Tropical Storm Gabrielle was the seventh named storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. Gabrielle developed on September 8 about 360 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Gabrielle was initially subtropical in nature, but ultimately developed into a fully tropical cyclone before making landfall along the North Carolina coast near the Cape Lookout National Seashore on September 9. Gabrielle then exited the coast near Kill Devil Hills less than 12 hours later, turned east-northeast and out to sea, weakening as it did so. Gabrielle dissipated on September 11.
Gabrielle caused no reported fatalities, and only minimal damage.
|Formation||September 8, 2007|
|Dissipation||September 11, 2007|
|Highest winds||60 mph|
|Lowest pressure||1004 Millibars|
|Areas affected||North Carolina|
|Part of the||2007 Atlantic hurricane season|
The incipient weather system from which Gabrielle was born was a low pressure area that developed along the coast of Georgia on September 3. The low developed along a frontal zone that initially moved off the southeastern coast of the United States on September 1. After forming, the aforementioned low weakened and became ill-defined on September 5 and 6. However, the next day, an upper-level trough in the western Atlantic Ocean began to cut off several hundred miles southwest of Bermuda. This mid- to upper-level low moved slowly southwestward and reinforced vigor over the low pressure area that was first observed on September 3, and that was now located over the western Atlantic. A reconnaissance aircraft mission on the afternoon of September 7 was unable to find a well-defined center of circulation within the low, although the aircraft did report flight-level winds consistent with surface winds of tropical storm force. Late on September 7, satellite imagery indicated that the circulation had become better defined, and based on the improved satellite signature, along with earlier recon reports, it is estimated that the low developed into Subtropical Storm Gabrielle at around 0000 UTC September 8 while located about 360 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. During the next 12 hours, Gabrielle's satellite signature remained that of a subtropical cyclone, with the main band of thunderstorm activity being located well north of the center, far removed from it. This band gradually weakened, and new convectiond developed just to the northwest of the cyclone's circulation center, which indicated that Gabrielle was acquiring tropical characteristics. Gabrielle made the transition into a tropical storm at 1800 UTC September 8. Early on September 9, Gabrielle was moving northwest towards the North Carolina coast, slowly strengthening as it did so. Before it reached the North Carolina coast, data from a reconnaissance aircraft indicated that the circulation center reformed closer to the deep convection, which resulted in some additional strengthening of the cyclone.
Gabrielle reached its peak intensity of 60 mph at 1200 UTC September 9 while located just southeast of Cape Lookout. A few hours later, the cyclone made landfall along the Cape Lookout National Seashore, although strong northerly wind shear displaced the deepest convection south of the circulation, which kept the strongest winds offshore eastern North Carolina. Shortly after landfall, Gabrielle began to weaken due to the aforementioned northerly shear along with land interaction. Gabrielle turned northeastward while located over extreme eastern North Carolina, exiting the coast near Kill Devil Hills just after 0000 UTC September 10. After moving back into the Atlantic Ocean, convection steadily decreased and became well-removed from the center of circulation, and by 0600 UTC that day, Gabrielle weakened to a tropical depression. Gabrielle moved east-northeastward, passing well to the southeast of the northeastern United States. Gabrielle's circulation continued to spin down, and it dissipated ahead of an approaching frontal zone by 1200 UTC September 11, when it was located about 300 miles south-southwest of Nova Scotia.
As Gabrielle became a subtropical cyclone, a Tropical Storm Watch was issued from Edisto Beach, South Carolina to Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, including the Pamlico Sound. As Gabrielle approached the coast, the watch south of Cape Fear was discontinued, and a Tropical Storm Warning was issued from Surf City, North Carolina to North Carolina/Virgnia border, while a watch was issued northward to Cape Charles Light along the Delmarva Peninsula, and to New Point Comfort along the western shores of the Chesapeake Bay. The next day, this watch was upgraded to a warning.
Prior to the storm's landfall, the National Park Service closed visitor centers as well as campgrounds along the Outer Banks. For about 12 hours, the ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke was closed. North Carolina Governor Mike Easley placed rescue teams as well as the National Guard on standby. Residents and tourists were advised to secure loose objects, as well as remain indoors. Because Gabrielle's impact was expected to be minor, no evacuation orders were issued. Boats were hauled out on Ocracoke Island. Gabrielle also forced the cancellation of a fishing tournament in Atlantic Beach, which resulted in effects to the local economy.
Initially, uncertainty in the eventual track of Gabrielle caused the National Hurricane Center's 5-day cone to include the Mid-Atlantic region, southeastern New York, as well as southern New England, within the cone of uncertainty. Rough surf and rip currents were predicted, which prompted the Coast Guard to preform reparations in the northeastern United States. At Cape Cod, Massachusetts, an HU-25 Falcon jet flew along the coastline, delivering storm information to offshore vessels. In addition, a Coast Guard patrol boat was deployed offshore for search and rescue. Boaters and mariners were advised to exercise caution, and told to make safe decisions. Despite this, Gabrielle ended up turning well to the south of the northeastern United States, sparing it from any effects.
By early on September 9, Gabrielle's outer rainbands began affecting the southeastern North Carolina coast. Sustained tropical storm force winds were reported along the coast, with an unofficial report of 44 mph at Frisco. Wind gusts as high 61 mph were reported at Ocracoke Island. Rough surf was also reported along the coast, with wave heights reaching as 10 to 12 feet. Rip currents caused numerous swimmers to need rescuing. Heavy rainfall from Gabrielle was confined to an area near its immediate landfall location, as northerly shear kept most of the shower activity removed from the circulation center, and offshore coastal North Carolina. Rainfall peaked at 9.03 inches at a station 7 miles east-northeast of Newport, with other areas reporting 4 to 8 inches of rain. Two offshore vessels also experienced tropical storm force winds, although the reports were considered to be overestimated ones. Gabrielle's rainfall caused flooding in some areas, which prevented farmers from harvesting their crops. Gabrielle failed to alleviate drought conditions, as was hoped. Gabrielle also left a portion of North Carolina Highway 12 on Hatteras Island closed for three hours, as it briefly flooded part of the roadway. In addition, streets in Beaufort and Morehead City were closed, and several homes and businesses received minor flooding. In Carteret County, flooding caused $5,000 (2007 USD) in damage.
Storm surge was minimal, reaching only 3 feet at Hatteras Island. Total damage in the state was minor, and no injuries or fatalities were reported in association with Gabrielle.
Rainfall totals from Tropical Storm Gabrielle.
Lack of Retirement
Because of the lack of any real damage, the name Gabrielle was not retired in the Spring of 2008 by the World Meteorological Organization. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.