Tropical Storm Fay was the sixth named storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Fay was a long-lived tropical storm that developed on August 15 just offshore the western coast of Puerto Rico. Fay would spend most of its lifetime overland, battering many Caribbean nations with heavy rainfall. Fay would ultimately make four Florida landfalls, its first near Key West on August 18, and its last near Carrabelle on August 23. Fay produced torrential rainfall across portions of Florida, as it meandered there for days; some areas, such as Melbourne, received as much as 30 inches of rain from the slow-moving tropical storm. Fay was an unusual storm in that it intensified after making landfall in Florida.
Fay caused $560,000,000 (2008 USD) in damage as well as 36 deaths.
|Formation||August 15, 2008|
|Dissipation||August 26, 2008|
|Highest winds||70 mph|
|Lowest pressure||986 mbar|
|Deaths||13 direct, 23 indirect|
|Damages||$560,000,000 (2008 USD)|
|Areas affected||Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas, Florida, southeastern United States|
|Part of the||2008 Atlantic hurricane season|
The tropical wave from which Fay would ultimately develop moved off the coast of Africa on August 6. The wave moved quickly west-northwest across the Atlantic Ocean, producing only limited thunderstorm activity. By August 14, however, the wave significantly slowed down, with its forward speed decreasing from 20 to 25 knots all the way down to 10 to 15 knots, which could have contributed to the robust convective development that was observed in the wave later that day. Later that day, the wave turned westward, and surface observations and QuikSCAT data indicated that a well-defined low-pressure area had developed along the wave axis. However, the low-level circulation associated with the wave moved westward across the southern coast of Puerto Rico, and the mountainous terrain of that island nation limited further intensification of the wave. By early on August 15, the wave had emerged into the Mona Passage, and convection once again increased, and it is estimated that the wave spawned a tropical depression at around 1200 UTC that day while just west of the northwestern tip of Puerto Rico. Due to the influence of a strong ridge to its north, the newly developed tropical cyclone moved westward across the Mona Passage and made landfall near El Cabo, Dominican Republic at 1430 UTC August 15. Despite passage overland, the depression strengthened into a tropical storm at around 1800 UTC that same day, based on flight-level wind data from a reconnaissance aircraft. In spite of moving across the southern portion of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Fay retained its status as a tropical storm as indicated by reconnaissance and ship observations. Fay continued moving westward, making landfall near the eastern end of Gonave Island in Haiti at around 1145 UTC August 16.
Tropical Storm Fay battering Hispaniola.
Later that day, after Fay moved across the Windward Passage, it turned to the west-northwest and intensified slightly under favorable upper-level conditions before making landfall along the south-central coast of Cuba about 20 miles east of Cabo Cruz near 0900 UTC August 17. Early on August 18, Fay turned northwestward and made landfall near Cienfuegos, Cuba at around 0700 UTC. Fay emerged into the Florida Straits around 1200 UTC that same day, encountering some southwesterly vertical wind shear as well as some mid-level dry air, which limited significant intensification prior to the cyclone's landfall near Key West at 2030 UTC August 18. After passing north of Key West and into the warm waters of Florida Bay, data from doppler radars as well as reconnaissance aircraft indicated that Fay was becoming better organized as the shear began to decrease. At 0845 UTC August 19, Fay made another Florida landfall, this time between Cape Romano and Everglades City. At the time of landfall, Fay's winds were estimated to be at 65 mph.
Shortly after landfall, the cyclone exhibited a well-defined eye in both satellite imagery and doppler radar imagery, possibly due to decreasing vertical shear and increasing low-level frictional convergence. Despite being overland, Fay is estimated to have strengthened slightly after landfall, reaching its peak intensity of 70 mph, just under hurricane status, around 1800 UTC that day while located near the western end of Lake Okeechobee. From 0929 UTC August 19 until 0212 UTC August 20, the aforementioned eye feature remained evident in doppler radar imagery. Thereafter, the cyclone steadily weakened until it emerged into the western Atlantic Ocean off the east-central coast of Florida late that day. On August 21, steering currents collapsed as a large mid-to upper-level trough eroded the western portion of the subtropical ridge across Florida. This pattern caused Fay to turn northward and slow its forward speed significantly, to as low as 3 to 4 knots. During this time, Fay skirted the coast in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral. Also during this time, convective banding began to develop and persist inland across east-central Florida in regions of enhanced frictional convergence. Also, the cyclone's remarkably slow forward speed allowed rainfall to accumulate across the same areas for several hours. As the aforementioned mid-level trough weakened and moved off to the north, the ridge to the north of Fay built in westward across the southeastern United States. Consequently, the cyclone turned back to the west late on August 21. At around 1900 UTC that day, Fay made a third landfall near Flagler Beach.
