Hurricane Dennis was the fourth named storm of the horrific 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and one of the deadliest storms on record, the second hurricane, and the first major hurricane of the season, making landfall on the Florida Panhandle on July 10 as a Category 3 hurricane with 115-120 mph winds. After landfall, Dennis moved northwest through the United States, weakening to a tropical depression as it did so. Dennis turned to the northeast eventually, preformed a loop, then continued to move northeast, where it dissipated in Ontario on July 13. Dennis's damage total reached $4,000,000,000 (2005 USD). Dennis caused 42 direct fatalities, and 47 indirect fatalities throughout its path.
|Formation||July 4, 2005|
|Dissipation||July 13, 2005|
|Highest winds||150 mph|
|Lowest pressure||930 mbar|
|Deaths||19,386 direct, 47 indirect|
|Damages||$4,000,000,000 (2005 USD)|
|Areas affected||Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio Valley|
Dennis developed from Tropical Depression Four in the southeastern Carriban Sea on July 4, becoming the first storm of the season to form away from Mexico or Central America. The depression made landfall almost immediately in Grenada, packing sustained winds of 30 mph. On the morning of July 5, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Dennis. Even before becoming a tropical storm, while it was still a tropical depression, Dennis was forecast to become a hurricane, due to the potential for the system to become a significant hurricane. After becoming a tropical storm, Dennis headed west-northwest, becoming a hurricane on the afternoon of July 6, while located to the south of Hispaniola. Dennis quickly became a very well-organized Category 1 hurricane. The next day, Dennis rapidly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane. This was the earliest a hurricane had reached Category 4 intensity since Hurricane Audrey in the 1957 Atlantic hurricane season, which became a Category 4 on June 27. After intensifying into a Category 4, Dennis began to move slightly more north, causing Dennis to move in between Haiti and Jamaica on July 7.
After that, Dennis approached the coast of Cuba, with its track become more erratic and wobbly. Dennis made landfall near Punta del Inglés as a Category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds late on July 7. Dennis weakened to a Category 3 after crossing Cuba, and then headed into the Gulf of Guacanayabo, reintensifying into a Category 4 hurricane, this time reaching a peak of 150 mph winds. On July 8, Dennis made landfall in Punta Mangles Altos, with 140 mph winds. After that, Dennis weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, due to the mountainous terrain of Cuba that it had crossed over. However, on July 9, Dennis quickly reintensified over the Gulf Loop Current, and once again became a Category 4 hurricane on July 10. At 1200 UTC, Dennis's minimum central pressure peaked at 930 mb, making Dennis the strongest storm to form prior to August, surpassing even Hurricane Audrey. This record only lasted less than two weeks, with Hurricane Emily breaking that record less than two weeks later.
Dennis moved north-northwest towards the central Gulf Coast, and forecasters at the NHC predicted that Dennis would make landfall near full strength late in the afternoon. However, just like Hurricane Ivan in 2004, which struck the same area in September, Dennis weakened, with its winds dropping from 145 mph to 120 mph before landfall. Dennis made landfall on Santa Rosa Island on the Florida Panhandle as a 120 mph Category 3 hurricane at 2:25 PM on July 10. After landfall, Dennis weakened, becoming a tropical depression by the morning of July 11. Dennis headed northwest, then northeast, preforming a loop, then it continued to move northeast into Ontario. Dennis gained a little bit more strength while over Illinois. Dennis dissipated in Ontario on July 13.
Because of Hurricane Cindy's landfall along the Gulf Coast in early July, uncertainty of Dennis's landfall along the Gulf Coast led oil prices to be pushed to a record price of $61.28 a barrel on July 6. On July 7, the oil prices were $61.50. On July 8, oil prices dropped below $60. Dennis was originally forecast to make landfall in Louisiana, which is one of the oil-producing regions along the Gulf Coast.
Residents along the coastline were evacuated because of the threat from Dennis, though many were not willing to evacuate, despite the order.
In Cuba, more than 600,000 residents were moved from their homes and into government shelters or other places because of the threat from the powerful Hurricane Dennis.
