Hurricane Ivan was a large, long-lived, Cape Verde-type hurricane that caused widespread damage in the Caribbean and United States. The cyclone was the ninth named storm, the sixth hurricane and the fourth major hurricane of the active 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. Ivan formed in early September, and reached Category 5 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.
Ivan caused catastrophic damage to Grenada as a strong Category 3 storm, heavy damage to Jamaica as a strong Category 4 storm and then Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands and the western tip of Cuba as a Category 5 storm. After peaking in strength, the hurricane moved north-northwest across the Gulf of Mexico to strike Pensacola/Milton, Florida and Alabama as a strong Category 3 storm, causing significant damage. Ivan dropped heavy rains on the Southeastern United States as it progressed northeast and east through the eastern United States, becoming an extratropical cyclone. The remnant low from the storm moved into the western subtropical Atlantic and regenerated into a tropical cyclone, which then moved across Florida and the Gulf of Mexico into Louisiana and Texas, causing minimal damage. Ivan caused an estimated 26.1 billion (2004 USD) along its path, of which 20.5 billion occurred in the United States.
On September 2, 2004, Tropical Depression Nine formed from a large tropical wave southwest of Cape Verde. As the system moved to the west, it strengthened gradually, becoming Tropical Storm Ivan on September 3 and reaching hurricane strength on September 5, 1,150 miles (1,850 km) to the east of Tobago. Later that day, the storm intensified rapidly, and by 5 pm EDT (2100 UTC), Ivan became a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 miles per hour (200 km/h). The National Hurricane Center said that the rapid strengthening of Ivan on September 5 was unprecedented at such a low latitude in the Atlantic basin.
As it moved east, Ivan weakened slightly because of wind shear in the area. The storm passed over Grenada on September 7, battering several of the Windward Islands. As it entered the Caribbean Sea, Ivan reintensified rapidly and became a Category 5 hurricane just north of the Windward Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao and Bonaire) and Aruba on September 9 with winds reaching 160 mph (260 km/h). Ivan weakened slightly as it moved west-northwest towards Jamaica. As Ivan approached the island late on September 10, it began a westward jog that kept the eye and the strongest winds to the south and west. However, because of its proximity to the Jamaican coast, the island was battered with hurricane-force winds for hours.
After passing Cuba, Ivan resumed a more northerly track and regained Category 5 strength. Ivan's strength continued to fluctuate as it moved west on September 11, and the storm attained its highest winds of 163 mph (262 km/h) as it passed within 30 miles (50 km) of Grand Cayman. Ivan reached its peak strength with a minimum central pressure of 910 millibars (27 inHg) on September 12. Ivan passed through the Yucatán Channel late on September 13 while its eyewall affected the westernmost tip of Cuba. Once over the Gulf of Mexico, it weakened slightly to Category 4 strength, which it maintained while approaching the Gulf Coast of the United States.
Just before it made landfall in the United States, Ivan's eyewall weakened considerably, and its southwestern portion almost disappeared. Around 2 am CDT September 16 (0700 UTC), Ivan made landfall on the U.S. mainland in Gulf Shores, Alabama as a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph (190 km/h) winds; some hurricane information sources put the winds from Hurricane Ivan near 130 mph (210 km/h) upon landfall in Alabama and northwestern Florida. Ivan then continued inland, maintaining hurricane strength until it was over central Alabama. Ivan weakened rapidly that evening and became a tropical depression the same day, still over Alabama. Ivan lost tropical characteristics on September 18 while crossing Virginia. Later that day, the remnant low drifted off the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast into the Atlantic Ocean, and the low pressure disturbance continued to dump rain on the United States.
On September 20, Ivan's remnant surface low completed an anticyclonic loop and moved across the Florida peninsula. As it continued west across the northern Gulf of Mexico, the system reorganized and again took on tropical characteristics. On September 22 the National Weather Service, "after considerable and sometimes animated in-house discussion [regarding] the demise of Ivan," determined that the low was in fact a result of the remnants of Ivan and thus named it accordingly. On the evening of September 23, the revived Ivan made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana as a tropical depression. Ivan finally dissipated on September 24 as it moved overland into Texas.
Ivan set 18 new records for intensity at low latitudes. When Ivan first became a Category 3 hurricane on September 3 (1800 UTC), it was centered near 10.2 degrees north from the equator. This is the most southerly location on record for a major hurricane in the Atlantic basin. Just six hours later, Ivan also became the most southerly Category 4 hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin when it reached that intensity while located at 10.6 degrees north. Finally, at midnight (UTC) on September 9 while centered at 13.7 degrees north, Ivan became the most southerly Category 5 hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin. The latter record would not be surpassed until Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which reached Category 5 intensity at 13.4 degrees north.
