Hurricane Gabrielle was the seventh named storm and third hurricane of the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season. Gabrielle formed on September 11 in the eastern Gulf of Mexico just west of Florida. Gabrielle made landfall at just under hurricane intensity along Florida's west coast. It then moved northeast and out to sea, eventually reaching hurricane intensity.
Gabrielle killed 3 people and caused $230,000,000 (2001 USD) in damage.
|Formation||September 11, 2001|
|Dissipation||September 19, 2001|
|Highest winds||80 mph|
|Lowest pressure||975 mbar|
|Deaths||2 direct, 1 indirect|
|Damages||$230,000,000 (2001 USD)|
|Areas affected||Florida, Newfoundland|
By September 5, a weak low- to mid-level trough was nearly stationary a short distance off the East Coast of the United States. For several days, it remained nearly stationary. By September 8, a low-level circulation developed about 125 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. Carrying minimal convection, the system degenerated into an open trough as it drifted southwestward due to weak steering currents. The broad feature extending from the Bahamas to the eastern Gulf of Mexico gradually developed a mid-level center by September 9 over Florida. On September 10, a surface low developed over the eastern Gulf of Mexico and despite disorganized convection, atmospheric conditions remained favorable for intensification. The low gradually became better organized. By September 11, the low became organized enough for the National Hurricane Center to classify it as Tropical Depression Eight, while located about 170 miles west-northwest of Key West, Florida. After forming, the depression drifted west-southwest, as it was located in an area weak steering currents. Northerly wind shear and the presence of an upper-level low near the depression prevented further development in the early stages, leaving the depression poorly organized with minimal convection. Despite this, the depression gradually gained organization as it executed a small counter-clockwise loop, and early on September 12, increased banding features were evident in the eastern semicircle.
By September 13, outflow over the depression became much better-defined, although the surface circulation initially remained broad with light winds. Shortly thereafter, deep convection developed and persisted near the center and by 1200 UTC on September 13, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Gabrielle, while located about 200 miles southwest of Venice, Florida. Under the influence of a mid-level trough, Gabrielle accelerated to the northeast and quickly intensified despite increasing amounts of westerly wind shear. The center of Gabrielle reformed several times under the deep convection, and on September 14, Gabrielle made landfall near Venice, Florida as a 70 mph tropical storm. At this time, hurricane hunter aircraft reported gusts to hurricane-force, and the National Hurricane Center indicated that it is possible Gabrielle made landfall as a hurricane.
Gabrielle at landfall in Florida.
After landfall, Gabrielle quickly weakened because it was overland, as well as because vertical shear was increasing. Gabrielle's convection decreased significantly, with the strongest convection remaining well to the northeast of the circulation center. After emerging into the Atlantic Ocean 18 hours after its Florida landfall, one forecaster at the National Hurricane Center remarked that the storm resembled an occluded frontal low, with a large circulation devoid of convection in a non-symmetric wind field.
Another forecaster remarked that Gabrielle resembled a subtropical cyclone, as dry air was continuing to limit organization. On September 15, convection gradually developed closer to the center, although operationally, forecasters at the NHC were unsure whether or not the convection was actually associated with Gabrielle, or with a cold front to its west. Another hurricane hunter flight into the storm indicated that Gabrielle's center had become elongated, resembling a trough, and one forecaster at this time indicated that Gabrielle was transitioning into an extratropical cyclone. Shortly thereafter, convection increased near the center and Gabrielle became much better organized. Despite high amounts of shear, Gabrielle became a hurricane on September 17, while located about 350 miles west of Bermuda. Gabrielle continued to the northeast, Gabrielle strengthened slightly more, and reached its peak of 80 mph while located about 230 miles northwest of Bermuda. Shortly thereafter, a banding eye developed in the center of Gabrielle. However, strong upper-level wind shear decreased the convection around Gabrielle's center, and it weakened to a tropical storm on September 18. By early on September 19, shear dissipated nearly all of Gabrielle's deep convection, and Gabrielle became extratropical while located about 350 miles south of Newfoundland.
