Tropical Storm Grace was the seventh named storm of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. Grace formed on August 30 in the western Gulf of Mexico. Grace reached only 40 mph winds before its landfall along the upper Texas coast. Grace dissipated on September 2.
Grace caused $113,000 (2003 USD) in damage but caused no fatalities.
|Formation||August 30, 2003|
|Dissipation||September 2, 2003|
|Highest winds||40 mph|
|Lowest pressure||1007 mbar|
|Damages||$113,000 (2003 USD)|
|Areas affected||Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic States|
|Part of the||2003 Atlantic hurricane season|
On August 19, a strong tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa. The wave moved westward across the Atlantic Ocean, and was accompanied by a low-pressure area as it moved off the coast of Africa. The wave quickly developed banding features and cirrus outflow near the developing convection. On August 21, the wave almost became a tropical cyclone, but its fast foward speed decoupled the low-level circulation center from the deep convection. The wave continued across the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean and entered a dry environment in the central Atlantic Ocean, and by late on August 22, most of the wave's convection had dissipated. As the wave passed through the Lesser Antilles on August 24, convection increased once again, although strong southwesterly upper-level shear prevented further development of the wave. The wave moved through the Carribean Sea, and once over the Gulf of Honduras on August 28, the wave developed deeper convection in response to a more favorable upper-level environment. The wave crossed the Yucatan Peninsula and upon entering the Gulf of Mexico on August 29, it developed a surface low. The wave's convection continued to organize, and on August 30, it developed into Tropical Depression Eleven while located 335 miles south-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas. After forming, the depression moved northwest, and six hours after forming, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Grace. However, despite the increase in winds, the depression's circulation remained very broad, with hurricane hunter aircraft having difficulties in pinpointing a center location. In addition to that, an upper-level low over Brownsville, Texas produced strong shear over the western portion of the cyclone, which caused outflow to be limited to the eastern portion of the cyclone.
Forecasters predicted that the upper-level low would weaken, and that Grace would intensify to a 65 mph tropical storm. However, despite the predictions, the upper-level low remained in place, and continued to produce shear over the cyclone. A new circulation center reformed 115 miles to the north of the original one. On August 31, Grace made landfall near San Luis Pass, Texas located along the southwestern portion of Galveston Island, as a minimal tropical storm with 40 mph winds. After landfall, Grace quickly weakened to a tropical depression, and moved northeastward into Oklahoma, where it was absorbed by a cold front.
3 hours after forming, officials issued a Tropical Storm Warning from High Island, Texas to Corpus Christi, Texas. Also, local National Weather Service offices issued a voluntary evacuation for the western portion of Galveston Island, including Jamaica Beach, the Bolivar Peninsula, and the coastal areas of Brazoria and Matagorda Counties. Despite the evacuation order, few residents actually left. Also, local emergency management officials predicted tides of up to 5 feet above normal, along with coastal flooding.
Grace produced moderate amounts of rainfall across its path, peaking in south Texas. Later on, Grace merged with a cold front, which later on dropped heavy rainfall in the midwestern United States. In addition to the cyclone's impact on the United States mainland, Grace's outer rainbands produced light rainfall in Yucatan and northern Tamaulipas.
Rainfall totals from Tropical Storm Grace.
In Texas, Grace produced a 3.5 foot storm surge in Matagorda and North Jetty upon making landfall. Sustained winds peaked at 40 mph, with gusts as high as 53 mph at Sea Rim State Park. Locations closer to where the cyclone made landfall reported winds below tropical storm-force, with the exception of Galveston, which recorded a wind gust of 40 mph. Grace dropped moderate to heavy rainfall across eastern Texas, peaking at 10.36 inches in Spindletop Bayou. Also, Grace's outer rainbands spawned a waterspout just south of the western tip of Galveston Island, which prompted the issuance of a tornado warning. However, before the waterspout moved onshore, it dissipated. Grace also produced light beach erosion, although little erosion occured beyond what was caused by Hurricane Claudette, which struck earlier in the season. Near the coast, high tides from the cyclone flooded piers, bulkheads, and low-lying areas. Further inland, heavy rainfall produced by the tropical storm caused flash flooding, which covered roads and entered a few homes. Overall, however, damage in Texas from Tropical Storm Grace was minimal, reaching only $113,000 (2003 USD).
In Oklahoma, moisture from the storm, combined with a slow-moving cold front, produced heavy rainfall across the state, peaking at 8.98 inches in Courtney. Due to below normal precipitation by as much as 5 to 10 inches, flooding was localized and overall minimal. Near Medford, the rainfall lead to 2 foot deep flooding on U.S. Highway 81, forcing its closure. The rainfall was welcome in the state, and lessened the rainfall deficit.
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas
Grace, combined with the slow-moving cold front, produced light to moderate rainfall across the southern portion of the United States, with isolated locations in Louisiana and Mississippi reporting over 3 inches of rain. Northeastern Arkansas received over 5 inches of rain from the storm.
Ohio Valley and Eastern United States
In Missouri, the cold front combined with moisture from the remnants of Grace brought relief to a severe drought that was affecting the state. This relief was caused by moderately heavy rainfall of up to 5 inches in the southeastern portion of the state. In the city of Poplar Bluff, the heavy rains led to severe flooding, which resulted in rescues for people trapped in their vehicles. Also, Grace's remnants produced over 5 inches of rain in northern Kentucky. Grace's remnant moisture produced heavy rainfall across Indiana, including a record one day total of 7 inches at Indianapolis, while other locations picked up over 9 inches of rain. Residents prepared sandbags in order to prevent rivers and creeks from overflowing. Despite this attempt, rising waters entered streets and over 700 homes. The rapid rainfall in Indianapolis backed up the sewage system, which sent hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage into the streets in Indianapolis. After the flood event in the state, the governor declared a state of emergency for the state. Eight local American Red Cross teams arrived to provide meals as well as aid to the affected citizens.
Grace's remnants produced moderate to heavy rainfall across the Mid-Atlantic States as well as New England. Locations in extreme western Maryland as well as southeastern Virginia picked up over 5 inches of rain from the cyclone's remnants. Hagerstown, Maryland picked up 3.94 inches of rain from the storm's remnants, which resulted in flash flooding. In Washington County, the storm produced 1.09 inches of rain, a new daily record. However, damage in Maryland, if any, is unknown.
Lack of Retirement
Because of the minimal damage, the name Grace was not retired in the Spring of 2004 by the World Meteorological Organization. It is on the list of names to be used for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane sesason.