Definitions

Atlantic hurricane season

1995 Atlantic hurricane season

The 1995 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1, 1995, and lasted until November 30, 1995. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin.

The 1995 season was extremely active, largely due to favorable conditions including a La Niña and warm sea surface temperatures. Nineteen named storms formed during the season, making it the third most active on record behind the 2005 and 1933 seasons and tied with 1887 season. There were also eleven storms that reached hurricane strength, again the third most hurricanes in one season after the 1969 and 2005 seasons.

There were also a number of destructive hurricanes during the season, totalling to $11.5 billion (2005 US dollars) in damages and over 100 deaths. Hurricane Erin caused substantial damage in Florida. Felix caused heavy beach erosion in the northeast United States, and produced strong waves that drowned eight. Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn caused billions of dollars in damages in the Leeward Islands and Bermuda. Hurricane Opal, the strongest storm of the season, caused very heavy damage along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Hurricane Roxanne, a rare late-season major hurricane, caused heavy damage when it made landfall in Quintana Roo.

Seasonal activity

One reason for the high level of activity was a strong La Niña pattern; in La Niña years, there are weaker upper-level westerly winds, resulting in less wind shear and a more conducive environment to tropical cyclone formation. Warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures and lower sea level pressures were also highly favorable. These conditions also produced a favorable environment near the coast of the Africa, which is the area that often spawns Cape Verde-type hurricanes; in fact, nearly all of the 1995 storms - with the exception of just two - originated from tropical waves off the west African coastline.

There were five major hurricanes for the season, and as many as five storms existed from August 22 to September 1 — Humberto, Iris, Jerry, Karen, and Luis.

A total of seven storms formed in August — Felix, Gabrielle, Humberto, Iris, Jerry, Karen, and Luis — tying the 1933 record for most in the month; this record was broken in the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season when eight named storms formed during August.

This season also went down to the 'T' named storm. Since the NHC started naming hurricanes, a season had not gotten this far in the list before, and would not again until Tropical Storm Tammy was named during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. The 1995 season launched the Atlantic Basin into its current period of high activity.

Storms

Hurricane Allison

Allison formed from a tropical depression that was detected southeast of Cuba on June 2, one of the earliest storm formations within a season on record. Continuing on its northwestern heading, Allison strengthened into a tropical storm on June 3, bringing steady rains and gusty winds to Cuba. Despite upper-level winds, the storm continued to strengthen and Allison became a hurricane on June 4. Hurricane Allison then weakened to a tropical storm before landfall east of Carrabelle, Florida on June 5; this made Allison the third-earliest storm to make U.S landfall. Allison moved inland and continued northeast, becoming an extratropical storm. The storm skirted the east coast, bringing gusty winds and heavy rains, before passing Nova Scotia as it turned northwestward and dissipating west of Greenland.

Allison killed 3 people and caused over $2 million (1995 USD) in damage.

Tropical Storm Barry

The NHC surface analysis found a weak 1019 mbar frontal low between Bermuda and South Carolina.The satellite imagery also revealed that a low-level cloud system center had become better defined just to the west of a small cluster of deep convection, and it is estimated that the frontal low transformed into Tropical Depression Two near 1800 UTC July 6. T.D. Two became a named storm on July 7 off the coast of South Carolina and was given the name Barry. The tropical storm then headed north, making landfall on the eastern tip of Nova Scotia on July 9 and was declared extratropical the next day. No damage or fatalities were reported in association with Barry.

Tropical Storm Chantal

Chantal originated from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on July 5. The wave developed a circulation and was declared a tropical depression on July 12. The depression quickly strengthened into Tropical Storm Chantal. Chantal threatened The Bahamas, but re-curved to the north and did not directly affect The Bahamas. Chantal was declared extratropical on July 20 after it affected American shipping lines. No damage or fatalities were reported in association with Chantal.

Tropical Storm Dean

On July 28, the depression that would become Tropical Storm Dean formed out of a trough in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. It moved westward, and strengthened into Tropical Storm Dean just from the Texas coastline on the 30th. Dean made landfall early on the 31st near Freeport with an intensity of 45 mph and a central pressure of 999 mbar. The storm slowly weakened as it moved northwestward, dissipating on August 2 in the center of the state. Dean dropped heavy rainfall amounting to nearly in Monroe City. The rainfall resulted in moderate localized damage and the evacuation of 20 families in Chambers County, but the storm caused no injuries or deaths.

