Hurricane Kyle was the eleventh named storm and third hurricane of the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season. Kyle formed on September 20 in the open Atlantic Ocean about 820 miles south-southeast of Bermuda. Kyle moved very eratically across the Atlantic Ocean and it became a hurricane on September 25. Kyle fluctuated in intensity throughout its lifetime, making several comebacks despite strong amounts of wind shear. Kyle eventually made landfall near McClellanville, South Carolina as a tropical storm, then it made landfall near Surf City, North Carolina just hours later. Finally, Kyle became an extratropical cyclone October 12. Kyle is the fourth longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record in the Atlantic basin. Finally, Kyle was the first tropical cyclone to pass directly over Charleston Harbor since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Kyle caused $5,000,000 (2002 USD) in damage and killed 1 person.

Kyle as a hurricane on September 26
FormationSeptember 20, 2002
Dissipation October 12, 2002
Highest winds 85 mph
Lowest pressure 980 mbar
Deaths 1 indirect
Damages $5,000,000 (2002 USD)
Areas affected Bermuda, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina

Meteorological History


A non-tropical area of low pressure developed into Subtropical Depression Twelve on September 20 while located about 820 miles east-southeast of the island of Bermuda. After forming, the subtropical depression moved in a clockwise loop fashion. About twelve hours later on September 21, the subtropical depression strengthened into Subtropical Storm Kyle while located 790 miles east of Bermuda. At about 1800 UTC on September 22, during Kyle's loop motion, it was designated a tropical storm, as it gained fully tropical characteristics. Kyle continued to intensify, becoming a hurricane at around 1200 UTC on September 25. Operationally, the National Hurricane Center did not designate Kyle as a hurricane, and instead chose to keep Kyle as a tropical storm. It was only during the next advisory six hours later that Kyle was upgraded to a hurricane by the NHC. At around 1200 UTC on September 26, Kyle reached its peak intensity of 85 mph, and it managed to maintain that intensity for over 24 hours, despite expectations of the weakening of the cyclone. This led James Franklin to comment that Kyle was doing an "admirable job in fighting off the upper-level northly flow" that had been impacting it.


Kyle as a hurricane on September 27.

Kyle eventually started to weaken due to the strong wind shear, weakening to a tropical depression at 1800 UTC on September 30. By 1500 UTC on October 1, Kyle was operationally re-upgraded to a tropical storm, quickly reaching its new peak intensity of 70 mph at around 2100 UTC on October 2.


TRMM image of Kyle on October 3.

Despite this, Kyle was unable to maintain its strength, and it weakened back to a tropical depression again early on October 5. On October 6, Kyle made another comeback, regaining tropical storm status once again after the NHC received data that showed the winds were of tropical storm strength within the cyclone. Kyle began to weaken again and on October 8, Kyle was downgraded to a tropical depression yet again because of strong vertical wind shear aloft taking its toll on the cyclone. Kyle proved the forecasters at the NHC wrong again, strengthening again to a tropical storm on October 11 shortly before making its first landfall near McClellanville, South Carolina at 1700 UTC.

Kyle making landfall in South Carolina.

Five hours later, Kyle made a second landfall near Surf City, North Carolina. For the fifth time on October 12, Kyle strengthened into a tropical storm yet again, having weakened to a tropical depression overland, shortly before becoming extratropical. Kyle's remnants went on to affect the Azores and the British Isles.

Because of its long duration, Kyle was operationally thought to be the third longest-lived Atlantic tropical cyclone on record, behind Hurricane Inga of 1969, and Hurricane Ginger of 1971. However, a re-analysis during 2004 made Kyle the fourth longest-lasting Atlantic hurricane on record, with the 1899 Hurricane San Ciriaco being the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane on record.

Forecasting Uncertainties

Kyle was an unpredictable storm throughout its lifetime. The first forecast discussion after Kyle had weakened to a tropical depression on September 30, was done by Lixion Avila. In it, Avila stated that it was "an unusual and highly uncertain forecast", with Avila choosing to keep Kyle as a 30 kt cyclone throughout a 72-hour period. Instead, Kyle strengthened back into a tropical storm just hours later. In this advisory, it was said that Kyle would likely drift to the southwest, and that was the official forecast from the National Hurricane Center. However, the National Hurricane Center's Tropical Cyclone Report on Kyle stated that Kyle did a northeastward movement during this time. Avila had noted that the forecast was "uncertain" in this discussion, and it indeed was. As Kyle strengthened, the forecast discussion from when Kyle was at its secondary peak of 60 knots revealed that Kyle may have developed an eye, but the forecaster James Franklin stated that there was a lack of "solid or vigorous" convection near the "eye". In addition, Franklin forecast Kyle to reach hurricane status again, although it never did. The 57th discussion for Kyle released by the National Hurricane Center stated that "Kyle is barely a tropical storm", although that discussion called for Kyle to strengthen. However, just 12 hours later, Kyle weakened to a tropical depression. In the advisory that downgraded Kyle to a tropical depression, the NHC forecast that Kyle would stall for 36 hours out of the 72-hour forecast period. As usual, Kyle did not do this. Also, two of the next five advisories stated that Kyle would stall but to no one's surprise, Kyle defied the forecasts. Also, discussion number 64 did not correctly forecast that Kyle would weaken back to a tropical depression.

Kyle's repeated weakening and re-strengthening would go on and lead to further incorrect forecasts, with discussions 71 and 72 from the NHC forecasting gradual strengthening of the cyclone. Kyle actually weakened to a tropical depression just hours later. The NHC would go on to make further forecast errors, although it was noted in their Tropical Cyclone Report for Kyle that the track forecast errors were lower than average, and that the intensity forecasts had a slight positive bias, but that they were still below the 10-year averages.



Although Kyle never threatened Bermuda, it was put under a Tropical Storm Watch due to the uncertain track of the cyclone.

Southeastern United States

Tropical Storm Watches and warnings were required for much of the Southeastern United States, from Florida to North Carolina. However, little information is available on the preparations in those areas, as Kyle only threatened the United States as a weak tropical storm.


Kyle produced significant rainfall across Bermuda and parts of the United States. Half of October 2002's rainfall recorded in Bermuda was from Kyle. Also, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina reported a 2-day rainfall total of 5.79 inches, the highest 2-day total since Hurricane Floyd dropped 6.49 inches of rain. Also, rainfall totals of 3.24 inches were reported in Florida, 13.70 inches in Georgia, 27.7 inches in North Carolina, and 30.8 inches in South Carolina. In Clarendon County, South Carolina, Kyle produced 6 inches of rain, washing out roads. In Berkeley County, South Carolina, homes, a grocery store, and a senior citizen center were flooded. Kyle produced at least four tornado, injuring at least eight people as well as causing $1.5 to 2 million (2002 USD).

Total damage from Kyle reached $5,000,000 (2002 USD). While no deaths were reported directly from Kyle, its remnants caused at least one death in stormy seas off the British Isles.

Lack of Retirement

Because Kyle did minimal damage, it was not retired in the Spring of 2003 by the World Meteorological Organization. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

2002 Atlantic hurricane season


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