Hurricane Danny was the fifth named storm, and the second hurricane of the 1997 Atlantic hurricane season. Danny developed from a non-tropical area of thunderstorms over the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of July. Danny moved east-northeast after forming, and it made landfall near Buras, Louisiana on July 18. Danny was the only hurricane to make landfall in the 1997 Atlantic hurricane season. Also, like the previous for storms in the season, Danny had a non-tropical origin. Despite forming so early in the season (so early in fact, that it was the earliest ever that the 5th named storm formed in an Atlantic hurricane season. This record was kept by Danny until Tropical Storm Emily formed on July 12. Danny was unusual because it moved east-northeast, a rare occurence in the middle of July. This motion was caused by two high pressure systems.
Danny produced torrential rainfall and tornadoes throughout its path, both of which caused damage. Danny killed 4 people directly, and caused $100,000,000 (1997 USD) in damage in Louisiana. $63,000,000 (1997 USD) in property and crop damage occured in Alabama from Danny. Elsewhere, Danny caused less than $32,000,000 (1997 USD) in property damage and crop damage. Danny set a record rainfall for Alabama, with 36.71 inches of rain falling on Dauphin Island from the storm. Many areas along the Gulf Coast experienced flooding, beach erosion, and power outages from Danny. Also, rescues from flooded roads had to be preformed. Most of the damage along the East Coast of the United States was from various tornadoes that Danny spawned. Danny moved across the southeastern United States after its Louisiana landfall, and it also produced wind and rain in Massachusetts.
|Formation||July 16, 1997|
|Dissipation||July 27, 1997|
|Highest winds||80 mph|
|Lowest pressure||984 mbar|
|Deaths||4 direct, 6 indirect|
|Damages||$100,000,000 (1997 USD)|
|Areas affected||Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts|
A broad mid-tropospheric trough located over the southeastern United States spawned an area of convection over the lower Mississippi River Valley on July 13, and that convective area drifted southward into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. As it moved into the Gulf of Mexico, a weak and isolated surface low developed off the coast of Louisiana. The circulation within the system steadily expanded. Also, the convection and the surface winds were initially intermittent. However, on July 16, deep convection increased and organized near the center of the low, and oil rigs and offshore buoys reported sustained surface winds of 30 mph, and the system developed into Tropical Depression Four on July 16 while located about 150 miles south of the southwestern Louisiana coastline. The depression slowly organized for the next day as it drifted to the northeast. On July 17, the depression began to intensify much more rapidly, and the depression became Tropical Storm Danny late on July 17. From the night of July 17 through July 18, Danny rapidly intensified, and reached hurricane status later on July 18.
Because it was located at this point between two high pressure systems, Danny continued to move to the northeast, very unusual for a July storm. With time, however, Danny began to move east-northeast. It made landfall in extreme southeastern Louisiana near the city of Buras, which is near the Mississippi River Delta. After crossing the Louisiana coastline, Danny's strength was unaffected, since the land area it made landfall on was a very small land area. Danny strengthened after moving offshore, and reached its peak intensity of 80 mph and a pressure of 984 mb early on July 19, while located off the coast of Mississippi. Because Danny was a small storm, however, the hurricane-force winds were only found in the eyewall. After stalling near the mouth of the Mobile Bay on July 19, Danny turned to the east and made its second and final landfall near Mullet Point, Alabama later on July 19. As Danny continued northward, it rapidly weakened, weakening first to a tropical storm, then a tropical depression by July 20. Danny moved through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, maintaining a well-defined cloud signature.
Due to the influence of a front behind the system, Danny strengthened baroclincally over North Carolina to a tropical storm on July 24. This is very rare for a tropical cyclone, and it occured possibly from Danny having good inflow from a baroclinic source. Danny emerged into the Atlantic Ocean north of the Virginia/North Carolina border near Virginia Beach as a tropical storm, and it quickly restrengthened to reach a secondary peak of 60 mph winds. Danny then continued rapidly to the northeast, towards the cooler waters of the Atlantic Ocean. A strong mid to upper-level cyclone turned Danny to the north, causing it to threaten Massachusetts. While just 30 miles southeast of Nantucket Island on July 26, Danny stalled, turned east and out to sea, and it became an extratropical cyclone later that day. On July 27, Danny's extratropical remnants merged with a frontal boundary.