Hurricane Erin

A westward-moving tropical wave, which at times appeared to already be a tropical cyclone, did not develop a closed circulation until July 31, when Tropical Storm Erin formed over the Bahamas. Erin moved to the northwest and strengthened, reaching winds of at its first landfall near Vero Beach, Florida on August 1. Erin downed a number of power lines, but did not cause tremendous damage. The storm emerged over the Gulf the next day, and made landfall a second time on August 3 at Pensacola Beach, Florida, with winds having intensified to 100 mph.

Damage in the United States totaled over $700 million. Six drowning deaths are attributed to Erin off the coasts of Florida and the Bahamas.

Tropical Depression Six

The southern part of the tropical wave that spawned Tropical Storm Erin continued into the Caribbean Sea in late July. By August 4, the system had made its way into the Bay of Campeche. The system was named Tropical Depression Six on August 5, and the system slowly moved over Mexico and dissipated on August 6, never reaching tropical storm strength. No reports of damage or casualties have been received.

Hurricane Felix

The season continued with Cape Verde-type Hurricane Felix, which was named on August 8. It became the first Category 4 hurricane since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 after reaching its peak intensity of 140 mph. Felix would later become extratropical, and was tracked heading towards Norway.

Although it never made landfall, Felix caused eight deaths due to drowning along the coasts of North Carolina and New Jersey. Felix is credited with delaying Bermuda's 1995 independence referendum when it passed within of the island.

Tropical Storm Gabrielle

While Felix was approaching hurricane strength, a tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico organized itself into Tropical Storm Gabrielle. Gabrielle strengthened rapidly, but was too close to land to reach hurricane strength. Landfall was in Mexico, near La Pesca, Tamaulipas, on August 11. No death reports were associated with Gabrielle, and damage was minimal.

Hurricane Humberto

Humberto was a Cape Verde-type storm that formed from an African tropical wave on August 22. Humberto became a strong Category 2 hurricane and briefly had a Fujiwhara interaction with Hurricane Iris. Humberto stayed in the open ocean and was absorbed by a low pressure system on September 1 while accelerating northward.

Hurricane Iris

Iris formed on August 22, twelve hours after Humberto. Unlike Humberto, Iris would approach land, which meteorologists say was probably due to its Fujiwhara interaction with Humberto. Iris weakened to tropical storm strength, and travelled up the chain of Leeward Islands. Damage reports were sparse, but four deaths were reported on Martinique due to mud slides.

On August 30, Iris began its second Fujiwhara interaction, this time with Tropical Storm Karen which it absorbed on September 3. The storm quickly became extratropical, and its motion accelerated. On September 7, Iris reached western Europe as an extratropical storm with wind speeds still at .

Tropical Storm Jerry

Tropical Storm Jerry formed just off the Florida coast near Andros Island on August 23 as Tropical Depression Eleven. It made landfall later that day near Jupiter, Florida, with 40 mph winds shortly after reaching tropical storm status. After drifting across the Florida peninsula, Jerry emerged over the Gulf of Mexico, but quickly headed back inland. Jerry dissipated on August 28.

While wind damage was relatively mild and the storm was poorly organized, Jerry caused extensive flooding through Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Six deaths are attributed to flooding caused by Jerry, and the total damage cost estimate was $46.9 million (1995 USD).

Tropical Storm Karen

A tropical wave moved off of Africa on August 23 and gradually developed a broad low pressure area. It gradually organized, and developed into twelfth tropical depression of the season on August 26. Located in an environment of little wind shear, the convection slowly organized, and on August 28 it intensified into Tropical Storm Karen.

After tracking steadily west-northwestward, the wake from nearby Hurricane Humberto turned Karen northward, and shortly thereafter began to encounter wind shear from the outflow of Hurricane Iris. Despite this, the storm strengthened slightly to attain peak winds of 50 mph (80 km/h). Due to its Fujiwhara effect with Iris, Karen steadily weakened while revolving around the larger circulation of Iris. On September 2, the storm degenerated into a tropical depression, and the next day Karen was absorbed by Iris a short distance to the east of Bermuda. Karen never affected land; the highest strike probability for the storm was for Bermuda and Halifax, Nova Scotia, both of which were assessed to have a 2% chance of being passed by Karen within 65 miles.