In Florida, the lower Florida Keys were placed under a mandatory evacuation order. Evacuation orders were also issued in the rest of the Florida Keys for all non residents and mobile home residents in anticipation of Dennis. On the evening of July 8, the evacuation order was cancelled, due to there not being anymore sufficient time for stragglers in the Florida Keys to leave safely. Also, evacuation orders were issued for coastal areas stretching from Escambia County to Bay County in anticipation of Dennis. Finally, military installations, namely NAS Pensacola, Eglin AFB, Whiting Field, Tyndall AFB, and Hurlburt Field were evacuated because of Dennis's the threat to the area.
In Alabama, the governor of the state declared a state of emergency. Also, 6 AM on July 9, all southbound lanes on Interstate 65 from Mobile to Montgomery were closed. Also, traffic was redirected, allowing all four lanes northbound to allow for evacuations. Residents living in all parts of Mobile County and those in Baldwin County, had evacuation orders issued for them in anticipation of Dennis.
In Mississippi, the governor of the state declared a state of emergency. Also, parts of Jackson, Harrison, and Hancock Counties, evacuation orders were issued.
In Louisiana, the governor of the state declared a state of emergency. No evacuation orders were issued, since Dennis never came close enough to the state for evacuations to be necessary.
In Haiti, Dennis killed 56 people in the country, as well as injured 36 other people. Dennis also damaged 3,000 homes, as well as destroyed 929 homes in the country; this left 1,500 families homeless in the country. 16 people out of the 32 people killed by Dennis were killed when the bridge they were on collapsed during the hurricane. Finally, 24 people in the country are currently still listed as missing.
In Jamaica, Dennis caused $32,000,000 in damage, due to the impacts in the country. Thankfully, Dennis impacted Jamaica as a weak storm, unlike in many other places.
In Cuba, Dennis killed 16 people, and caused $1.4 billion in damage as it moved through the country as a Category 4 hurricane. Dennis also flattened houses and downed trees and power lines in the country when it roared through the country. According to the Cuban government, 120,000 homes were damaged by Dennis, with 15,000 houses being destroyed by Dennis. Also, the citrus and vegetable industries were devastated by the storm, with Cuba's agricultural regions being the hardest hit by the storm. Dennis was also widely considered to be the worst hurricane to hit Cuba since Hurricane Flora in 1963, which struck the island at Category 4 intensity. Also, at Cienfuegos, some Cuban meteorologists stated that wind gusts reached 149 mph, with 85% of the power lines being knocked down, as well as extensive damage to the communications infrastructure had occured.
Finally, Fidel Castro publicly refused aid from the United States, due to the ongoing trade embargo against Cuba. He said that "If they offered $1 billion we would say no." Overall, damage in Cuba was extensive, and was quite possibly the country's worst hurricane since 1963's Hurricane Flora.
In the United States, Dennis did not cause as much damage as was originally expected. This was mainly due to Dennis's small size (hurricane-force winds only extended 40 miles from the center when Dennis made landfall), and its fast foward motion. Dennis was moving about 7 mph faster than Ivan when it made landfall approximately 30 miles east of where Ivan came ashore in 2004. Also, Ivan had hurricane-force winds that extended 105 miles out from the center, thus it was not as destructive as Ivan, thus caused less damage. During the height of the storm, Dennis produced a storm surge as high as 9 feet in the Apalachee Bay region, and produced a storm surge as high 7 feet on the Florida Panhandle. 680,000 customers without electricity in four southern states. Also, no significant damage was reported to most structures; insurers had initially estimated that Dennis caused $3 billon to $5 billion in insured damages, or approximately $6-10 billion total.
However, the NHC's Tropical Cyclone Report on the storm stated that the damage in the United States was only about $2.23 billion, with $1.115 of that damage insured damage. In some parts of Alabama and Georgia, Dennis dumped over 10 inches of rain, with Georgia already having suffered significant rainfall from Hurricane Cindy just a few days earlier. Because of the immense rainfall brought on already saturated ground in Georgia by Dennis, flash flooding was reported on the outskirts of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. Also, Dennis produced at least 10 tornadoes in the United States, though only one of those tornadoes reached F1 status. In the United States, 15 storm-related deaths were reported, with 14 of those deaths occuring in Florida alone.
In the Gulf of Mexico, Dennis heavily damaged the Thunder Horse, a BP oil rig located about 150 miles southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana, causing it to list badly.
Because of the effects the storm caused, the name Dennis was retired in the Spring of 2006 by the World Meteorological Organization, with the replacement name being called Don. Don is on the list of names to be used in the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.