Ivan had held the world record of 33 (with 32 consecutive) six-hour periods of intensity at or above Category 4 strength. This record was broken two years later by Pacific Hurricane/Typhoon Ioke, which had 36 (33 consecutive) six-hour periods at Category 4 strength. This contributed to Ivan's total Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 70.38. The tornado outbreak associated with Ivan spawned 127 tornadoes, more than any other tropical cyclone worldwide.
Scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi have used a computer model to predict that, at the height of the storm, the maximum wave height within Ivan's eyewall reached 131 feet (40 m).
By September 5, a hurricane watch was posted for Barbados. Early on the following day, a tropical storm watch was issued for Grenada. Later that day, hurricane watches were also put into effect for Saint Lucia, and Martinique. A tropical storm warning was issued for Saint Vincent and Grenadines and Tobago and Grenada. By 1500 UTC on September 6, the hurricane watches and tropical storm watches and warnings were upgraded to a hurricane warning and expanded to: Barbados, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Tobago, Grenada. Simultaneously, a tropical storm warning was issued for Trinidad. On September 7, the hurricane warning in effect for several countries was downgraded to a tropical storm warning. By September, all tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings were discontinued in the eastern portions of the Windward Islands.
As Ivan continued westward, a hurricane watch was issued for the ABC islands on September 8. Many schools and businesses were closed in the Netherlands Antilles, and about 300 people evacuated their homes on Curaçao.
In the Caribbean, 500,000 Jamaicans were told to evacuate from coastal areas, but only 5,000 were reported to have moved to shelters. 12,000 residents and tourists were evacuated from Isla Mujeres off the Yucatán Peninsula.
In Louisiana, mandatory evacuations of vulnerable areas in Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, and Tangipahoa parishes took place, with voluntary evacuations ordered in six other parishes. More than one-third of the population of Greater New Orleans evacuated voluntarily, including more than half of the residents of New Orleans itself. At the height of the evacuation, intense traffic congestion on local highways caused delays of up to 12 hours. About a thousand special-needs patients were housed at the Louisiana Superdome during the storm. Ivan was considered a particular threat to the New Orleans area because dangers of catastrophic flooding. However, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes suffered a moderate amount of wind damage. Hurricane preparedness for New Orleans was judged poor. At one point, the media sparked fears of an "Atlantean" catastrophe if the hurricane were to make a direct strike on the city. These fears were not realized, as the storm's path turned further east.
In Mississippi, evacuation of mobile homes and vulnerable areas took place in Hancock, Jackson, and Harrison counties. In Alabama, evacuation in the areas of Mobile and Baldwin counties south of Interstate 10 was ordered, including a third of the incorporated territory of the City of Mobile, as well as several of its suburbs. In Florida, a full evacuation of the Florida Keys began at 7:00 am EDT September 10 but was lifted at 5:00 am EDT September 13 as Ivan tracked further west than originally predicted. Voluntary evacuations were declared in ten counties along the Florida Panhandle, with strong emphasis in the immediate western counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa. Ivan prompted the evacuation of 270 animals at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The evacuation had to be completed within a couple of hours, with only 28 volunteers available to move the animals.
|Cayman Islands||1||0||$2.86 billion|||
|Saint Lucia||0||0||$2.6 million|||
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||0||0||$40 million|||
|Trinidad and Tobago||1||1||$4.9 million|||
|United States||54||25||$20.5 billion|||
Ivan killed 64 people in the Caribbean—mainly in Grenada and Jamaica—three in Venezuela, and 25 in the United States, including fourteen in Florida. Thirty-two more deaths in the United States were indirectly attributed to Ivan. While traversing the eastern United States, Ivan spawned 120 tornadoes, striking communities along concentric arcs on the leading edge of the storm. In Florida, Blountstown, Marianna, and Panama City Beach suffered three of the most devastating tornadoes. A Panama City Beach news station was nearly hit by an F2 tornado during the storm. Ivan also caused over US$20.5 billion (2004 USD) in damages in the United States and US$3 billion in the Caribbean (2004 USD).