Hurricane Luis

A typical Cape Verde-type hurricane, Luis formed on August 29, becoming the fourth concurrent named storm in the Atlantic basin. Luis would intensify as it travelled across the Atlantic, and satellite estimates placed it at Category 4 intensity on September 3. By September 5, Luis had reached the Leeward Islands, and the center passed directly over Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. From the hundreds of yachts that took shelter in the lagoon only 5% were not sunk or thrown ashore. It would eventually head north and became a strong extratropical storm over Newfoundland.

Luis is reported to have killed 16 in the Leeward Islands and 1 in Newfoundland. Damage was substantial, with upwards of half the structures reported damaged on many islands. Estimated damage was $2.5 billion (1995 USD). RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, en route to New York early in the morning of September 11, encountered an 87 foot (29 m) freak wave generated by Hurricane Luis. Damage to the ship was minor, and no passengers or crew were injured.

Tropical Depression Fourteen

Tropical Depression Fourteen developed from a distinct tropical wave which exited the coast of Africa on September 4. The system gradually organized and became a tropical depression on September 9. The depression moved toward the northwest and encountered strong upper-level winds which removed the convection from the low-level center on September 13.

Hurricane Marilyn

Marilyn formed late in the UTC day on September 13, and reached hurricane strength soon thereafter. Marilyn struck the Lesser Antilles on September 14 at Category 1 strength, and intensified to nearly Category 3 strength by the time it reached the U.S. Virgin Islands. A Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance flight reported hail, which is unusual for tropical cyclones. After heading north past Bermuda, Marilyn weakened and became extratropical on September 22.

Marilyn is directly responsible for eight deaths, most due to drowning on boats or offshore. Ten thousand people were left homeless on the island of St. Thomas, and estimated damages were set at $1.5 billion (1995 USD), making it the most destructive hurricane to hit the Virgin Islands since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Hurricane Noel

The origin of Hurricane Noel occurred on September 26, when a tropical depression formed hundreds of miles west of the Cape Verde islands. The cyclone moved in a northward direction for its duration, becoming a tropical storm on September 27 and reaching hurricane strength on September 28. Noel was eventually absorbed by a cold front on October 8 while moving eastward to the south of the Azores.

This cyclone marked the second time in the Atlantic basin that the 'N' name was used since naming began in 1950, the previous being Nana in the 1990 season. Since 1995, the 'N' name has been used almost every season.

Hurricane Opal

Hurricane Opal was the strongest storm of the season, and the first to receive an 'O' name since Atlantic hurricane naming began in 1950. The tropical wave that would become Opal emerged from the west coast of Africa on September 11. The wave would stay disorganized, and did not begin strengthening until it neared the Yucatán Peninsula, becoming a tropical depression on September 27 while south-southeast of Cozumel. The depression slowly moved over the Yucatan for the next several days, eventually emerging over the Bay of Campeche where it was officially upgraded to tropical storm strength. It rapidly intensified and began moving north across the Gulf of Mexico. Opal reached Category 4 hurricane status, with sustained winds of , but weakened to a minimal Category 3 hurricane by the time of landfall at Pensacola Beach, Florida on October 3.

Opal killed 59 people: 31 from flooding in Guatemala, 19 in Mexico from flooding, and 9 in the United States. The United States deaths include one in Florida by a tornado, and the other eight from falling trees in Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina. No deaths were reported from storm surge, which is unusual due to the storm's strength and the location of landfall. Opal caused $3 billion ($4.3 billion in 2004 USD) in damage, making it the eighteenth costliest U.S. hurricane when adjusted for inflation, as of the completion of the 2004 hurricane season.,

Tropical Storm Pablo

Tropical Storm Pablo was a Cape Verde-type tropical storm which was named on October 5 and did not affect land. Pablo moved westward across the southern Central Atlantic throughout its lifetime, dissipating on October 8.

Pablo was the first of three storms to be assigned a name beginning with 'P' since storm naming began in the Atlantic in 1950; the others were Peter in the 2003 season and Philippe in the 2005 season.

Hurricane Roxanne

Roxanne, the first storm to receive an 'R' name since Atlantic hurricane naming began in 1950, formed from a tropical depression in the western Caribbean on October 9. It was initially expected to pose a threat to Cuba; however, it turned west and rapidly intensified to Category 3 strength. The storm made landfall just north of Tulum, a small town on the Quintana Roo coast across from the island of Cozumel, with sustained winds near . Roxanne emerged over water in the Bay of Campeche as a minimal hurricane, and then meandered in a small area of the bay for almost a week. It eventually weakened to a depression and moved inland.

