10th Anniversary of Hurricane Frances


NASA MODIS satellite photo of Hurricane Frances at its peak intensity

On September 5, 2004, Hurricane Frances, the second hurricane to make landfall in Florida that record-breaking year, came ashore at Sewall’s Point.  Frances had followed Hurricane Charley in striking Florida by 23 days and was followed in turn by Hurricane Jeanne, hitting the same point three weeks later.  Hurricane Ivan completed the quadruple whammy on Florida a mere ten days after Jeanne.

Frances began as a African Easterly Wave on August 21, and became a classic Cape Verde-type hurricane as it trekked across the Atlantic’s Main Development Region gaining strength and organization.  Frances reached its peak intensity as it moved north of the island of Hispanola, with winds of 145 mph (233 km/hr).  It rampaged through the Bahama Islands as it slowly weakened, knocking out power to three quarters of the residents and causing some US$300 million in damage.  At the north end of the archipelago, the hurricane turned northwestward for its encounter with the Florida shore.  It struck in the early morning hours of Sept. 5th bringing Category-2 winds and heavy rain.  It picked up speed over Florida but managed to cause damage throughout most of central Florida, especially in areas already affected by Charley.  It dipped its toes briefly in the Gulf of Mexico before making another Florida landfall in the panhandle.  It moved northward before merging with an extratropical trough over the Ohio Valley.

Frances’ damage bill is estimated to be some US$9 billion, and caused 7 deaths directly and 42 indirectly.

NOAA flew 14 missions into Hurricane Frances, mostly Coupled Boundary Layer Air-Sea Transfer (CBLAST) and Synoptic Surveillance experiments.

Scientific articles by HRD personnel using Hurricane Frances data

  • Aberson, S. D., 2010:  10 years of hurricane synoptic surveillance (1997-2006).  Mon. Wea. Rev., 138, 1536-1549.
  • Aberson, S. D., 2008:  Large forecast degradations due to synoptic surveillance during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.  Mon. Wea. Rev., 136, 3138-3150.
  • Black, P. G., E. A. D’Asaro, W. M. Drennan, J. R. French, P. P. Niiler, T. B. Sanford, E. J. Terrill, E. J. Walsh and J. A. Zhang, 2007: Air-sea exchange in hurricanes:  Synthesis of observations from the Coupled Boundary Layer Air-Sea Transfer Experiment.  Bull. Amer. Met. Soc.,  88, 357-374.
  • Lonfat, M., R. Rogers, T. Marchok, and F. D. Marks Jr., 2007:  A parametric model for predicting hurricane rainfall.  Mon. Wea. Rev., 135, 3086-2097.
  • Lorsolo, S., J. L. Schroeder, P. Dodge, and F. Marks Jr., 2008:  An observational study of hurricane boundary layer small-scale coherent structures.  Mon. Wea. Rev., 136, 2871-2893.
  • Majumdar, S. J., S. D. Aberson, C. H. Bishop, R. Buizza, M. S. Peng, and C. A. Reynolds, 2006:  A comparison of adaptive observing guidance for Atlantic tropical cyclones.  Mon. Wea. Rev., 134, 2354-2372.
  • Powell, M. D., E. W. Uhlhorn, and J. D. Kepert, 2009:  Estimating maximum surface winds from hurricane reconnaissance measurements.  Wea. Forecast., 24, 868-883.
  • Zhang, J. A. and M. T. Montgomery, 2012:  Observational estimates of the horizontal eddy diffusivity and mixing length in the low-level region of intense hurricanes.  J. Atmos. Sci., 69, 1306-1316.
  • Zhang, J. A., P. Zhu, F. J. Masters, R. F. Rogers, and F. D. Marks, 2011:  On momentum transport and dissipative heating during hurricane landfalls.  J. Atmos. Sci., 68, 1397-1404.
  • Zhang, J. A., F. D. Marks, M. T. Montgomery, and S. Lorsolo, 2011:  An estimation of turbulent characteristics in the low-level region of intense hurricane Allen (1980) and Hugo (1989).  Mon. Wea. Rev., 139, 1447-1462.