Ivan passed directly over Grenada on September 7, 2004, killing 39 people. The capital, St. George's, was severely damaged and several notable buildings were destroyed, including the residence of the prime minister. Ivan also caused extensive damage to a local prison, allowing most of the inmates to escape. The island, in the words of a Caribbean disaster official, suffered "total devastation." According to a member of the Grenadian parliament, at least 85% of the small island was devastated. Extensive looting was reported. In all, damage on the island totalled US$815 million (2004 USD, $1.06 billion 2018 USD).
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, a pregnant woman was killed in Tobago when a tree fell on top of her home, and a 75-year-old Canadian woman drowned in Barbados. Three deaths were reported in Venezuela. Over five hundred homes on Barbados and around 60 homes in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were either damaged or destroyed.
On September 11 – 12, the center of Ivan passed near Jamaica, causing significant wind and flood damage. Overall, 17 people were killed in Jamaica and 18,000 people were left homeless as a result of the flood waters and high winds. Most of the major resorts and hotels fared well, though, and were reopened only a few days after Ivan had passed. Damage on Jamaica totaled US$360 million (2004 USD, $466 million 2018 USD).
In the Cayman Islands, Governor Bruce Dinwiddy described damage as "very, very severe and widespread." Despite strict building codes which made the islands' buildings well able to withstand even major hurricanes, Ivan's winds and storm surge were so strong that a quarter or more of the buildings on the islands were reported to be uninhabitable, with 85% damaged to some extent. Much of Grand Cayman still remained without power, water, or sewer services for several months later. After five months, barely half the pre-Ivan hotel rooms were usable. Only one person was killed on the islands, though at first many deaths were suspected because of the many graves that were washed up during the storm. Damage across the territory was catastrophic, with losses amounting to US$2.86 billion or 183 percent of its gross domestic product. The Letter from the Cayman Islands Government Office in the United Kingdom, 8 October 2004 by McKeeva Bush, Leader of Government Business details the intensity, extent of damage, and recovery process during the months that followed.
There were four deaths in the Dominican Republic. The region's Caribbean Development Bank estimates Ivan caused over US$3 billion (2004 USD, $3.89 billion 2018 USD) damage on island nations, mostly in the Cayman Islands, Grenada, and Jamaica. Minor damage, including some beach erosion, was reported in the ABC islands.
Even though Ivan did not make landfall on Cuban soil, its storm surge caused localized flooding on Santiago de Cuba and Granma, on the southern part of the island. At Cienfuegos, the storm produced waves of 15 feet (4.6 m), and Pinar del Río recorded 13.3 inches (340 mm) of rainfall. While there were no casualties on the island, the Cuban government estimates that about US$1.2 billion (2004 USD, $1.55 billion 2018 USD) of property damage were directly due to Ivan.
Along with the 14 deaths in Florida, Ivan is blamed for eight deaths in North Carolina, two in Georgia, and one in Mississippi. An additional 32 deaths were reported as indirectly caused by the storm.
As it passed over the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, Ivan caused the destruction of Taylor Energy's Mississippi Canyon 20-A production platform, 550 feet above 28 producing oil and gas wells drilled in water 479 feet deep. Waves estimated to be 71 feet caused tremendous pressures below the surface, causing a landslide that obliterated the platform. Hundreds of gallons of oil per day were still leaking onto the surface of the Gulf ten years later in 2014, and continue to appear to the present date .
Ivan caused an estimated US$20.5 billion (2004 USD) in damage in the United States alone, making it the third costliest hurricane on record at the time, just behind Hurricane Charley's US$14 billion (2004 USD), and above Hurricane Hugo.
|Source: National Hurricane Center[nb 1]|
As Ivan made landfall on the U.S. coastline in Florida, there was heavy damage as observed in Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Navarre Beach, and Pensacola Beach, dwellings situated far inland, as much as 20 miles (32 km) from the Gulf coast, along the shorelines of Escambia Bay, East Bay, Blackwater Bay, and Ward Basin in Escambia County and Santa Rosa County, and Fort Walton Beach, Florida on the eastern side of the storm. The area just west of Pensacola, including the community of Warrington (which includes Pensacola NAS), Perdido Key, and Innerarity Point, took the brunt of the storm. Some of the subdivisions in this part of the county were completely destroyed, with a few key roads in the Perdido area only opened in late 2005, over a year after the storm hit. Shattered windows from gusts and flying projectiles experienced throughout the night of the storm were common. As of December 2007, roads remained closed on Pensacola Beach because of damage from Ivan's storm surge.
