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Hurricane Frances

Updated on August 24, 2015

No 9 in the World's Worst hurricanes...

The third major hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Frances did the most hurricane damage after making landfall in the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Panhandle.

Hurricane Frances is perhaps most notable for the tornado outbreak it spawned, rivalling Hurricane Beulah in this regard.

Hurricane Preparation for Hurricane Frances

On August 29th, a tropical storm watch was issued to the Leeward Islands, and then upgraded to a warning later that night, and expanded to include the islands of Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Nevis, Saba, St. Kitts, St. Uestatius, and St. Maarten. A hurricane watch was then issued for the northern British Virgin Islands as well as to the northern United States Virgin Islands, Culebra, and Vieques.

On the morning of the next day, the hurricane watch was, in most areas, downgraded to a tropical storm watch, with warnings being entirely dropped on some islands as of the morning of August 31st.

Then, on the first of September, hurricane warnings were issued throughout the Bahamas with hurricane watches put in place along the lower east coast of Florida, with tropical storm warnings being issued to the Florida Keys.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency on September first, KennedySpaceCenter was closed down, and 41 counties received evacuation orders, making this the largest evacuation in the history of the state with a total of 2.8 million people urged to find safer shelters.

Hurricane Tracking for Hurricane Frances

Hurricane Frances began as a tropical wave moving west off of the coast of Africa on the 21st of August. It continued west for a number of days, remaining somewhat disorganized.

The depression strengthened to a tropical storm on the 25th of August, 1,420 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.

Now named Frances, the hurricane storm continued intensifying on the 26th of August, and quickly developed an eye, reaching hurricane status late in the afternoon of that day.

The hurricane storm began moving west by northwest on August 27th, reaching peak intensity of 135 miles per hour winds on August 28th, and continued travelling west on the 29th.

After a short lived weakening, the hurricane storm passed over the Bahamas, directly over San SalvadorIsland, and weakened to category 3 by 2 PM. On September 3rd, the storm then passed within the vicinity of AbacoIsland, and directly over Grand Bahama while losing strength.

Parts of South Florida experienced squalls as Hurricane Frances lost speed, travelling at five to ten miles per hour across the Gulf Stream between the Bahamas and Florida, and became a stable category 2 hurricane while battering the east coast of Florida between West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce on September fourth.

On the fifth, Frances made landfall on the Florida coast on HutchinsonIsland, emerging in the Gulf of Mexico near Tamp after becoming a tropical storm. It made second landfall near St. Marks, and headed inland, turning into a tropical depression and causing heavy rainfall, but doing no further major hurricane damage. It finally dissipated after turning northeast into Quebec, Canada.

Hurricane Track for Hurricane Frances

Hurricane Damage for Hurricane Frances

The hurricane storm struck on Labor Day weekend, traditionally the last summer vacation weekend in the US, meaning that the first effects of the hurricane storm were economic.

The storm occurred in the wake of the recent Hurricane Charley, and many tourists heading to South Carolina or Florida cancelled their hotel reservations. This simply dashed many hopes of recovering from the previous hurricane by way of a strong tourist season.

The total monetary damages caused by Hurricane Frances are estimated at around nine billion dollars, making it the fourth costliest hurricane in US history as of that time.

In the Bahamas, 75% of the island chain last power for some hours during the storm, and wooden homes and trees were severely damaged.

In Florida, near the point of the first landfall, a number of structures were destroyed, with severe wind damage done to citrus groves and, for only the third time in history, Walt Disney World closed for a hurricane. The second time had occurred less than a month before.

Crops were damaged in Georgia, and the Carolinas experienced the weaker effects of the hurricane storm as an extratropical cyclone.

In total, there were seven direct casualties and forty two indirect casualties, and nearly fourteen billion dollars in hurricane damages done.

How Hurricane Frances Compares to Other Hurricanes

What is interesting about Hurricane Frances is that the actual number of fatalities was relatively low for such an intense hurricane storm. This could probably be attributed to the fact that, after Hurricane Charley just weeks earlier, the residents in the affected areas were prepared for the worst.

Hurricane Frances Aftermath and Hurricane Recovery

The name Frances was retired from the list of hurricane names due to how harmful Hurricane Frances was in terms of cost. In 2010, the name Fiona will take its place.

Incidentally, the country of France actually requested that the name Frances be retired and the WMO was prepped to do so, but the severity of the actual storm would have had them retire the name in any event.

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    • profile image

      chantal obren 7 years ago

      omfg that is not good

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      this one act of God truly is scary. the experience we had last September 26, 2009 was a great disaster not from a hurricane but from a typhoon.

    • sarovai profile image

      sarovai 8 years ago

      Hurricane vs Economy ; 9billion ; really a big amount. Fear ful Frances;

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Looks scary