Gabrielle's extratropical remnants continued northeast, passing a short distance southeast of Newfoundland before re-strengthening to reach winds of 75 mph. The storm weakened, and on September 21, Gabrielle merged with another extratropical system over the far north Atlantic Ocean.
Shortly after Gabrielle became a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center issued a Tropical Storm Warning from Craig Key through the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys and along the west coast of Florida from Flamingo the mouth of Suwanee River. Also, a Hurricane Watch was issued Chokoloskee to Tarpon Springs. The following day, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued for Lake Okeechobee and the east coast of Florida from Jupiter to St. Augustine.
The government of Bermuda issued a gale warning before changing it to a Tropical Storm Warning on September 16.
The Newfoundland Weather Center issued severe weather warnings for portions of Atlantic Canada prior to the arrival of Gabrielle's extratropical remnants. Also, rough sea warnings were issued for the waters off of the Avalon Peninsula of eastern Newfoundland, and fisherman were recommended to stay away from the ocean.
In Florida, where Gabrielle made landfall, Gabrielle produced moderate winds, reaching up to 58 mph in Venice. High tides caused by rough waves and storm surge reached 6.2 feet, the highest tide since 1926. The tide flooded the northern shoreline of Charlotte Harbor as well as at the entrance to the Peace River. Further south, a storm surge greater than 3 feet inundated the barrier island at Fort Myers Beach, and it also flooded some cars. Where the storm surge was greatest, beach erosion was common.
Gabrielle also produced strong winds along the east coast of Florida, with winds of 59 mph being reported at St. Augustine. In addition to the wind and surge, Gabrielle produced heavy rainfall, reaching 4-7 inches along its passage through the state. A foot of rain fell in Volusia and Lake Counties in northeastern Florida. Also, other reports of urban and river flooding were acknowledged throughout the state. In addition to the flooding, tornadoes were reported. There were a total of 18 tornadoes reported in Florida from Gabrielle.
Daytona Beach during Gabrielle.
The FAA had grounded private aircraft following the tragic events of the terrorist attacks on the very day that this storm formed. As the storm approached an exemption was issued for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Owners were able to evacuate their aircraft and provide emergency relief flights after the storm passed.
In all, Gabrielle killed 3 people, with one of those deaths being indirect. A 15 year old boy drowned in Winter Springs, Florida. Another died because of a rip current off the coast of Alabama. Finally, the indirect death was caused because of an individual falling off a boat and drowning due to intoxication.
Bermuda and Atlantic Canada
In Bermuda, the combination of Gabrielle and a cold front dropped 1.8 inches of rain in a 4-day period. Gabrielle's outer rainbands produced 55 mph wind gusts on the island. No damage was reported in Bermuda from Gabrielle.
In Newfoundland, Gabrielle's extratropical remnants passed only a short distance away. Gabrielle was the second cyclone in less than a week to affect the country. Gabrielle produced sustained winds of up to 60 mph across the southern portion of Newfoundland, with gusts reaching 80 mph at Cape Race. In addition, Gabrielle produced waves as high as 36 feet. Also, Gabrielle dropped heavy rainfall in a short period of time across the country, with one station at Cape Race reporting 1.9 inches of rain in just one hour. An all time record for a 6-hour period of rain was set at St. John's, with a total of 3.54 inches of rain falling there. Rainfall peaked at 6.9 inches at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in the city of St. John's. Gabrielle caused severe flooding in St. John's, with the mayor of that city considering Gabrielle "the worst storm in 100 years". There, the flooding washed out roads and parking lots, and also flooded some basements with several feet of water. There were numerous reports of sewers unable to accompany the high amount of water. Also, hurricane-force wind gusts cancelled flights and left thousands of people with power, telephone service, or heat. Hundreds of homes and buildings were damaged by the passage of Gabrielle, totaling several million dollars in damage.