In Pensacola, the Interstate 10 Escambia Bay Bridge was heavily damaged, with as much as a quarter-mile (400 m) of the bridge collapsing into the bay. The causeway that carries U.S. Highway 90 across the northern part of the same bay was also heavily damaged. Virtually all of Perdido Key, an area on the outskirts of Pensacola that bore the brunt of Ivan's winds and rain, was essentially leveled. High surf and wind brought extensive damage to Innerarity Point.
The city of Demopolis, over 100 miles (160 km) inland in west-central Alabama, endured wind gusts estimated at 90 mph (140 km/h), while Montgomery saw wind gusts in the 60 to 70 mph (97 to 113 km/h) range at the height of the storm.
The heaviest damage as Ivan made landfall on the U.S. coastline was observed in Baldwin County in Alabama, where the storm's eye (and eyewall) made landfall. High surf and wind brought extensive damage to Orange Beach near the border with Florida. There, two five-story condominium buildings were undermined to the point of collapse by Ivan's storm surge of 14 feet (4.3 m). Both were made of steel-reinforced concrete. Debris gathered in piles along the storm tide, exacerbating the damage when the floodwaters crashed into homes sitting on pilings. Brewton, a community about 50 miles (80 km) inland, also suffered severe damage.
In addition to the damage to the southern portions of the state, there was extensive damage to the state's electrical grid. At the height of the outages, Alabama Power reported 489,000 subscribers had lost electrical power—roughly half of its subscriber base.
Further inland, Ivan caused major flooding, bringing the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta and many other rivers and streams to levels at or near 100-year records. The Delaware River and its tributaries crested just below their all-time records set by Hurricane Diane in 1955. Locations in southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts received over 7 inches of rainfall from the remnants of Ivan, causing flooding and mudslides. In Connecticut, high winds moved in quickly and unexpectedly, and a boater was killed when his trimaran capsized in 50-knot winds on Long Island Sound.
In western North Carolina, many streams and rivers reached well above flood stage in an area that was heavily flood damaged just a week and a half prior from the remnants of Hurricane Frances, causing many roads to be closed. High winds contributed to widespread power outages throughout the mountainous region. The Blue Ridge Parkway as well as Interstate 40 through the Pigeon River gorge in Haywood County, North Carolina sustained major damage, and landslides were common across the mountains. There was major flooding along the French Broad River and Swannanoa River in Asheville, North Carolina and along the Pigeon River near Canton, North Carolina. As a result of the rain, a major debris flow of mud, rocks, trees, and water surged down Peek's Creek, near Franklin, North Carolina, sweeping away 15 houses and killing five people.
The system also spawned deadly tornadoes as far north as Maryland and destroyed seven oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico while at sea. While crossing over the Mid-Atlantic states, Ivan's remnants spawned 117 tornadoes across the eastern United States, with the 40 tornadoes spawned in Virginia on September 17 setting a daily record for the commonwealth. Ivan then moved into the Wheeling, West Virginia and Pittsburgh area, causing major flooding and gusty winds. Pittsburgh International Airport recorded the highest 24-hour rainfall for Pittsburgh, recording 5.95 inches (151 mm) of rain. Ivan's rain caused widespread flooding. The Juniata River basin was flooded, and the Frankstown Branch crested at its highest level ever. After Ivan regenerated in the Gulf of Mexico, it caused further heavy rainfall up to 8 inches (200 mm) in areas of Louisiana and Texas.
On the morning of September 21, the remnant mid-level circulation of Ivan combined with a frontal system. This produced a plume of moisture over the Canadian Maritimes for four days, producing heavy rainfall totaling 6.2 inches (160 mm) in Gander, Newfoundland. High winds of up to 89 mph (143 km/h) downed trees and caused power outages in Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and eastern Nova Scotia. The system produced intense waves of up to 50 feet (15 m) near Cape Bonavista. The system killed two when it grounded a fishing vessel and was indirectly responsible for four traffic fatalities in Newfoundland.
Grenada suffered serious economic repercussions following the destruction caused by Ivan. Before Ivan, the economy of Grenada was projected to grow by 4.7%, but the island's economy instead contracted by nearly 3% in 2004. The economy was also projected to grow by at least 5% through 2007, but, as of 2005[update], that estimate had been lowered to less than 1%. The government of Grenada also admitted that government debt, 130% of the island's GDP, was "unsustainable" in October 2004 and appointed a group of professional debt advisors in January 2005 to help seek a cooperative restructuring agreement with creditors.