Danny after passing over southeastern Louisiana.
On July 17, the National Hurricane Center issued a Hurricane Watch as Danny became a tropical storm, for the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. On July 18, when Danny became a hurricane, a few hours before its Louisiana landfall, and over a day before its Alabama landfall, that watch was upgraded to a Hurricane Warning. The mayor of Grand Isle, Arthur Ballenger ordered an evacuation of the town's 1,500 residents. This was because of the large amount of tourists on the island, as well as to prevent anyone from being unable to leave the island as Danny approached. At the time, Danny was expected to produce a 5-foot storm surge, potentially flooding the highway out of Grand Isle. Officials distributed sandbags to residents in St. Bernard Parish in order to seal off roads that were easily flooded, and officials recommended that residents leave the area.
Also, prior to the arrival of Danny, the governors of Mississippi and Alabama declared disaster emergencies, expecting a 9-foot storm surge and 20 inches of rain from the small hurricane at the time. 6 shelters were opened in Mobile County, although few people used the shelters. Also, officials considered opening shelters near local casinos and beaches Biloxi, Mississippi. There was also a Tropical Storm Warning issued for southeastern Massachusetts, a few hours before sustained tropical storm-force winds affected the area, and less than 12 hours before Danny's approach to the coastline.
Because Danny was a small storm, total damage was only $100,000,000 (1997 USD). If Danny would've been a larger storm, damage could've easily been much higher. Danny killed 4 people directly, and 6 indirectly.
In Louisiana, where Danny made its first landfall, torrential rainfall occured from the slow-moving tropical cyclone. Many parishes east of New Orleans experienced heavy rainfall and strong winds from Danny. However, the extreme rainfall associated with Danny was confined to one small area near the center of the storm. If Danny would've been a much larger storm, the flooding would've created a widespread disaster, and Danny could've possibly had its name retired. Grand Isle and the lower portions of Plaquemines Parish were hardest hit in the state. A wind gust of 100 mph occured in Grand Isle, and a storm surge of 5.2 feet occured. In Venice, a gage reported the water level to be 4.85 feet. On average, storm tides of 2-3 feet above normal were felt. Also, at least 10,000 people lost electricity in Louisiana as a result of Danny, and 130 boats were damaged or sunk at a large marina in the city of Buras. This occured after waters surged in over 4 feet within just minutes.
Grand Isle, as well as Grand Terre Island received beach erosion from Danny. Also, around 160 households and businesses reported damage on Grand Isle from the small hurricane. The Jefferson Parish part of Grand Isle suffered $1.5 million in damage (1997 USD), Plaquemines Parish on Grand Isle suffered $3.5 million in damage (1997 USD), with the greatest damage in Plaquemines Parish occuring between the cities of Empire and Venice. Also, within the hurricane protection levees in the parish, trees, power lines, mobile homes, and roofs suffered damage from Danny. Also, localized flooding occured in Plaqumines, with about 10 inches of rain falling. Due to storm tides, some highways were also flooded from Danny, in lower Terrebone Parish. Also, a few roads in St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes suffered flooding, outside the hurricane protection levee zone. Elsewhere in southeastern Louisiana, there wasn't really any damage, since Danny was a weak and small storm.
Danny offshore Mississippi.
Eastern Jackson County was the most affected portion of Mississippi. The city of Pascagoula reported a wind gust of 35 mph on July 19. Also, the Pascagoula airport received 7.87 inches of rain from Danny from July 17 through July 19. Also, some streets were flooded, as well as a few homes in far southeastern Jackson County, located within areas of poor drainage systems. Despite all of this, overall damage along the Mississippi coastline was minimal.
In Alabama, Danny produced extreme amounts of rainfall. The highest rainfall total in the state was reported at 36.71 inches. An important thing to note is that not all of the rainfall was caught in the rain gauge at Dauphin Island, so the rainfall total could actually be higher. Estimates from doppler radar indicate that around 43 inches of rain fell on Dauphin Island as a result of Danny. Also, a storm surge of 6.5 feet occured off of Highway 182, midway between Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan. This was in addition to the tremendous rainfall Danny produced. In an unusual occurence, when Danny stalled off the coast of Alabama, northerly winds forced water out of Mobile Bay, causing tides of 2 feet below normal, with observers indicating that with the exception of river channels, it would be possible to walk across the bay. Danny also produced three tornadoes in the state of Alabama, with one tornado occuring in Orange Beach, another in Opelika, and the final tornado occured in Port Alabama, with a couple tornadoes causing minimal damage.
