Hurricane Noel was the fourteenth named storm and sixth hurricane of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. Noel was the final hurricane of the season, developing on October 28 in the eastern Carribean Sea south of Hispaniola. It moved northwest, quickly attained tropical storm status, and then made landfall along the southwestern tip of Haiti. Later on, it struck eastern Cuba, emerged into the western Atlantic Ocean off the northern coast of Cuba on October 31, and then attained hurricane status early on November 2 before accelerating northeast and becoming an extratropical cyclone while southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Noel's extratropical remnants produced rough seas and gusty winds along the Eastern Seaboard and Atlantic Canada.
Noel caused $580,000,000 (2007 USD) in damage as well as 169 deaths, with all but 6 of those direct.
|Formation||October 28, 2007|
|Dissipation||November 2, 2007|
|Highest winds||80 mph (130 km/h)|
|Lowest pressure||980 mbar|
|Deaths||163 direct, 6 indirect|
|Damages||$580,000,000 (2007 USD)|
|Areas affected||Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas, Florida, Eastern Seaboard, Atlantic Canada|
|Part of the||2007 Atlantic hurricane season|
Noel originated from a tropical wave that left the coast of Africa on October 16. Over the next several days, the wave moved westward across the Atlantic Ocean with no development. However, as the wave began to approach the Lesser Antilles on October 22, it interacted with a surface trough just north of the Leeward Islands, along with an upper-level trough that extended southwestward from the Atlantic Ocean into the eastern Carribean Sea. As the wave interacted with these two troughs, a broad surface low developed along the wave axis late on October 23 about 150 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands. The surface low then moved slowly westward, producing disorganized shower and thunderstorm activity over the next few days, although strong westerly vertical shear inhibited further development. On October 25, the system turned to the west-southwest, moved across the Virgin Islands and passed near the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico early on October 26. On October 27, the shear began to decrease, which allowed convection to develop and remain close to the center of the low. That afternoon, the system became better organized and developed into Tropical Depression Sixteen by 0000 UTC October 28, while located about 185 miles south-southeast of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. After developing, the cyclone turned northwestward around the eastern periphery of a mid- to upper-level low located to the northwest. Convection associated with the depression continued to increase. In addition, banding features became better defined during the early morning hours of October 28. By 1200 UTC that day, a ship report northeast of the center indicated that the cyclone had reached tropical storm status. Noel continued to intensify, and reached winds of 60 mph just six hours later. As Noel continued moving northwest toward Haiti on October 29, land interaction with the mountainous terrain of the country disrupted the cyclone's low-level circulation center, and Noel's winds decreased to 50 mph before it made landfall along the southern coast of Haiti near the town of Jacmel around 0700 UTC October 29, or about 25 miles south-southwest of Port-Au-Prince.
Tropical Storm Noel approaching Hispaniola on October 29.
During its passage along Haiti's western coast, Noel's circulation became severely disrupted, and the storm became difficult to track. At this time, satellite imagery indicated a mid-level circulation continued moving northward and exited the northern coast of Hispaniola just before 1200 UTC October 29. Shortly thereafter, visible satellite imagery indicated that a new low-level circulation center had developed near the northwest coast of Haiti, southwest of the aforementioned mid-level circulation center. Later that day, reconnaissance aircraft was unable to fly directly through the low-level circulation depicted on satellite imagery, because it was located too close to the eastern coast of Cuba. Wind and pressure reports from the aircraft mission, however, were consistent with where the supposed low-level center was thought to be. Late on October 29, the upper-level low that had been steering Noel weakened. Due to this weakening of the upper low, Noel turned westward south of a mid-level ridge over the western Atlantic. During this period, Noel hugged the northern coast of eastern Cuba and regained winds of 60 mph. Surface observations along with observations from radar from Holguin, Cuba indicate that the cyclone passed near or just north of Lucrecia and made landfall near 0600 UTC near the town of Guardalavaca. A few hours later, Noel passed near La Jiquima, which reported a minimum central pressure of 997 mb. Noel spent a little more than 30 hours over Cuba and while over the island, its surface winds decreased, but surface as well as ship observations suggest that the storm retained at least minimal tropical storm intensity during its 30 hour trek over the rugged terrain of eastern and northern Cuba.