Roxanne resulted in 14 deaths, with five of them coming from the sinking of a petroleum work barge with 245 people on board. There was massive damage in Mexico across numerous states; the area had been affected by Opal a week before and all damage could not be sorted out from Opal and Roxanne. Damage was estimated at $1.5 billion (1995 USD).

Tropical Storm Sebastien

Tropical Storm Sebastien formed on October 21 about east of Barbados, but weakened to a tropical depression before approaching the U.S. Virgin Islands from the northeast. No damage was reported as a result of this system.. The remains of Sebastien caused up to four inches (102 mm) of rain in Puerto Rico. Sebastien was the first storm to be assigned a name beginning with 'S' since hurricane naming began in the Atlantic basin in 1950, and was the only one until Stan in the 2005 season.

Hurricane Tanya

The 1995 season ended with Hurricane Tanya, the first storm to be assigned a name beginning with 'T' since hurricane naming began in the Atlantic basin in 1950. Tanya formed on October 27 in the Central Atlantic. The cyclone initially displayed subtropical characteristics, including comma-shaped convection and winds extending well out from the center. It became more tropical on the 29th as it formed a small eye near the center, indicating it had become a hurricane. A cold front pushed the storm northward, then northeastward. Tanya became extratropical as it neared the Azores on November 2, and quickly crossed through the islands. The extratropical storm continued northeastward, eventually being absorbed by a non-tropical low pressure system on November 3.

Tanya was the first tropical cyclone to affect the Azores since Hurricane Charley in 1992. In the Azores, Tanya tore roofs off houses and downed trees, and light posts flew through houses and buildings. Only 1 death (by drowning) was reported, as well as several injuries. The Red Cross and the Portuguese government spent over $6 million (1995 USD) in repairs.[ARC Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal 1995] The islands of Faial, Pico, Terceira and São Jorge were hardest hit, where the storm sunk or damaged numerous boats. The storm also severely disrupted electricity and telecommunications, damaged several houses and caused moderate crop damage.

Accumulated Cyclone Energy Rating (ACE)

The table below shows the ACE for each storm in the season (to three significant digits). The ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed for, so hurricanes that lasted a long time (such as Luis) have higher ACEs. Luis was one of the very few hurricanes since 1950 to have an ACE of over 50 x 104 kt².

Source of data; Atlantic Hurricane Database with wind speed information in knots.

ACE (104 kt²) – Storm
1 53.9 Luis 8 11.1 Opal 15 2.45 Pablo
2 29.3 Felix 9 8.73 Tanya 16 2.12 Sebastien
3 22.7 Iris 10 7.32 Erin 17 1.39 Gabrielle
4 22.5 Humberto 11 6.53 Chantal 18 .612 Jerry
5 21.5 Marilyn 12 3.42 Karen 19 .282 Dean
6 16.2 Roxanne 13 3.16 Barry
7 11.1 Noel 14 3.08 Allison

Storm names

The following names were used for named storms that formed in the north Atlantic in 1995. The names not retired from this list were used again in the 2001 season. This is the same list used for the 1989 season except Humberto, which replaced Hugo. Storms were named Humberto, Luis, Marilyn, Noel, Opal, Pablo, Roxanne, Sebastien, and Tanya for the first time in 1995. Names that were not assigned are marked in (Van and Wendy were the only two in the season).

  • Humberto
  • Iris
  • Jerry
  • Karen
  • Luis
  • Marilyn
  • Noel
  • Opal
  • Pablo
  • Roxanne
  • Sebastien
  • Tanya
  • Retirement

    The World Meteorological Organization retired four names in the spring of 1996: Luis, Marilyn, Opal, and Roxanne. They were replaced in the 2001 season by Lorenzo, Michelle, Olga, and Rebekah. The 1995 season was tied with the 1955 season and 2004 season for the most storm names retired after a single season until the 2005 season, when five names were retired.

    See also

    References

    Further reading

    • Landsea, Christopher W.; et al. (1998). "The Extremely Active 1995 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Environmental Conditions and Verification of Seasonal Forecasts". Monthly Weather Review 126 (5): 1174–1193.

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