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Florida Hurricanes 1997 Through 1995

We in Florida were certainly lucky from the years 1995 through 1997. Perhaps it was the calm before the storm (so to speak). I will say that 1995 gave us a wee bit much in the way of hurricanes...although I also consider just one a wee bit too much these days!

There was a joke where I worked where we wouldn't mind a few "hurricane days". What we meant is that while we were able to leave work and go home, prepare our homes and watch the news, the storms would turn at the last moment and miss us. We didn't realize that less than 10 years later we would come to dread those hurricane days, as the storms didn't turn the way they were supposed to.

To give us a run-down on all the storms that brushed Florida -- where they started, what paths did they take and so on -- I'm pleased to present the following article by Bruce Supranowicz. There's a lot of fascinating information here for weather-watchers!

Storms for these years are: Allison, Erin, Jerry, Opal, Josephine and Danny.

1995: Allison, Erin, Jerry and Opal

Allison formed late on June 2 as a tropical depression about 350 miles south of the western tip of Cuba. This system started moving towards the north-northwest and north while it intensified into a tropical storm and went into the Yucatan Channel, situated between Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula, as a 60-MPH tropical storm late on June 3.

As it emerged into the southeast Gulf of Mexico, Allison became a minimal hurricane, with 75-MPH sustained winds. It continued northward while staying well west of the Florida peninsula. Early on June 5, Allison turned towards the north-northeast as it passed about 180 miles to the west of Tampa. It also decreased in intensity to a 70-MPH tropical storm.

As Allison approached the Florida panhandle, it veered a little more towards the northeast and moved ashore just east of Panama City during the afternoon of June 5, still sporting 70-MPH winds. Power outages and heavy rain occurred in the eastern Florida panhandle and the extreme northern portion of the Florida peninsula. Allison moved into Georgia as a weakening tropical storm and eventually moving offshore near Cape Hatteras before heading northeastward out into the open Atlantic.

Erin formed quickly in the eastern Bahamas late on July 30. It intensified steadily and became a hurricane a day later. It first appeared as if Erin might curve towards the north and bypass the Florida east coast entirely, but it veered more towards the west-northwest while about 240 miles east of the Miami area.

At that time, Erin had increased in strength to 85 MPH. Erin plowed steadily towards the east-central Florida coast and went ashore early on August 2 near Vero Beach with winds of 85 MPH. This system crossed the peninsula, still moving towards the west-northwest, while weakening into a tropical storm.

During that time, there were some power outages and downed trees, particularly within 50 miles of where Erin had come ashore on the east coast. The storm emerged into the Gulf of Mexico north of Tampa later that day with 60-MPH sustained winds, but Florida’s problems from Erin were not finished.

Once over the Gulf of Mexico, Erin strengthened into a hurricane again and headed towards the western Florida panhandle. The hurricane, with 90-MPH winds, moved ashore near Pensacola on August 3 and caused heavy rain, strong winds and power outages in the western panhandle as far east as Panama City. It eventually moved into Alabama and Mississippi as it weakened into a depression, bring heavy rain to parts of those states.

Jerry formed as a tropical depression on August 22 while it was only about 175 miles southeast of Miami. This system moved generally towards the north-northwest and appeared as if it would just brush the southeast coast of Florida but instead veered towards the west-northwest when it was only about 25 miles east of West Palm Beach.

Jerry intensified into a minimal tropical storm by the time it moved inland near Jupiter on August 23, and moved generally northwestward from there. Once inland, this system started to weaken and became a depression again. The only effect from Jerry was heavy rain within sixty or seventy miles on either side of its path.

Opal formed as a tropical depression in the extreme northwestern portion of the Caribbean Sea, just east of the resort area of Cozumel on September 27. The depression moved very slowly towards the west-northwest across the Yukatan Peninsula, but failed to weaken, possibly due to its proximity to the northern coast of Yucatan.

After Opal emerged over the Gulf of Mexico on September 29, it started to strengthen and finally became a tropical storm on September 30 when it was about 50 miles west of the Yucatan Peninsula. While it initially appeared to be heading towards the eastern coast of Mexico, upper-level winds ahead of a strong cold front pushing towards the eastern U.S. caused Opal to turn north, then north-northeastward.

The tropical storm started to intensify more rapidly and it became a hurricane on October 2 while still in the south-central Gulf of Mexico. Opal continue to intensify as it approached the northeastern Gulf coast and peaked as a category 4 hurricane with 150-MPH winds early on October 4 while it was about 200 miles a little west of due south from Mobile, Alabama.

Gulf coast residents near its projected path hurriedly prepared for a strike from a major hurricane, but then Opal started to weaken. It continued to weaken gradually while still heading north-northeast and arrived near Pensacola as a 105-MPH category 2 hurricane at night on October 4. Strong winds and heavy rain, along with a storm surge hit the western Florida panhandle. Widespread power outages occurred there also, as the hurricane continued inland. Opal weakened while continuing north-northeastward over the eastern U.S. while bringing rain.

1996: Josephine

The hurricane season of 1996 wasn’t much of a factor for Floridians. Josephine formed as a tropical depression in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on October 6. It initially started moving towards the north-northeast, but veered towards the east the next day.

Josephine took its time intensifying, as it didn’t reach tropical storm status until October 8, about 380 miles south-southwest on New Orleans, in the central Gulf of Mexico. At that time, the storm started to intensify a little faster and turned more towards the northeast.

By late on October 7, Josephine was a strong tropical storm with 70-MPH sustained winds, located about 50 miles south-southeast of Panama City, still moving towards the northeast. While remaining just below hurricane strength, the storm’s center moved ashore in the big bend area of Florida a few hours later, well north of Cedar Key.

Josephine started to weaken and continued northeastward, eventually affecting the Carolina coastline, Cape Cod and Nova Scotia. The areas from north of Tampa to Panama City on the west coast and from St. Augustine northward on the east coast of Florida received heavy rain and gusty winds, as well as inland areas from the Georgia state line to the Ocala/Gainesville region.

1997: Danny Sideswiped Us

Danny formed on July 16, about 150 miles south of Morgan City, Louisiana. It assumed an east-northeasterly movement and intensified steadily. By July 18, Danny was a hurricane with 80-MPH winds, located about 70 miles southwest of Mobile, Alabama.

The hurricane came ashore near Mobile Bay, just west of the Alabama/Florida state line on July 19 with 75-MPH winds and weakened further as it continued in a general northeasterly direction. Much of the Florida panhandle from Panama City westward received heavy rain and gusty winds from Danny, with some power outages in the western Florida panhandle.

Danny eventually weakened into a depression as it continued to move northeastward and emerged off the Virginia/North Carolina coast on July 24 before regenerating into a tropical storm. The storm then continued northeastward over the Atlantic, a threat only to shipping.

Wow -- that's some write-up! Thanks a bunch, Bruce, and you can check out more of his "storm stories" on the Articles page.


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