it became only the third time in recorded history (and the first time since 1961) that there had been two Category 5 hurricanes in a single season. When Wilma became a Category 5 storm on October 19, the 2005 season became the first that had three Category 5 storms. In addition, Emily reached 155 mph and was on the Category 4/5 boundary at its peak.

Other records

Hurricane Vince was the farthest north and east that a tropical storm has ever formed in the Atlantic basin since records have been kept. It was also the first tropical storm on record to make landfall on Spain, the Iberian Peninsula and mainland Europe.

2005 storm names

Main Article: List of tropical cyclone names

The following names were used for tropical storms and hurricanes that formed in the North Atlantic in 2005. This was the same list used for the 1999 season, with the exceptions of Franklin and Lee, which replaced Floyd and Lenny. The names not retired from this list will be used again in the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. Storms were named Franklin, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince, Wilma, and Beta for the first time in 2005 (the name Alpha had been previously used in 1972 for a sub-tropical storm, but this is the first time it has been used in this way).

Vince and Wilma were the first named 'V' and 'W' storms ever in the Atlantic basin. The naming of Wilma exhausted the 2005 list, the first time in Atlantic naming history that all names in the list have been used. Bold names are currently active.

  • Harvey
  • Irene
  • Jose
  • Katrina
  • Lee
  • Maria
  • Nate

On October 22, 2005, Tropical Depression Twenty-five strengthened into Tropical Storm Alpha. This is the first time in Atlantic hurricane history that Greek letters have been used due to the exhaustion of the primary list. Additional tropical storms that form will continue to be named after letters of the Greek alphabet. The next three storms, if they form, would be named Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon.

Names to be retired will be announced by the World Meteorological Organization in the spring of 2006. Any statement about retired names made before then is purely speculative. Based on patterns in past name retirements, several storms this year—potentially a record number—are strong candidates for retirement. The record for the most names retired after a single season is four (held by the 1955, 1995, and 2004 seasons).

See also

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