During the first 18 hours over Cuba, Noel moved slightly south of due west. Thereafter, it turned to the northwest, then to the north-northwest, and it emerged into the western Atlantic Ocean along the north-central coast of Cuba near Cayo Coco shortly after 1200 UTC October 31. Once over water, Noel began to strength again while meandering just offshore the coast of northern Cuba. During this time, the circulation was displaced southwest of the main convective activity due to strong southwesterly vertical shear. Early on November 1, the cyclone turned to the north-northeast ahead of an approaching mid-latitude trough that was moving across the Gulf of Mexico. During this time, a burst of very deep convection developed just to the northeast of the center of Noel, and data from a reconnaissance aircraft indicate that the pressure within the storm began to fall, although initially, the winds did not increase in response to this drop in central pressure. Shortly after 1200 UTC November 1, Noel moved across Andros Island in the northwestern Bahamas, during which time its surface winds were 60 mph.
Noel over the Bahamas.
Six hours later, Noel passed very close to Nassau with winds of 65 mph. In spite of strong southwesterly vertical shear impinging upon the cyclone, Noel continued to intensify as it moved across the northwestern Bahamas and shortly after it passed between Eleuthera and the Abaco Islands, Noel attained hurricane status. Noel reached an estimated peak of 80 mph and then accelerated northeast ahead of the aforementioned mid-latitude trough. Shortly thereafter, Noel's satellite appearance began to degrade as the inner-core convection weakened considerably. By 0000 UTC November 3, Noel lacked the characteristcs of a tropical cyclone, and was thus declared extratropical while located about 240 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Noel accelerating offshore the East Coast of the United States.
As an extratropical cyclone, Noel grew into a large and powerful system as it moved north-northeast offshore the East Coast of the United States. At 1200 UTC November 3, Noel intensified slightly, reaching winds of 85 mph, although it weakened later that day while passing about 75 miles south-southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Shortly after 0600 UTC November 4, Noel made landfall near Chebogue Point, Nova Scotia, just south of Yarmouth, with winds of 75 mph. After landfall, Noel weakened a bit, and it exited the coast of Labrador around 18 hours later. Noel's extratropical remnants continued moving northeast and merged with a stronger extratropical cyclone over Greenland by 0600 UTC November 6.
Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
In Puerto Rico, the National Weather Service in San Juan issued numerous Flash Flood Warnings as well as Flood Warnings; watches were also issued. Because of the danger Noel posed to the country, residents were advised to stay off roadways. In addition, a Flash Flood Warning was issued for all of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Immediately after being classified a tropical cyclone, the government of Haiti posted a Tropical Storm Warning for the southwestern peninsula of the country from the Dominican Republic border westward to Port-au-Prince. By the time the storm had made landfall in Haiti, a Tropical Storm Warning was either recommended or posted for the southern coast of Hispaniola from Barahona in the Dominican Republic to Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Health Care Centers in Haiti were advised to activate any emergency plans, and medicine stocks were pre-positioned if needed. In addition, residents living in flood-prone areas were evacuated. In the departments of Sud-Est, Sud, Grand Anse, Nippes, Ouest, Centre and Artibonie, a red alert was issued, while an orange alert was issued for Nord-Est, Nord and Nord-Ouest.
In the Dominican Republic, 14,500 residents took shelter in temporary storm shelters. About 1,000 inmates were evacuated from a prison north of the capital city of Santo Domingo. The National Emergency Commission authorized the opening of numerous storm shelters, and the Dominican Red Cross dispatched search and rescue teams. Also, the Coordination Center set up a crisis room, and assigned workers to 24-hour shifts.