Fay continued moving generally westward across northern Florida, and late on August 22, Fay emerged into the extreme northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Fay made its fourth and final Florida landfall just southwest of Carrabelle along the Florida Panhandle at around 0615 UTC August 23. Shortly after landfall, Fay turned to the west-northwest and weakened into a tropical depression by 0000 UTC August 24 while located northeast of Pensacola, Florida. Early on August 24, Fay moved slowly northwestward across southwestern Alabama and then turned to the southwest while over southeastern Mississippi later that day before executing a brief stall near McComb around 0000 UTC August 25. At this time, a mid-level trough moved southward and then eastward from the central plains, which caused Fay to steadily move off to the northeast across eastern Mississippi, northern Alabama, and extreme southeastern Tennessee from August 25 to August 27. At around 0600 UTC August 27, Fay merged with an old frontal zone and became an extratropical cyclone over eastern Tennessee northeast of Chattanooga. Fay's extratropical remnants continued moving northeastward, where they became absorbed by a larger extratropical cyclone that was located over eastern Kentucky by 0600 UTC August 28.
At 2100 UTC August 15, as Fay developed, a Tropical Storm Watch was issued from Holguin to Las Tunas, Cuba. At the same time, a Tropical Storm Warning was posted for the central and southeastern Bahamas, including the Turks & Caicos Islands. A Tropical Storm Warning was also posted for the northern coast of Haiti from Gonaives northward, as well as for the Dominican Republic from the Haiti border northward to San Pedro de Macoris. Finally, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued from Guantanamo to Granma, Cuba. On August 16, the Tropical Storm Warning was extended to Gonaives, Haiti to the Dominican Republic border northward, and also from Port Au Prince to the Dominican Republic border northward. At 1500 UTC August 16, a Tropical Storm Watch was issued for the island of Jamaica as well as the Cayman Islands.
At 0900 UTC August 17, as Fay approached Florida, a Tropical Storm Watch was issued from Ocean Reef to Jupiter Inlet, and also for Lake Okeechobee. At the same time, a Hurricane Watch was posted from the Dry Tortugas to Ocean Reef as well as from Card Sound Bridge to Bonita Beach. At 1500 UTC August 18, when it was predicted that Fay had a slight possibility to come ashore Florida as a hurricane, a Hurricane Warning was issued from Flamingo to Anna Maria Island. Various Hurricane Warnings would later be posted for sections of the Florida coast, only to ultimately be dropped as Fay failed to strengthen significantly. On August 23, a Tropical Storm Warning was issued for the central Gulf Coast from the Suwanee River westward to the Alabama-Mississippi border; this warning would later be extended westward to Pearl River, Mississippi. A Tropical Storm Watch was also issued from Pearl River, Mississippi westward to Grand Isle, Louisiana.
On August 15, the precursor tropical wave to Fay triggered torrential rainfall in Hispaniola. The rains were heavy enough to produce the threat of flash flooding.
Fay produced minor damage across the Dominican Republic, including fallen trees as well as some flooding, which caused most of the flights in and out of the country to be canceled. At least four people were killed in the country by Fay after they were swept away by floodwaters.
Fay caused some damage to the agricultural industry in Haiti, including damage to the rice and banana crops. One person was killed after being swept away by floodwaters while trying to access a swollen river. In addition, two children were killed in the country when a bus flipped over. Fay killed at least 10 people in the island nation of Haiti.
