Tropical Storm Earl was the fifth named storm of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. Earl formed on August 13 at a very low latitude well to the east of the Windward Islands. Earl moved quickly to the west-northwest, and it lost its closed surface circulation in the eastern Carribean Sea on August 15. Earl is remembered mainly because of the threat it was expected to pose to Florida early on in its life. Florida had just been devastated by Hurricane Charley when Earl formed on August 13.
Earl caused no damage or deaths.
|Formation||August 13, 2004|
|Dissipation||August 15, 2004|
|Highest winds||50 mph|
|Lowest pressure||1009 mbar|
|Areas affected||Windward Islands|
|Part of the||2004 Atlantic hurricane season|
Earl formed from a tropical wave that exited the coast of Africa on August 10. The wave moved westward across the Atlantic Ocean at a very low latitude of around 8 to 9°N. On August 13, the wave developed into Tropical Depression Five while located 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. After forming, the depression was embedded within a deep easterly flow to the south of a strong subtropical ridge. The depression moved westward at a swift foward speed of 18 to 25 knots during its 48 hours of existance. Based on the development of banding features as well as Dvorak classifications that were initiated on the cyclone, it is estimated that it became Tropical Storm Earl on August 14 while located 325 miles east of Barbados. Earl moved quickly through the southern portion of the Windward Islands on August 15 with sustained winds of 50 mph, and it managed to bring tropical storm or near tropical storm force winds to Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Shortly after crossing the Windward Islands and entering the eastern Carribean Sea, even though Earl appeared to be well-organized in satellite imagery, a hurricane hunter aircraft indicated that the circulation was not well-defined, possibly due to the fast foward speed of the cyclone. Later on August 15, Earl degenerated into a tropical wave. The wave was tracked all the way to the East Pacific where it developed into Hurricane Frank on August 23.
Several hundered people in Grenada were evacuated from low-lying areas to schools which were set up as shelters. Shopkeepers boarded up their windows, while airports temporarily closed prior the arrival of the cyclone.
Initially, it was forecast that Earl would strengthen considerably and reach hurricane status and possibly pose a threat to Florida, which had already been Hurricane Charley. Local officials urged residents to exercise caution, but not to panic due to the significant errors in long-range forecasting.
Gusty winds tore the roofs off of about 30 houses in Grenada, while 10 homes were damaged in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Airports were closed on St. Vincent and Grenada because of the threat from Earl. Minor flooding and a few mudslides were reported in Grenada. On the island of Tobago, Earl produced strong winds which downed trees and power lines, leaving 90% of the island without electricity for a time. Throughout the region, some banana crops were reported to have experienced damage from the storm. Tree damage was also reported throughout the eastern Carribean Sea. Earl caused minor damage overall, however, and no deaths were attributed to it.
Lack of Retirement
Because of the lack of significant damage, the name Earl was not retired in the Spring of 2005 by the World Meteorological Organization. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.