What surprised scientists about Hurricane Floyd? The overall amount of rain fell was very low for a storm. There were no large fish kills. The wave heights were higher than expected for a storm. Scientists didn't expect the center of the storm to cross into Canada because they use different criteria than we do for determining intensity.
The rain from Hurricane Floyd did not come in a single deluge like those from recent hurricanes such as Isabel, Karl, and Rita. Instead, it came in several bursts. Scientists used to think that tropical cyclones brought high winds and heavy rains at once over most of their affected region. But now they know that this doesn't always happen. Sometimes the wind comes first and the rain follows later. This was what happened with Hurricane Floyd. It started out as a strong tropical storm on September 23rd. A few hours later it became a hurricane. On September 24th, it began to rain heavily. And it kept on raining for five more days. Finally, on September 29th, the last day of its existence, the storm reached its peak strength with sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. That's slightly stronger than a major hurricane but less intense than an extratropical cyclone. After that, it started to go down hill quickly. Within 12 hours, it lost its identity as a tropical cyclone.
The floods caused by Hurricane Floyd had discernible short-term consequences on coastal waterways, including an increase in nutrient load and lower levels of oxygen and salt in estuaries. Flooding also destroyed or severely damaged over 1,000 miles of shoreline seawall and dunes, causing up to $150 million in damage to land areas that serve as natural protection from storms for waterfront property. The loss of this protective infrastructure could potentially lead to more severe flooding in the future.
Longer term effects would depend on how much sediment was carried by the floodwaters and whether it washed ashore. If enough sediment makes its way into sensitive wetlands, then it could cause problems for wildlife dependent on those wetlands for habitat. For example, if a large amount of sediment is deposited in a river downstream from where it overflowed its banks, then it could cause flooding issues for people living along the river but not if the sediment originates from sandbars that formed during high tides or strong winds.
Additionally, the destruction or severe damage to 1,000 miles of shoreline seawall and dunes affects the ability of coastal marshes to absorb wave energy and prevent erosion of land areas behind the barrier.
Storm Floyd was a Category 4 Cape Verde hurricane that made landfall in the Bahamas and along the East Coast of the United States. It was the sixth named storm of the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season, the fourth hurricane, and the third major hurricane. The name "Floyd" was chosen by the National Weather Service to honor American climatologist Fred L. Floyd.
As a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, Floyd caused catastrophic damage across portions of the Bahamas. Eighteen deaths were reported in the country and the Canadian government estimated damages in Canada at $90 million (1999 USD). In addition, the hurricane left thousands homeless and destroyed or severely damaged more than 6500 homes. Flooding from the hurricane also caused significant damage to agriculture and businesses throughout its path. In Florida, the hurricane brought strong winds and flooding to South Carolina's Lowcountry before moving inland over northern Georgia and southern North Carolina. There, it brought further wind damage and several landslides that blocked roads. Damage estimates in North Carolina exceeded $100 million and three people were killed. In total, 16 people were killed by Floyd either directly by the hurricane or indirectly due to fallen trees and broken glass.
The name "Floyd" has not been used since this storm and thus it is expected that it will never be used again to name a hurricane. This name will be retired after it has been used once more.
Floyd became stronger and became a hurricane on September 10. After moving through an area of unfavorable upper-level winds that momentarily weakened the system, Floyd quickly intensified into a major hurricane on September 12, then a category 4 storm on September 13. The next day, it made its closest approach to land (about 85 miles/140 km) when it passed near Bermuda, then continued north-northeastward toward Canada. This motion slowed the storm somewhat, but it still maintained its strength as a category 3 hurricane. On September 15, it made landfall near New Brunswick at that strength. Shortly thereafter, the hurricane began weakening rapidly due to increasing wind shear from a nearby cold front. By early on September 16, Floyd had degenerated into a severe thunderstorm activity group over New England.
By this time, the center of Floyd was over open water, so the system never regained its strength. On September 17, it meandered across the Atlantic Ocean for several more days before dissipating off the coast of France on September 20.
This is the most intense of any tropical cyclone to form in the Atlantic basin during 2009. The previous record holder was Gonzalo, which was a category 4 storm when it struck Colombia as a very strong hurricane in 1995. Before then, Felix in 1999 reached category 4 strength about 250 miles (400 km) east of Puerto Rico.
Floyd was one of the greatest Atlantic hurricanes of its strength ever recorded, with tropical storm-force winds spanning a diameter of 580 miles (930 kilometers) at its peak. While hitting the Bahamas, Hurricane Floyd hovered just below Category 5 for nearly 12 hours. The large circulation of Floyd dragged moisture from the ocean up into the atmosphere above it.
What is the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon? A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that forms over water and has sustained wind speeds of 74 mph or greater. A typhoon is a tropical cyclone that forms over land and has sustained wind speeds of at least 111 mph. Although typhoons are considered to be more powerful than hurricanes, many of them weaken before reaching land. Flooding caused by hurricanes can be very dangerous because floodwaters can carry away people who might otherwise be able to escape the storm's effects. Windblown materials such as trees and debris can damage property and injure people without causing death. Hurricanes can cause extensive damage even if they do not make landfall. Flooding, high winds, and rough seas typically result from hurricanes that affect land. However, floods, windstorms, and heavy rains are all associated with hurricanes that do not make landfall.
Hurricanes are classified by intensity using the Saffir-Simpson Scale, which ranges from 1 to 5. Storms rated 1 on the scale have sustained winds of 73 to 95 mph.
Hurricane Floyd claimed the lives of 57 people in eight states and the Bahamas. The bulk of these fatalities were caused by inland floods. The storm was thought to be the worst since Hurricane Agnes, which hit the eastern Atlantic coast as a Category 1 hurricane in 1972, killing 122 people. Flooding from Floyd damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes in North Carolina.
The National Weather Service has classified the damage caused by Floyd as being between severe and catastrophic. It noted that the number of deaths could have been much higher had it not been for the heroic efforts of many who went into dangerous conditions to rescue people trapped in their homes.
Floyd brought heavy rain, high winds, and flooding to portions of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. In addition to the 57 deaths, another 115 people were injured. Damage totaled $75 million across the Southeast. About 2 million people were without power at one point during the storm.
After making landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, on September 14 as a strong category 4 hurricane, Floyd moved inland over southern North Carolina and then turned northeast toward Pennsylvania. The storm dropped up to 20 inches of rain across parts of South Carolina and was responsible for the worst flooding in Georgia history. At least 33 people died in that state alone. Overall, the hurricane killed 57 people in eight states from Florida to New York.