Fay produced an EF2 tornado in Wellington, where it caused extensive damage, including doors and windows being blown off houses, along with many trees being knocked down, and finally, the destruction of a weak building. Fay spawned another tornado which caused damage to 51 homes, with 9 of them being labeled as uninhabitable in Barefoot Bay. According to the St. Lucie County Public Safety Department, around 8,000 homes were damaged by flooding caused by days of torrential rainfall from slow-moving Tropical Storm Fay. The rains were so heavy, in fact, that Melbourne broke a rainfall record that had stood for 50 years after it received 11 inches of rain from the tropical cyclone in just 24 hours. Around 80 neighborhoods in the city were flooded, and a couple hundred homes in the southeastern portion of the city were flooded with as much as 3 to 4 feet of water. One neighborhood in particular was extremely hard hit by Fay: Lamplighter Village along John Rodes Boulevard. The damage in the aforementioned neighborhood was so extensive that Governor Charlie Christ personally visited the neighborhood as a means to assess the damage.
Fay spawned another tornado in Stuart on U.S. 1 at Monroe Street, which flipped a truck and caused some damage to a gas station. A 28 year old kite surfer was seriously injured in Fort Lauderdale when strong winds associated with one of Fay's rainbands slammed him face first into the ground and then subsequently dragged him into the streets until he hit a building; this whole incident was filmed by a WFOR camera crew. Fay produced as much as 25 inches of rain across some portions of Florida, which triggered widespread and destructive flash flooding in some areas. Because of the high water, alligators were seen in flooded neighborhoods. The rains flooded hundreds of homes in Brevard and St. Lucie counties, with some locations getting up to 5 feet of standing water, with early estimates from Brevard County indicating around $10 to $12,000,000 (2008 USD) in damage to homes and infrastructure. Fay also caused two drowning deaths: one in Neptune Beach, and another in Duval County. Fay also killed an additional three people in traffic accidents. Fay also caused extensive damage in Seminole County, with public schools in the area closed due to many impassable roads, owing to the floodwaters caused by Fay's torrential rains. Many rivers across the county, including the St. Johns River, the Econlockhatchee River, and the Little Econlockhatchee River, overflowed their banks due to heavy rain caused by Fay. Riverside Park in Oviedo was under as much as four feet of water at one point. Fay also spawned a tornado in Lake Wales that caused damage to four homes and a bridge.
Once Fay had moved inland across the Florida Panhandle, a total of five people were killed, albeit indirectly.
On August 21, President George W. Bush declared the entire state a federal disaster area.
Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi
In addition to the torrential rainfall that fell across Florida, Fay also produced heavy rainfall across portions of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, with a young boy being killed in Grady County, Georgia when Fay's floodwaters swept him away into a drainage ditch. In addition, Fay drowned one person in Elmore County, Alabama. On August 22, the Alabama radio station WNUZ reported direct lightning strikes from Fay, which completely destroyed the transmitter as well as damaged other electrical broadcast equipment at the station. The station applied to the FCC for authority to stay silent while their engineers repaired or replaced the damaged electrical gear and evaluated the station's other equipment.
On December 24, 2008, WNUZ granted permission to remain off the air until no later than June 22, 2009.
Fay produced 6 tornadoes across Georgia and 8 across Alabama, including two in Commerce, Georgia.
Fay's strong winds caused damage to the Midway, Alabama water tower, which exacerbated water problems that the town was already experiencing prior to the arrival of the tropical cyclone. A loan from the National Rural Water Association, coupled with assistance from the Alabama Rural Water Association enabled Midway to repair the aforementioned water tower and maintain its water supply.
Fay's heavy rains, though catastrophic in some areas, helped to relieve an ongoing drought across northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee.
Rainfall totals from Tropical Storm Fay.
Fay was the first Atlantic tropical cyclone in the historical record to make a total of four landfalls in the same state, with the storm making a total of four landfalls in Florida, beating the previous record of three landfalls in the same state that 1994's Hurricane Gordon previously held. The only other storm aside from these two to make three or more landfalls in the United States was Hurricane Juan in 1985. Fay was also the first tropical cyclone on record to cause the issuance of watches and warnings across the entire state of Florida.
Lack of Retirement
Despite the flooding in Florida, Fay was not retired in the Spring of 2009, and is on the list of names to be used for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.