In southeastern Cuba, a Hurricane Watch was issued. As Noel tracked further northwest, a Tropical Storm Warning was posted for the provinces of Guantánamo, Holguín, Las Tunas, Ciego de Ávila, and Camagüey. Also, the Cuban Institute of Meteorology cautioned residents due to previous heavy rainfall leaving the ground saturated. Several schools were closed in the country because of the threat from the storm. In Camagüey, thousands of cattle were moved to higher ground, and around 3,000 students working to harvest coffee crops were forced to return to their homes. A United States Naval Air Force base centered at Guantanamo Bay stacked sandbags to protect structures in low-lying areas.
As Noel approached, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued for the southeastern portion of the Bahamas, which included the Turks and Caicos Islands. Also, a Tropical Storm Warning existed for the northwestern Bahamas. In addition, a Tropical Storm Watch was posted for the central Bahamas, where most government offices were closed during the storm.
Late on October 31, a Tropical Storm Watch was issued for southeastern Florida, as tropical storm force winds were expected to come fairly close to the coast. In addition, Coastal Flood Warnings, High Surf Advisories, and High Wind Warnings were issued for the East Coast of the United States, namely the South and North Carolina coasts, along with similar advisories being posted for from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Ocean City, Maryland. A Coastal Flood Watch was posted for portions of New York, including Long Island. As Noel's extratropical remnants moved north along the Eastern Seaboard, Wind Advisories were issued for the coast of New England. Also, stores on Cape Cod were closed, with some of their having their windows boarded up. The U.S. Coast Guard completed preparations, and also warned sailors of the storm.
Prior to the storm's arrival in Atlantic Canada, heavy rain warnings as well as strong wind warnings were posted for many locations in southeastern Canada. The Canadian Hurricane Centre posted hurricane force wind warnings for waters located southwest of the Maritimes. Gale warnings were posted for waters elsewhere along the southeastern Canadian coast. The Halifax and Montreal Storm Prediction Centers of the Meteorological Service of Canada posted high wind warnings as well as heavy rain warnings for all areas of the Maritimes, Newfoundland, as well as Labrador and eastern Quebec; heavy snow warnings were also posted for some regions. Air Canada cancelled 13 of their flights in and out of Halifax. Throughout Nova Scotia, 500 Red Cross volunteers were placed on standby due to the threat from the then extratropical Noel.
Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico
The precursor disturbance that gave birth to Hurricane Noel produced heavy rainfall across the Lesser Antilles for several days prior to developing, with rainfall totalls unofficially reaching 6 inches on the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The precursor disturbance also produced heavy rainfall across Puerto Rico for several days, which left the ground saturated and caused surface runoff. Rainfall peaked at 17.23 inches at Cairte Lake. In addition, the storm produced flash flooding in Carolina, and it produced a mudslide in Utuado. Flooding was reported along several rivers, including the Río de la Plata. At Toa Baja, the river reached a peak crest of 8.9 feet above flood stage late on October 27. In response to the high water levels, officials opened dam gates along the Río de la Plata as well as the Río Carraízo. Noel is not believed to have caused any fatalities in Puerto Rico.
Rainfall totals in Puerto Rico from Noel's precursor disturbance.
The highest rainfall total reported from Noel in the Dominican Republic was 21.65 inches at Padre Las Casas. Residents in the path of the flooding fled to either roof tops or tree tops to avoid the raging floodwater. In addition, more than 50,000 residents left their homes. Around 1,000 prisoners were evacuated because of the flooding from Noel. The entire island was without electricity for around two hours. Two days later, one-third of the island's population was still without electricity. Noel's heavy rains caused flash flooding and mudslides, with buildings reportedly being swept down the sides of the mountains. The flooding damaged over 24,500 homes, and destroyed 6,000. Many rivers overflowed their banks, which produced flash flooding in valleys; 10 people were killed in the town of Piedra Blanca because of the flash flooding. In addition, the storm destroyed many roadways and bridges, which isolated some villages; at least 21 bridges throughout the country were either washed away or collapsed due to heavy rains caused by Noel. Just days after the storm passed, 1,522 people had to be rescued from floodwaters.
