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Hurricane Gordon was the seventh named storm and fourth hurricane of the 2000 Atlantic hurricane season. Gordon formed over the Yucatan Peninsula, then moved northeastward and made landfall near Cedar Key, Florida as a tropical storm early on September 18. Gordon reached hurricane status in the Gulf of Mexico prior to weakening before landfall, reaching 80 mph winds and a pressure of 981 mb.

Gordon caused 26 deaths; 24 direct, and 2 indirect. Gordon also caused $10.8 million (2000 USD) in damage.

Gordon near the Florida coast on September 17
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Formation September 14, 2000
Dissipation September 21, 2000
Highest winds 80 mph
Lowest pressure 981 mbar
Deaths 24 direct, 2 indirect
Damages None
Areas affected Guatemala, Yucatan Peninsula, Florida, Carolinas


Meteorological History

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A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on September 4. The wave tracked westward across the Atlantic Ocean without development. On September 9 and September 10, the wave moved through the Lesser Antilles, producing heavy rainfall and wind gusts up to 35 mph. The wave then moved west-northwest and developed a well-defined low-level circulation center on September 12 in the central Carribean Sea. Satellite imagery on September 13 indicated that the convective pattern associated with the wave remained disorganized. Nevertheless, later that day, a broad area of low pressure developed along the wave's axis based on surface observations about 100 miles southeast of Chetumal, Mexico. Early on September 14, it was estimated via satellite imagery that the wave was near tropical depression strength, even though the convection remained disorganized. Based on reports from hurricane hunter aircraft, the wave was upgraded to tropical depression status. After forming, the depression moved slowly northwest across the Yucatan Peninsula. At this time, the future track of the depression was highly uncertain, as computer models forecasted the depression to make landfall in different locations. The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center predicted the depression to move northwest and into the Gulf of Mexico, while some computer models predicted it to move towards northwest Florida, and one model predicted it to move into the Bay of Campeche.

Late on September 15, the depression exited the Yucatan Peninsula and emerged over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The future track was still highly uncertain at this point, but since several computer models now forecast the depression to move northeast towards Florida, and as a result, the official forecast was shifted slightly to the right, resulting in a more northerly forecast track. Early on September 16, data from hurricane hunter aircraft indicated that the depression had managed to generate winds as strong as 60 mph at the surface, and it was upgraded promptly to Tropical Storm Gordon based on this data. At this time, the pressure of Gordon was at 1003 mb. Gordon was moving northeast at this time, towards the Big Bend of Florida, and was slowly intensifying as it did so. The official forecast was again shifted at this point, and it forecast that Gordon would move northeast. Early on September 17, a ship reported 64 kt surface winds, which translates to roughly 74 mph at the surface. Based on this, Gordon was upgraded to a hurricane. Six hours later, Gordon reached its peak intensity of 80 mph while located about 165 miles southwest of Tampa, Florida.

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Gordon over the southeastern United States.

Later that day, however, Gordon began to weaken due to dry air entrainment from the south, as well as increasing vertical wind shear. As Gordon neared the Florida coast, it was downgraded to a tropical storm. Early on September 18, Gordon made landfall near Cedar Key, Florida as a 60 mph tropical storm. After Gordon made landfall, interaction with land, as well as cooler, drier air weakened Gordon. Nine hours after landfall, Gordon had weakened to a tropical depression, and six hours later, Gordon merged with a frontal boundary over southeastern Georgia and had become an extratropical cyclone, while continuing northeast. On September 21, Gordon's extratropical remnants merged with another larger extratropical system over eastern Canada.

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Wind radius of Gordon when it was a tropical depression.

