Hurricane Gustav (2002)

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Hurricane Gustav
Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
HR Gustav 2002.jpg
Hurricane Gustav near peak intensity off the New England coast on September 11
Formed September 8, 2002
Dissipated September 15, 2002
( Extratropical after September 12)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained:100 mph (155 km/h)
Lowest pressure 960 mbar (hPa); 28.35 inHg
Fatalities 4 total
Damage $340,000 (2002 USD)
Areas affected East Coast of the United States, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada
Part of the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Gustav was a Category 2 hurricane that paralleled the East Coast of the United States in September 2002 during the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the seventh named storm and first hurricane of the season. Initially a subtropical depression north of the Bahamas, Gustav passed slightly to the east of the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a tropical storm before moving northeastward and making two landfalls in Atlantic Canada as a Category 1 hurricane. The storm was responsible for one death and $100,000 in damage, mostly in North Carolina. The interaction between Gustav and a non-tropical system produced strong winds that caused an additional $240,000 (2002 USD) in damage in New England, but this damage was not directly attributed to the hurricane.

East Coast of the United States Coastline in the United States

The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, the Atlantic Coast, and the Atlantic Seaboard, is the coastline along which the Eastern United States meets the North Atlantic Ocean. The coastal states that have shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean are, from north to south, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

2002 Atlantic hurricane season Summary of the relevant tropical storms

The 2002 Atlantic hurricane season was a borderline-average Atlantic hurricane season. It officially started on June 1, 2002 and ended on November 30, dates which conventionally limit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones develop in the Atlantic Ocean. The season produced fourteen tropical cyclones, of which twelve developed into named storms; four became hurricanes, and two attained major hurricane status. While the season's first cyclone did not develop until July 14, activity quickly picked up; the 2002 season tied with 2010 in which a record number of tropical storms, eight, developed in the month of September. It ended early however, with no tropical storms forming after October 6—a rare occurrence caused partly by El Niño conditions. The most intense hurricane of the season was Hurricane Isidore with a minimum central pressure of 934 mbar, although Hurricane Lili attained higher winds and peaked at Category 4 whereas Isidore only reached Category 3. The season's low activity is reflected in the low cumulative accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 67. ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so low number reflects the small number of strong storms and preponderance of tropical storms.

Outer Banks barrier islands in North Carolina

The Outer Banks is a 200-mile-long (320 km) string of barrier islands and spits off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, on the east coast of the United States. They cover most of the North Carolina coastline, separating Currituck Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.

Contents

Gustav spent the early part of its existence as a subtropical storm, and was the first such storm to be named from the current lists by the National Hurricane Center. Previously, subtropical storms were not given names. [1] The cyclone was also the latest-forming first hurricane of the season since 1941.

Subtropical cyclone

A subtropical cyclone is a weather system that has some characteristics of a tropical and an extratropical cyclone.

National Hurricane Center division of the United States National Weather Service

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is the division of the United States' National Weather Service responsible for tracking and predicting tropical weather systems between the Prime Meridian and the 140th meridian west poleward to the 30th parallel north in the northeast Pacific Ocean and the 31st parallel north in the northern Atlantic Ocean. The agency, which is co-located with the Miami branch of the National Weather Service, is situated on the campus of Florida International University in University Park, Florida.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale Gustav 2002 track.png
Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

An area of disturbed weather in association with a weak surface trough and a stronger upper-level trough between the Bahamas and Bermuda developed on September 6. [2] High pressure ridging strengthened by Tropical Storm Fay caused the trough to become more organized and close off into a broad non-tropical low on September 7. [2] By September 8, the system had developed enough convection near its center of circulation to be classified Subtropical Depression Eight while located southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. [2] Later that day, data from a Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft indicated that the system had strengthened into a subtropical storm, and the depression was upgraded to Subtropical Storm Gustav. [3]

Trough (meteorology) elongated region of low atmospheric pressure

A trough is an elongated (extended) region of relatively low atmospheric pressure, often associated with fronts. Troughs may be at the surface, or aloft, or both under various conditions. Most troughs bring clouds, showers, and a wind shift, particularly following the passage of the trough. This results from convergence or "squeezing" which forces lifting of moist air behind the trough line.

Bermuda British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 1,070 km (665 mi) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; 1,236 km (768 mi) south of Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia; and 1,759 km (1,093 mi) northeast of Cuba. The capital city is Hamilton. Bermuda is self-governing, with its own constitution and its own government, which enacts local laws, while the United Kingdom retains responsibility for defence and foreign relations. As of July 2018, its population is 71,176, the highest of the British overseas territories.

Tropical Storm Fay (2002) Atlantic tropical storm in 2002

Tropical Storm Fay was the sixth named storm of the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season; it was a moderate tropical storm which caused flooding in parts of Texas and Mexico. In early September, a trough of low pressure moved south into the Gulf of Mexico, and became stationary. A low pressure center developed along this trough, and on September 5, a Hurricane Hunter airplane reported that the system had gained sufficient organization to be a tropical depression, 95 miles (153 km) southeast of Galveston. The depression drifted south-southwest while strengthening, reaching its peak strength of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) on the morning of September 6. The system then made an abrupt turn to the west-northwest, and remained steady in strength and course until landfall the next day, near Matagorda. The system weakened at a fast rate after landfall, but its circulation would not totally dissipate for three more days.