Danny only killed one person directly, thankfully, and that one person was a man who drowned off the coast near Fort Morgan when he fell off his sailboat. Danny also killed one person indirectly, and this was due to a man having a heart attack while he tried to secure a boat off the coast of Alabama during the hurricane. Also, Danny left numerous roads flooded and impassable for days, south and along I-10 in Mobile, south and central Choctaw and Baldwin counties. Also, along the Fowl and Fish rivers, located in Mobile and Baldwin counties, there was significant damage to homes because of immense flooding brought by Danny. Most roads on Dauphin Island were also flooded with over a foot of water. Also, a few homes were close to falling into Mobile Bay, with one home having to be moved backwards from land in order to prevent it from falling into Mobile Bay. During the peak of Danny, 44,000 people were without electricity in both Mobile and Baldwin counties. Also, in rural Choctaw County, located to the north of Mobile, several families had to be rescued from flooded roads and trapped cars.
Also, the majority of homes and businesses on Dauphin Island, as well as buildings from the western shore of Mobile Bay, and from Fort Morgan east to Orange Beach had roof damage from the hurricane. Total property damage in Alabama from Danny was $60.5 million (1997 USD). Also, pecan and pine tree damage in the state ended up costing $2.5 million (1997 USD).
In Florida, Danny caused some damage to the cotton crop in eastern Escambia County. Aside from that, damage in Florida was extremely minimal. However, the Panama City area had some freshwater flooding from Danny.
East Coast of the United States
Danny produced 8-12 inches of rain as it drifted through western portions of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. A severe thunderstorm in South Carolina produced five tornadoes that touched down, with one of these tornadoes killing a woman in her destroyed duplex while passing through Lexington County. Also, an F2 tornado started 4 miles northeast of the city of Gaston in South Carolina. It ended 7 miles northeast of Gaston, with a width of 200 yards and a length of 4 miles. This tornado caused $942,000 (1997 USD) in damage throughout its path. The tornado killed one person, injured 6 others, destroyed 2 houses, 2 apartments, and 7 mobile homes; it also damage many other homes. Also, several tornadoes and waterspouts were spawned over the state of Virginia from Danny. Most of them occured in the cities of Norfolk, Hampton, and Portsmouth. An F1 tornado occured 1 mile to the south of Norfolk, with a width of 50 yards and a length of 1 mile. This tornado caused $400,000 (1997 USD) in damage.
The tornado destroyed one car wash, and six other businesses had major roof damage from the tornado, and one house also had some damage from the tornado. Rainfall in the city of Fayetteville measured 2.85 inches of rainfall. The remainder of the Mid-Atlantic States picked up approximately 3 inches of rain from Danny. Heavy rainfall from Danny caused two people to drown near Charlotte in North Carolina. Also, a girl drowned after being swept into a creek by floodwaters. The other death occured when a woman drowned from floodwaters in her car. Also, four indirect deaths occured as a result of traffic accidents during the hurricane. These four deaths occured in the state of Georgia. Also, the tornado that touched down in the city of Portsmouth, Virginia, a car wash was destroyed, six businesses suffered damage, with one lumber company having its roof completely torn off. Finally, one large semi-trailer truck was overturned by the tornado. There was one good effect from Danny, and that was that it helped relieve a severe drought that was plaguing the Mid-Atlantic States in July. Finally, strong winds were experienced in southeastern Massachusetts from Danny, although damage was minor, with the damaging including minor flooding, power outages, and downed tree limbs.
Danny south of Massachusetts.
Danny produced 36.71 inches of rain on Dauphin Island, setting a new record for the most tropical or subtropical cyclone related rainfall in the state of Alabama. This total is also among the largest rainfall totals in the United States. Also, when Danny formed on July 17, it became the earliest that the fifth tropical or subtropical cyclone developed in the Atlantic basin. This record was kept until 2005, when Emily formed on July 12.
Lack of Retirement
Because damage was not extreme, the name Danny was not retired by the World Meteorological Organization in the Spring of 1998. It was used again in the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season, and is on the list of names to be used for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season.