More than US$150 million was sent to Grenada in 2004 to aid reconstruction following Ivan, but the economic situation remains fragile. The International Monetary Fund reports that as "difficult enough as the present fiscal situation is, it is unfortunately quite easy to envisage circumstances that would make it even more so." Furthermore, "shortfalls in donor financing and tax revenues, or events such as a further rise in global oil prices, pose a grave risk."
By two days after Ivan's passage, USAID’s hurricane recovery program distributed emergency relief supplies for families who were displaced by the storm. During phase one of the recovery program, communities restored three tourist sites, cleared agricultural lands, and completed disaster mitigation. In addition, the U.S. Peace Corps completed thirty small projects in rural communities and low income neighborhoods. 66 health clinics, 25 schools, and 62 water and sanitation systems were repaired during the first phase of recovery. About 1,379 farmers, herders and micro businesses became eligible for grants. By 2005, 55 schools and colleges were repaired, while restoration of 1,560 houses had occurred.
On September 27, 2004, President of the United States George W. Bush submitted a budget to the United States Congress which requested over $7 billion (2004 USD) in aid to victims of Hurricane Ivan and Jeanne in the following states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Over half of the $7 billion (2004 USD) was to cover uninsured damage to property and public infrastructure. $889 million was spent to repair Department of Defense facilities. About $600 million was earmarked for emergency repairs to highways and road damaged by Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. The Small Business Administration (SBA) used $472 million to provide loans for small businesses and homeowners affected by the storm. Approximately $400 million was given by the United States Department of Agriculture to provide financial assistance agricultural producers suffering crop and other losses. Around $132 million (2004 USD) was used to repair Federal facilities by several government agencies, including: United States Coast Guard, Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Forest Service, and the Federal Aviation Administration. The United States Army Corps of Engineers used $81 million (2004 USD) for restoration of coastal areas affected by Ivan. In addition, $50 million (2004 USD) of which was for disaster and famine assistance funds Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti.
Following the storm in Alabama, more than 167,700 people applied for assistance in 65 counties in the state. over 51 counties in the state became eligible for public assistance. As a result, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) received $735 million (2004 USD), which was spent in disaster assistance, and included: low-interest loans for homeowners and businesses, disaster food stamps, Disaster Unemployment Assistance to those left unemployed as a result of Ivan, "Project Rebound", and to fill the 5,856 National Flood Insurance Program claims. In addition, there were repairs to public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, buildings, utilities, facilities, and parks. 20 Disaster Recovery Centers were opened in 13 counties, which also included the Poarch Creek Indian Reservation. Overall, FEMA paid 90% of the $735 million (2004 USD), while the AEMA paid for the other 10%.
Ivan is suspected of bringing spores of soybean rust from Venezuela into the United States, the first ever occurrences of soybean rust found in North America. Since the Florida soybean crop had already been mostly harvested, economic damage was limited. Some of the most severe outbreaks in South America have been known to reduce soybean crop yields by half or more. Following the storm, more than 138,500 residents in 15 counties of the Florida Panhandle applied for federal and state aid. In those counties, a total of $162.6 million was approved by FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. In addition, residents of 24 other counties in Florida were eligible for grants and loans. By September 2005, more than $1.4 billion (2004 USD) in federal and state assistance was approved for residents and communities in the Florida Panhandle. In addition, the National Flood Insurance Program paid nearly $869 million (2004 USD) for more than 9,800 insurance claims after Ivan.
More than $4 million (2004 USD) in disaster assistance was approved for Mississippi by FEMA and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). In addition, the SBA issued nearly 3,000 applications for low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, landlords, businesses, and non-profit organizations. The loans covered up to $200,000 in real estate repairs/replacements and up to $40,000 in repairs/replacements of personal property.
Residents and business owners in eight parishes of Louisiana became eligible for disaster assistance. By one week before the deadline to apply on November 15, 2004, about 9,527 residents applied for disaster assistance. Overall, FEMA and the Government of Louisiana provided more than $3.8 million (2004 USD) to those that requested assistance. In addition, the SBA also allowed applications for loans to repair personal property until that day.
This storm marked the third occasion the name "Ivan" had been used to name a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic, as well as the fifth of six occurrences worldwide. Because of the severe damage and number of deaths in the Caribbean and United States, the name Ivan was retired in the spring of 2005 by the World Meteorological Organization and will never again be used in the Atlantic basin. It was replaced by Igor for the 2010 season.
Ivan broke several hydrological records; it is credited with possibly causing the largest ocean wave ever recorded, a 91-foot (28-meter) wave that may have been as high as 131 ft (40 m), and the fastest seafloor current, at 2.25 m/s (5 mph).
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