Noel also caused crop losses in the country, as well. The agricultural industry was mainly damaged in the form of damaged banana, tomato, and red onion crops, and production of fruit was completely lost in some areas. Total crop damage in the country reached $77.7 million (2007 USD). In addition, livestock losses were also reported. There was 40% damage of the water distribution, and 60% damage of 122 aqueducts. Due to the concerns of the threat of spreading disease, some medical centers reached maximum capacity. Noel left over 65,000 residents in the country homeless, and affected at least 46 bridges in some way with its flooding. Even so, because many villages were isolated, the exact totals may never be known.
Noel is the third wettest tropical cyclone in Haiti's history, producing 22.43 inches of rain at Camp Perrin. Despite this extreme total, rainfall totals throughout the rest of the country were generally in the 1 to 9 inch range. Five days of heavy rainfall caused flash flooding and mudslides throughout the country, which affected around 3,252 families. Also, the heavy rainfall caused rivers and creeks to become swollen, which forced some communities to evacuate. Around 500 homes were damaged by Noel, of which 400 were destroyed. Among the worst affected cities were Cayes, Cantaloupe, Camp Perrin, Chantal, Maniche, Holy louis of the South and Torbeck. Also, the main road leading to Port-au-Prince was blocked, and other roadways throughout the country were also blocked. The Haitian Civil Protection Office initially blamed Noel for 18 deaths in the country. Later on, the death toll rose to 73. Around 7,500 people in the country were left homeless, and 104 were injured.
In Jamaica, Noel produced heavy rainfall, triggering a mudslide that caused a house to collapse, killing the person inside. Also, the eastern end of the island was hit particularly hard by the storm, with several communities becoming isolated, and roadways and bridges were impassable in some areas. Noel's heavy rains produced at least 20 mudslides throughout Jamaica, one of which caused a large pile-up that lasted for several hours.
Noel produced rainfall amounts of 6 inches in just six hours in the town of Baracoa, which overflowed reservoirs in the town. The highest 24-hour rainfall total in Cuba associated with Noel was 14.3, which occured at Mangos de Baraguá. The storm also produced strong winds and rough seas along the northern portion of the coast. Noel also produced extensive flooding and mudslides, which caused damage to over 21,000 homes in the province of Granma alone; the aforementioned floods and mudslides destroyed around 120 homes in Camagüey. Noel's flooding isolated a few villages, and also destroyed more than 3.9 billion pounds of crops in the Ciego de Ávila Province. The heavy rains caused rainfall amounts to be 300% above normal in the province of Guantánamo; a dam in the province was overflowed because of the heavy rains. In the province of Santiago, about 250 miles of roadways were damaged by the storm. At least 98,000 residents evacuated due to the flooding; nearly 20,000 of those residents did so as a means to escape the Cauto River, which overflowed its banks. In addition, 40,000 of these people were in the Granma province. Many of the 98,000 evacuated residents stayed in storm shelters. At least 137 of Cuba's 239 rivers overflowed their banks because of the storm. Also, one person was killed in the country, and total damage is estimated at $500,000,000 (2007 USD).
Noel also produced heavy rainfall across the Bahamas, with rainfall amounts reaching a record 15 inches at one station. Sustained winds of 40 mph were reported throughout the northwestern and central portion of the islands. In addition, extensive flooding was reported, particularly on Abaco Island, which caused over 700 residents to evacuate. Long Island was hit hardest, where floodwaters were reportedly 5 feet deep, with residents on the island saying that the flooding was the worst that the island had seen in 60 years. Houses were several feet underwater in some locations, while roads throughout the Bahamas sustained some form of damage from the storm. The Deadman's Cay Airport was also flooded by the storm, and on Exuma, six of the nine schools on the island experienced significant damage. Around 16,000 residents were affected by flooding, including 10,000 on Long Island. The Nassau International Airport had to be closed because of the threat from Noel, and most cruise ships failed to arrive on schedule. A fatality occurred on the island of Exuma abandoned a stall truck, and was subsequently swept away by floodwaters into a nearby pond. When Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham visited hard-hit areas to assess the damage, he stated that it would be possible for Public Works to "be able to get some pumps in to pump some of the water out." However, he also noted that, "In some areas that will be very difficult because you have ponds on both sides of the road.
