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Florida Hurricanes 2006

After the hurricane-plagued years of 2004 and 2005, Florida took a breather in 2006 and experienced more normal tropical activity for the state.  What a relief for those of us who had been effected by the wild 2004 and 2005 seasons.  We did get two tropical storms, but fortunately, they only brought us much-needed rain and some gusty wind.  Whew!

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!


Alberto

The first storm of the season, Alberto, formed on June 10 as a tropical depression in the northwestern Caribbean, about 75 miles southwest of the western tip of Cuba. This was not an unusual event, as June storms normally form in that general area.

Alberto was typical of June storms, rather weak and not too well organized. The depression, with 35-MPH sustained winds, meandered northward into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and reached tropical storm status on June 11. Alberto turned towards the west-northwest briefly before resuming a more northerly course while about 350 miles west of Key West.

The tropical storm then started to turn towards the northeast and began to intensify. By midday on June 12, Alberto’s sustained winds had reached 70 MPH, just shy of hurricane force as it passed about 250 miles west of the Ft-Myers/Sarasota region. For awhile, it appeared as if Alberto might become a category 1 hurricane as it approached the big bend area of Florida’s panhandle.  However, the storm became disorganized and weakened, possibly because much of its circulation was already over land.

Alberto came ashore around midday on June 13, about 50 miles east of Panama City. The storm knocked down a few trees but other than spotty power outages in the eastern Florida panhandle, only brought gusty squalls to that area. The storm continued northeastward into Georgia, weakened into a tropical depression and then dissipated on June 14.

Ernesto

Ernesto began as a tropical disturbance east of the Lesser Antillies on August 23. This weather system crossed over the northern Windward Islands and emerged into the southeastern Caribbean Sea.

By late in the day on August 24, it had gained enough of a closed circulation and organization to be classified as a tropical depression. The depression moved generally towards the west-northwest and strengthened into a tropical storm on August 25.

As Ernesto passed about 225 miles south of the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, it turned more towards the northwest and intensified. The tropical storm threatened the Haiti/Eastern Cuba/Jamaica area and became a category 1 hurricane while passing near the southwestern tip of Haiti. Fortunately, the high mountain range over the southwestern portion of Haiti was close enough to much of Ernesto’s circulation to disrupt it.

The hurricane dropped back down to tropical storm status as it approached southeastern Cuba. By August 28, as Ernesto moved inland over that area, its sustained winds had fallen to 50 MPH, making it a rather weak tropical storm. The rugged terrain of eastern Cuba further disrupted the storm and by the time it emerged partially over water along the north coast of Cuba, its sustained winds had dropped down to 40 MPH, making it a minimal tropical storm.

Ernesto moved along and parallel to the northern coast of Cuba for almost a day before emerging more over open water early on August 29. South Floridians were watching Ernesto warily at that point, as the storm was predicted to intensify to hurricane status and hit South Florida. By that time, the tropical storm’s sustained winds had increased to 45 MPH and it was located about 275 miles southeast of Key West. Ernesto swerved more towards the north-northwest as expected, with South Florida in its crosshairs. Fortunately, the tropical storm failed to strengthen at all as it approached South Florida, a result of greater than expected shear in the upper atmosphere.

Ernesto moved ashore early on August 30, about 60 miles southwest of Miami with 45-MPH sustained winds and moved northward, bringing gusty winds and occasional squalls to much of South Florida, but little else. The tropical storm weakened into a tropical depression just before it started to cross over Lake Okeechobee.

The depression continued northward along the peninsula, then veered towards the north-northeast before exiting the state just north of Daytona Beach during the early morning of August 31. Once out over the open Atlantic, it quickly strengthened back to a tropical storm and threatened to become a hurricane as it approached the North Carolina coast, but never quite made it. Ernesto’s sustained winds reached 70 MPH before hitting the southeastern coast of North Carolina late on August 31. The storm moved inland, weakened and quickly dissipated hours later.


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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