Tropical Storm Frances was the sixth named storm of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season. Frances developed from a broad area of low pressure that was originally over the southwestern Carribean Sea on September 4. On September 8, the low became a tropical depression and on September 9, Tropical Storm Frances developed from the depression. Frances struck Corpus Christi, Texas as a 65 mph tropical storm.

Frances caused $500,000,000 (1998 USD) in damage, and killed 2 people; one direct, and one indirect.

Frances at peak intensity
Formation September 8, 1998
Dissipation September 13, 1998
Highest winds 65 mph
Lowest pressure 994 mbar
Deaths 1 direct, 1 indirect
Damages $500,000,000 (1998 USD)
Areas affected Texas, western Louisiana, Midwestern United States

Meteorological History

A broad area of disturbed weather developed in the southwestern Carribean Sea on September 4. The area of disturbed weather moved to the northwest and slowly organized as it did so, developing a low-pressure area on September 8 while it was located over the Gulf of Mexico. The formation of this low coincided with a large area of convection in the western Gulf of Mexico. The large system continued to organize, and later on September 8, it became Tropical Depression Six while located 160 miles southeast of Brownsville, Texas. Initially, the depression was extremely large, and because it did not have a distinct center of circulation it resembled a monsoon depression that is commonly seen in the West Pacific and the northern Indian Ocean. The large depression drifted to the south and became Tropical Storm Frances on September 9. Afterward, Frances turned to the northwest and strengthened some more because of warm water temperatures of 30°C, weak vertical wind shear, and finally because of a large anticyclone aloft. Just prior to landfall, Frances strengthened to reach its peak of 65 mph and a pressure of 994 mb. Frances struck near Corpus Christi, Texas on September 11.

Shortly after making landfall, Frances executed a small loop, then turned to the north and dissipated on September 13. The remnants of Frances then persisted another day before dissipating over Iowa on September 14.


Frances produced little wind damage, but it nevertheless did $500,000,000 (1998 USD) in damage, with most of this damage occuring from flooding. In addition, Frances killed 1 person directly, and 1 person indirectly. Finally, several counties in the state of Texas and several parishes in the state of Louisiana were declared disaster areas after Frances, allowing the affected residents to apply for aid.


The main inflow band of the system that formed Tropical Storm Frances remained stationary across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec for several days, which led to extreme flooding rainfall. The highest rainfall amount reported from the precursor disturbance of Frances was 44.06 inches at Independencia/Escuintla.


In Texas, Frances produced significant amounts of rainfall, which led to flooding across southeastern Texas. In Matagorda County, a peak rainfall amount of 17 inches was reported from Tropical Storm Frances, with many other locations in the state of Texas reporting 10 inches of rain from the storm, and this resulted in significant flood damage. In Harris County and the city of Houston, severe flooding was reported. More than 1,400 homes and businesses in and around the city of Houston were either damaged or destroyed by flooding from Frances. Also, three main highways in Houston were washed out, leaving many motorists stranded. Also, flooding was reported along the San Bernard River, with several roads and a subdivision being flooded there. Finally, the flooding disrupted barge traffic at the Phillips Petroleum Facility.

Frances making landfall in Texas.


In Louisiana, Frances dumped up to 11 inches of rain on western Louisiana, despite the storm making landfall well away from that location. Frances produced a storm surge of 5.1 feet in the city of Cameron in southwestern Louisiana. The surge swept away five houses, destroyed a fishing pier, and also managed to submerge Grand Isle. Also, a tornado spawned by Frances's outer rainbands killed one person in Lafourche Parish, and it injured six other people, and it also severely damaged a trailer park. Finally, Frances caused one indirect death in the New Orleans area, due to an automobile accident.

Lack of Retirement

Because damage was not extreme, the name Frances was not retired in the Spring of 1999 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was retired in 2004, however, and was replaced with Fiona for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

1998 Atlantic hurricane season