Hurricane Gabrielle was the seventh named storm, fifth hurricane, and first major hurricane of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season. Gabrielle was a Cape Verde hurricane, developing southeast of the Cape Verde Islands during the last few days of August. Gabrielle recurved out to sea without making landfall. But despite this, it was a very large hurricane, and in addition, reached Category 4 status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

Gabrielle caused no known damage, but 9 fatalities, all direct.

Hurricane Gabrielle at peak intensity
FormationAugust 30, 1989
Dissipation September 13, 1989
Highest winds 145 mph
Lowest pressure 939 mbar
Deaths 9 direct
Damages Unknown
Areas affectedLeeward Islands, East Coast of the United States, Bermuda
Part of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season

Meteorological History

Gabrielle developed from a tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa on August 28. This wave was the one immediately following Hurricane Felix. After emerging from the coast, the wave was already well organized, with vigorous convection. By 1200 UTC August 30, the wave had organized sufficiently to be designated a tropical depression. The cyclone moved westward due to a ridge to the north. As upper-level outflow improved, the depression strengthened into a tropical storm at 0000 UTC August 31. By 1200 UTC that day, Gabrielle had become quite large, and very well developed. Gabrielle moved west-northwest over the next several days, and attained Category 4 status by September 3. By 0000 UTC September 4, a major upper-level trough extended from just east of the Canadian Maritimes southwestward to the Georgia/Florida border. By 0600 UTC September 5, a wave developed along the aforementioned trough, which in turn caused pressure falls to the northwest of the hurricane. Consequently, Gabrielle turned to the northwest and followed the weakness within the high. Gabrielle passed northeast of the northeastern Leeward Islands. During this time, Felix had attained hurricane status. Felix's strengthening resulted in the weakening of the ridge to the north that was previously in between the two storms, and Gabrielle turned northward in response. Over the next several days, Gabrielle continued moving northward due to a very large north-south oriented upper trough which covered most of the western Atlantic. By September 10, Gabrielle became nearly stationary about 475 east-southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Gabrielle drifted slowly westward, embedded within the circulation of the aforementioned broad trough, and weakened to a tropical storm on September 10, and to a tropical depression on September 11.

On September 12, another trough exiting the northeastern United States turned Gabrielle to the northeast. By September 13, Gabrielle merged with a developing extratropical cyclone off the coast of Newfoundland.


On September 3, the National Hurricane Center indicated Gabrielle had at least a 10 percent chance of affecting the Leeward Islands within three days. On September 5, it was forecast that the hurricane would move north of the Virgin Islands and the NHC told the press that it was too early to know for sure whether or not Gabrielle would end up affecting the United States four or five days in advance. Although Gabrielle was not forecast to hit the island, a missionary traveling across Jamaica told a prophecy to the people of the island that the island would face doom, and that it might come in the form of Gabrielle or a hurricane in the near future.

As Gabrielle moved west-northwest, the NHC warned residents living along the East Coast of the United States to monitor the progress of the storm, due to its exceptionally large size and dangerous swells. When Gabrielle was moving northwestward, the NHC forecast the outer edge of the hurricane to affect the island of Bermuda, and the hurricane was forecast to produce tropical storm force winds and high waves across the island. In Bermuda, cruise ships and other forms of water craft were warned of rough seas, and many residents went to stores to buy emergency hurricane supplies.


Numerous ships came in to contact with powerful Hurricane Gabrielle; two of them reported winds of 60 mph, along with a pressure of 992 and 997 mb, respectively. None of the ships that came in to contact with the hurricane reported any damage.

Eastern Caribbean and Bermuda

Gabrielle produced waves of up to 10 feet on Barbados. In addition, the cyclone produced flooding on the island, which caused minor damage. No injuries or fatalities were reported on the island in association with Gabrielle. On Dominica, the hurricane's waves caused extensive beach erosion along the northern and eastern shorelines of the island nation, though little damage was reported. Although it caused no damage, the erosion from Gabrielle, combined with that from Hurricane Hugo, resulted in a loss of 14 feet of beach on the island. In addition, Nevis and the British Virgin Islands experienced minor to moderate beach erosion from the large hurricane.

Gabrielle produced waves of 10 to 20 feet on Bermuda.

United States

Although Gabrielle did not make landfall along the East Coast of the United States, it had numerous indirect effects.

A photograph of rough seas caused by powerful Hurricane Gabrielle during a
reconnaissance flight.

A buoy offshore the Outer Banks of North Carolina reported waves as high as 10 feet, with waves as high as 5 to 13 feet being reported from Florida to Maryland. Two teenagers in Rhode Island were rescued by the United States Coast Guard after they were swept into the water by Gabrielle's intense waves. In Tenants Harbor, Maine, a 19 year old female drowned after slipping off a rock at the shoreline. Two men who were with her tried to rescue her, but failed as high seas from Gabrielle overpowered them. Later on, the two men were rescued by the crew of a bypassing fishing boat. In New Hampshire, the United States Coast Guard rescued two surfers while looking for a swimmer who was previously reported missing. Near Boston, Massachusetts, a 25 year old man was reported as missing in the Ipswich River north of Cape Ann after a motorboat capsized in the rough seas. Two other occupants of the vessel, including an infant, were later rescued. In New York City, a 37 year old man was reported missing and presumed dead after his houseboat capsized in Gabrielle's rough seas. In addition, yet another houseboat capsized due to the hurricane, which caused a 58 year old woman to drown. Onshore, a large wave swept two fishermen into the ocean, where they drowned. In all, Gabrielle killed 8 people in the United States. Damage figures for the United States are not available.

Atlantic Canada

Gabrielle produced waves of 20 to 30 feet along the southern shore of Nova Scotia. In addition, a fatality was reported when a man drowned near Ketch Harbour when a wave swept him into the ocean.

Gabrielle southeast of Nova Scotia on September 8.

Lack of Retirement

Because it did not cause significant damage, the name Gabrielle was not retired after this season. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.

See also


External links

1989 Atlantic hurricane season

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