Preparations

Florida

In Florida, residents stocked up on supplies on September 16 when the National Hurricane Center issued a Hurricane Watch along the west coast of the state from Bonita Beach to the Suwanee River. Later that day, the watch extended north and west towards Apalachicola. In various parts of Florida, spokesmen for the Emergency Operations Center advised residents to prepare for the storm and monitor the track of the approaching hurricane. At Cape Canaveral, NASA also took precautions against the hurricane, as the storm could force NASA to move the Discovery space shuttle off its launch pad at the seaside and into the hangar. Residents in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana were also advised by radio to keep track of the approaching hurricane. On September 17, Hurricane Warnings were issued for areas along the west coast of Florida from Anna Maria Island to Ochlocknee River. In addition, Tropical Storm Warnings were issued from south of Anna Maria Island to Bonita Beach and west of Ochlocknee River to Indian Pass. Also, Tropical Storm Warnings were issued along the east coast of Florida from Titusville, Florida to Little River Inlet in South Carolina. The Florida Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee made a mandatory evacuation in Hernando County, while voluntary evacuations are called for some of the coastal areas along Florida's west coast. Because of the anticipation that Gordon would make landfall and move inland, two Tornado Watches were in effect from Sarasota to Naples, and Tornado Warnings were issued from Orlando to Vero Beach. Finally, Flash Flood Warnings were also in effect for some parts of Florida as Gordon approached.

Gulf of Mexico

Chevron Corporation and Shell Oil Company evacuated offshore crews from the Gulf of Mexico on September 16, due to a possible threat from Gordon. This was in spite of their being little impact on oil and gas production before that day. The Chevron Corporation expected the number of people that were working in the Gulf of Mexico to be reduced from 1,700 on September 16 to 450 on September 17.

Impact

Guatemala

Gordon killed 23 people in Guatemala as a tropical wave, mainly due to flooding and mudslides in mountainous regions of the country.

Cuba

In Cuba, Gordon produced 10 inches of rainfall in the western part of the country.

Yucatan Peninsula

While Gordon drifted over the Yucatan Peninsula as a tropical depression, Gordon produced heavy rainfall, peaking at 9 inches in Cancun.

Gulf of Mexico

Gordon forced the evacuation of several oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. This caused the companies of Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron to cease oil production. In addition, Gordon also forced the cruise liner Carnival's Sensation, which held 2,200 passengers and 900 crew members, to remain at sea for one day.

Florida

In Florida, before Gordon made landfall, one person was killed when a surfer drowned in high surf near Pensacola. When Gordon made landfall, it produced a storm surge in Cedar Key with waves over 6 feet high. The majority of the damage was confined to downed trees and power lines. As a result, 20,000 customers lost power in Florida for over six hours. At the height of the storm, 120,000 people were without electricity, mostly in the Tampa Metropolitan Area. Also, numerous homes along the Florida west coast from Tampa Bay and Cedar Key receieved minor roof damage from Gordon, and several roads near the coast experienced minor flooding due to Gordon's storm surge and they were closed temporarily.

Once Gordon crossed the coast, many evacuations took place. The Emergency Operations Center in Florida said authorities had arranged mandatory evacuations for coastal regions in the Citrus, Franklin, Hernando, Levy and Taylor counties, while also recommending voluntary evacuations for numerous other counties. The American Red Cross reported that Gordon had forced 500 people to take refuge in shelters. At the Tampa International Airport, many flights were cancelled because of Gordon. Also, about 200 National Guardsmen were called to help cleanup the damage in flooded areas. Also, officials forced schools in six counties - Gilchrist, Columbia, Citrus, Taylor, Lafayette and Suwannee to close down for one day. Gordon spawned tornadoes as it made landfall, with one touching down near Cape Coral, which damaged three homes, and Gordon also spawned an F0 tornado that touched down near Ponce Inlet in Volusia County, which caused minimal damage, mainly to trees and roofs.

Carolinas

As Gordon moved along the East Coast of the United States, flooding occured in North Carolina. The flooding indirectly killed two people when a car lost control and struck a tractor trailer during the storm. Also, two men in a fishing boat were reported missing. The town of Jacksonville, North Carolina received 6.25 inches of rain from Gordon, the most since Hurricane Floyd one year earlier.

In South Carolina, Gordon caused flooding because of its heavy rains. Despite the heavy rain, Gordon did little to relieve a drought that had been affecting the southeastern United States.

Lack of Retirement

Because damage was not extreme, the name Gordon was not retired in the Spring of 2001 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was used again during the 2006 season, and is on the list of names to be used for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

2000 Atlantic hurricane season

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Gordon_%282000%29

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