Noel made its closest approach to Florida on November 2. The interaction between Noel and a ridge of high pressure to the north produced gusty winds and rough seas along the eastern portion of the state. Throughout Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Broward counties, 5,000 customers lost electricity. In addition, Noel produced extensive beach erosion along the coast, causing around $4,000,000 (2007 USD) in damage. A 20 foot sand dune near West Palm Beach was eroded to its foundation. In other beaches, large portions of beach were washed away, which raised concern about structures along the immediate coast.
As an extratropical cyclone, Noel interacted with a building ridge of high pressure to the northwest, and the resulting pressure gradient produced strong winds along the Outer Banks, mainly on November 2. At Cedar Island, sustained winds of 43 mph were reported. From Cape Lookout northward, winds gusted to around 60 mph. In addition, Noel produced high waves, which flooded North Carolina Highway 12 with up to 5 feet of water and sand on November 3. Total damage in North Carolina from Noel reached $72,000 (2007 USD).
Noel also produced strong winds across several states along the Eastern Seaboard. Beach erosion was reported in New Jersey, in some cases eroding a 10 foot vertical drop. On Long Island, strong winds downed trees and power lines.
Noel's western side struck New England on November 3, with Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine experiencing hurricane force gusts. In Massachusetts, the highest wind gust reported in association with the storm was 89 mph, with sustained winds peaking at 59 mph. The strong winds downed trees throughout Cape Cod. In Cutler Rainwise, Maine, rainfall peaked at 5.03 inches, while other reports ranged from 2 to 4 inches across the state. In northern Maine, temperatures were cold enough to produce snow, and 6 inches fell. High surf caused flooding along the coast, with Nantucket Island and Martha's Vineyard experiencing the most severe flooding. In addition, widespread power outages were reported, with around 80,000 customers in Massachusetts losing electricity, mostly in Cape Cod. In Maine, around 9,000 customers lost electricity due to Noel. No fatalities occurred throughout New England, and no significant damage was reported.
On November 3 and 4, Noel began to impact Atlantic Canada. Many flights out of several airports were canceled, and around 150,000 residents in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia lost electricity for several days due to strong winds and salt fog disabling the power grid. On Prince Edward Island, around 10,000 customers lost electricity. In addition to the power outages, flooding was also reported. Newfoundland escaped the storm relatively unscathed, although ferries between it and Nova Scotia were canceled for the weekend, and winds reached as high as 113 mph at Wreckhouse. Noel produced 2.8 inches of rain in some areas, along with waves in excess of 40 feet off the coast of Nova Scotia. Several roadways were also washed out by the storm, with boulders tossed far onshore by the high surf. One fish farm in Nova Scotia received $1,000,000 damage alone, and lost almost all of its catch.
In eastern Quebec, up to 5 inches of rain fell in Gaspésie, Anticosti, and Eastern Côte-Nord, which produced flooding in some locations. In the Bas-Saint-Laurent, Sept-Îles and Baie-Comeau regions, as much as 8 inches of snow fell, which resulted in a bus accident that caused 10 injuries near Saint-Simon. Heavy rains flooded the water treatment facility in Percé, which left the city under an advisory to boil water. In addition, the city was isolated from the rest of the province as the heavy rainfall made a short section of Quebec Route 132 temporarily unusable. Just under 19,000 customers using Hydro-Québec lost electricity, and activity was affected at several power plants in Côte-Nord, which included plants in the aluminum sector. Also, a major transmission line in the Minganie region was damaged by heavy wet snow as well as freezing rain, which caused power outages as well as school closures. Noel killed one person in the country when a boat collapsed.
Snowfall (left) and rainfall totals (right) in Atlantic Canada from Noel.
Because of the damage and loss of life, the name Noel was retired in the Spring of 2008 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was replaced with Nestor for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.