Gustav moved erratically to the west-northwest toward the North Carolina-South Carolina border over the next two days, it slowly strengthened, acquiring more tropical characteristics. On September 10, a poorly organized band of stronger winds developed around the center, and Gustav was designated a fully tropical storm [4] shortly before turning toward the north and brushing Cape Hatteras, then accelerating toward the northeast and away from the coast. [2] On September 11, while under the influence of a non-tropical system over New England, Gustav quickly strengthened into a hurricane, in a process similar to the intensification of Hurricane Michael in 2000. [2] Gustav reached its peak intensity of 100 mph (160 km/h) later that day. [2]

North Carolina State of the United States of America

North Carolina is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. North Carolina is the 28th-most extensive and the 9th-most populous of the U.S. states. The state is divided into 100 counties. The capital is Raleigh, which along with Durham and Chapel Hill is home to the largest research park in the United States. The most populous municipality is Charlotte, which is the second-largest banking center in the United States after New York City.

South Carolina State of the United States of America

South Carolina is a state in the Southeastern United States and the easternmost of the Deep South. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River.

Cape Hatteras cape in the United States

Cape Hatteras is a thin, broken strand of islands in North Carolina that arch out into the Atlantic Ocean away from the US mainland, then back toward the mainland, creating a series of sheltered islands between the Outer Banks and the mainland. For thousands of years these barrier islands have survived onslaughts of wind and sea. Long stretches of beach, sand dunes, marshes, and maritime forests create a unique environment where wind and waves shape the topography. A large area of the Outer Banks is part of a National Park, called the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It is also the nearest landmass on the US mainland to Bermuda, which is about 563 nautical miles to the east-southeast.

The hurricane began to slowly weaken and lose tropical characteristics on early September 12 as it moved over colder waters and encountered increasing wind shear. However, the storm was moving quickly enough to make landfall over Cape Breton, Nova Scotia as a Category 1 hurricane on September 12. [5] Later that morning, Gustav made a second landfall in Newfoundland and became extratropical shortly after. [6] The extratropical low continued moving slowly to the northeast before dissipating over the Labrador Sea on September 15. [2]

Wind shear

Wind shear, sometimes referred to as wind gradient, is a difference in wind speed or direction over a relatively short distance in the atmosphere. Atmospheric wind shear is normally described as either vertical or horizontal wind shear. Vertical wind shear is a change in wind speed or direction with change in altitude. Horizontal wind shear is a change in wind speed with change in lateral position for a given altitude.

Nova Scotia Province of Canada

Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime Provinces, and one of the four provinces that form Atlantic Canada. Its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest of Canada's ten provinces, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), including Cape Breton and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2016, the population was 923,598. Nova Scotia is Canada's second-most-densely populated province, after Prince Edward Island, with 17.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (45/sq mi).

Newfoundland (island) Island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Newfoundland is a large Canadian island off the east coast of the North American mainland, and the most populous part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It has 29 percent of the province's land area. The island is separated from the Labrador Peninsula by the Strait of Belle Isle and from Cape Breton Island by the Cabot Strait. It blocks the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, creating the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the world's largest estuary. Newfoundland's nearest neighbour is the French overseas community of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.

Preparations

Tropical Storm Gustav near the Outer Banks on September 10 Gustav 10 sept 2002 1540Z.jpg
Tropical Storm Gustav near the Outer Banks on September 10

On September 8, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center predicted that Gustav would approach the North Carolina coast, and issued a tropical storm watch from Cape Fear to the North Carolina – Virginia border. The tropical storm watch was upgraded to a tropical storm warning on September 9, and a new tropical storm watch was issued later that day for areas of southeastern Virginia, from the North Carolina – Virginia border to New Point Comfort. The new watch was upgraded to a tropical storm warning on September 10. As Gustav began to turn to the northeast and away from the Mid-Atlantic coast, the tropical storm warnings were gradually discontinued. The last warning was discontinued on September 11. [2]

Cape Fear (headland) landform

Cape Fear is a prominent headland jutting into the Atlantic Ocean from Bald Head Island on the coast of North Carolina in the southeastern United States. It is largely formed of barrier beaches and the silty outwash of the Cape Fear River as it drains the southeast coast of North Carolina through an estuary south of Wilmington. Cape Fear is formed by the intersection of two sweeping arcs of shifting, low-lying beach, the result of longshore currents which also form the treacherous, shifting Frying Pan Shoals, part of the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Virginia State of the United States of America

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U.S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million.

New Point Comfort is a point of land located in Mathews County at the tip of Virginia's Middle Peninsula in the lower Chesapeake Bay in the United States. It is the site of the New Point Comfort Natural Area Preserve and the New Point Comfort Light.

As Gustav approached Atlantic Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Hurricane Centre issued heavy rain and wind warnings for southern New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. [7]

Impact

North Carolina and Virginia

Total rainfall map of Gustav in North Carolina Gustav 2002 rainfall.gif
Total rainfall map of Gustav in North Carolina

Although the center of Gustav passed just to the east of Cape Hatteras, areas of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia experienced heavy rain and tropical storm force winds. Parts of the Outer Banks received 2–5 inches (50–125 mm) of rain and winds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h), and the Coast Guard station at Cape Hatteras reported a wind gust of 78 mph (125 km/h). The storm produced storm surges of 3–6 feet (1.8 m) along the Outer Banks, and 1–3 feet (0.91 m) along the southeastern coast of Virginia. These surges, combined with strong winds and high sea swells, resulted in minor flooding, mainly in Ocracoke and Hatteras Village, North Carolina. [8] A weak waterspout also touched down on Silver Lake near Ocracoke and moved onshore, but only minor roof damage was reported. [9] Sporadic power outages were also reported. [10] One person died after suffering injuries in the high surf, and 40 other people had to be rescued from riptides and storm surges. [2] Damage in the region amounted to $100,000 (2002 USD). [2]

New Jersey

Although the center of Gustav remained well offshore, the difference in pressure between it and a high pressure area over the central United States caused strong winds in areas of New Jersey on September 11. Wind gusts ranged from 35–45 mph (55–70 km/h), with stronger winds reported near the coast. [11] A maximum wind gust of 60 mph (100 km/h) was reported at Keansburg. [11] The strong winds downed trees and power lines throughout the eastern half of the state, damaging homes and blocking streets. At least 14,000 homes in the vicinity of Burlington and Ocean Counties were left without power. [11] In West Windsor Township, a man was killed when the upper section of a concrete wall he was working on blew over and crushed him. The other death occurred in West Amwell Township, where a tree limb fell on two elderly women, killing one and injuring the other. Elsewhere, while there were reports of trees falling on vehicles, no other serious injuries or deaths were reported. [11]

New York and New England

The interaction between Gustav and the non-tropical system caused strong winds that affected areas of coastal New England, mainly in eastern New York and Massachusetts. Some areas reported storm-force wind gusts of over 55 mph (90 km/h), and a maximum wind gust of 67 mph (108 km/h) was reported by a weather spotter in Catskill, New York. [12] Wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 km/h) were reported in areas of Massachusetts. [13] The winds downed trees and power lines, and several homes and cars were damaged by fallen trees. Over 29,000 homes were left without power in eastern New York, [12] and 19,000 homes lost power in Massachusetts. [13] In all, the winds caused $240,000 (2002 USD) in damage, [13] but this damage was not directly attributed to Gustav in the National Hurricane Center's analysis. [2]

In the New York City area, a peak wind gust of 60 mph (100 km/h) was reported at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The winds caused some minor roof damage to buildings, and forced officials in New York City to cordon off parts of Manhattan as debris ranging from wrapping paper to crushed soda cans was blown about. This debris injured four people, one critically, [14] and disrupted a 9/11 memorial service, though it continued as planned. [15]

Sustained winds of 25–35 mph (40–55 km/h), with gusts up to 55 mph (90 km/h), were reported throughout Long Island. [14] Damage on the island was mainly limited to downed trees and power lines, although the Long Island Power Authority reported that at least 93,000 homes lost power during the day on September 11. One person was killed when his boat capsized in the Long Island Sound. [14]

Hurricane Gustav near its first landfall in Nova Scotia on September 12 HR Gustav 20020912.jpg
Hurricane Gustav near its first landfall in Nova Scotia on September 12

Atlantic Canada

Despite gradually losing its tropical characteristics, Gustav brought heavy rain, storm and hurricane-force winds, and storm surges to areas of Atlantic Canada for several days. Strong winds knocked down trees and damaged docks in Nova Scotia, [2] and a wind gust of 75 mph (122 km/h) was reported on Sable Island. Gusts to over 60 mph (100 km/h) were reported in Newfoundland for several days after the center of Gustav moved out of the area. Rainfall amounts generally ranged from 0.3–2.7 inches (10–70 mm), with a maximum of 4 inches (102 mm) in Ashdale, Nova Scotia. Several locations set new daily rainfall records. [5] Localized flooding was reported in areas of Prince Edward Island, and 4,000 people in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island were left without power. Despite the heavy rain and wind, there were no reports of deaths or significant damage in Atlantic Canada. [16]

Naming and records

Gustav was the first subtropical storm to be given a name from the current name lists by the National Hurricane Center. Prior to the 2002 season, Atlantic subtropical storms were either not named or given a number from a separate numbering list than tropical cyclones. [1]

When Gustav attained hurricane status on September 11, it became the latest first hurricane to form in any season since the 1941 season, when the first hurricane developed on September 16. According to climatology, an average of three hurricanes form by September 11 of each year. [5]

See also

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