Hurricane Dennis

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Hurricane Dennis
Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)
Hurricane Dennis on July 10, 2005 at 1615 UTC

Hurricane Dennis on July 10, 2005 at 1615 UTC
Formed July 4, 2005
Dissipated July 13, 2005
150 mph (240 km/h) (1-minute sustained)
Lowest pressure 930 mbar (hPa; 27.47 inHg)
Fatalities 42 direct, 47 indirect
Damage $4 billion (2005 USD)
$4.13 billion (2006 USD)
Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and Ohio Valley regions
Part of the
2005 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Dennis was an early-forming major hurricane in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Dennis was the fourth named storm, second hurricane, and first major hurricane of the season. In July, the hurricane set several records for early season hurricane activity, becoming both the earliest formation of a fourth tropical cyclone and the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever to form before August, according to available records.

Dennis hit Cuba twice as a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, and made landfall on the Florida Panhandle in the United States as a Category 3 storm less than a year after Hurricane Ivan did so. Dennis caused at least 89 deaths (42 direct) in the U.S. and Caribbean and caused $2.23 billion (2005 US dollars) in damages to the United States, as well as an approximately equal amount of damage in the Caribbean, primarily on Cuba.

Storm history[edit]

Hurricane Dennis began as Tropical Depression Four in the southeastern Caribbean Sea on the evening of July 4, the first storm of the season to form away from Mexico and Central America. Almost immediately, it made landfall on Grenada as a tropical depression with 30 mph winds.[1] On the morning of July 5, it strengthened into Tropical Storm Dennis in the eastern Caribbean; this was the earliest formation of an Atlantic season's fourth storm (by comparison, during the 2004 season, Hurricane Alex formed in early August and Hurricane Charley made landfall in Cuba on August 12). The newly named Dennis began moving rapidly to the west-northwest.

It was very clear from early weather forecasting models that Dennis had the potential to be a major storm, and it was predicted to reach hurricane status while still a tropical depression. It reached hurricane strength on the afternoon of July 6 while approaching the southern coast of Hispaniola, and it quickly became a strong and well-organized Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The next day it strengthened rapidly to become a Category 4 major hurricane, the earliest in an Atlantic hurricane season that a storm had reached that strength since Hurricane Audrey in the 1957 season. After rapid strengthening, Dennis's track became slightly more northerly, bringing it between Jamaica and Haiti by July 7; both countries experienced high winds and heavy rain.

As it approached Cuba and strengthened to just under Category 5 intensity, Dennis's track began to wobble. Meteorologists from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated, "this type of erratic motion is not unusual for intensifying major hurricanes."[2]

File:Hurricane Dennis on July 7 2005 1550 UTC.jpg
Hurricane Dennis on July 7, 2005 at 1550 UTC, beginning to pass to the north of Jamaica. Jamaica, eastern Cuba, and Hispaniola are all obscured by the storm.

On July 7, Hurricane warnings were issued for Cuba at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC). Dennis made landfall near Punta del Inglés with 140 mph (220 km/h) winds late that day, and dropped down to a Category 3 storm while crossing the peninsula. As it moved back into the Gulf of Guacanayabo, its wind speed increased to a peak of 150 mph (240 km/h). Dennis then slammed into south-central Cuba just west of Punta Mangles Altos on July 8, again with 140 mph (220 km/h) winds.[1]

Crossing Cuba's mountainous terrain disrupted the storm's circulation, weakening Dennis to Category 1 intensity. However, NHC forecasts continued to indicate the possibility of a return to Category 4 status after convection was re-established. This prediction was borne out when Dennis rapidly reintensified on the afternoon of July 9 over the Gulf Loop Current, a reintensification described by NHC as having occurred "at a rate that bordered on insane."[3] The storm reached Category 4 intensity again on the morning of July 10. At 1200 UTC, the storm reached its peak intensity of 930 mbar (27.47 inHg), surpassing Hurricane Audrey and setting a new record for the strongest storm to form prior to August; the new record stood for less than two weeks before Hurricane Emily surpassed it by reaching a pressure of 929 mbar (27.43 inHg).[1]

Total rainfall from Dennis.

The storm continued moving north-northwest towards the central Gulf Coast, which had seen the landfalls of Tropical Storm Arlene in June and Hurricane Cindy the previous week. By the morning of July 10, hurricane warnings were in effect in the U.S. for the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and Mississippi, with tropical storm warnings extending further east and west along the coast. The NHC predicted a landing at near full strength in the late afternoon. However, much like Hurricane Ivan which struck in the same area the previous year, the storm weakened just before landfall; its maximum sustained winds dropped from 145 mph (235 km/h, Category 4 strength) to 120 mph (195 km/h, Category 3 strength).

Continental landfall occurred at Santa Rosa Island, between Pensacola, Florida, and Navarre Beach, Florida, at 2:25 p.m. CDT (1925 UTC) on July 10. Dennis was a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 to 120 mph (185 to 195 km/h). The highest official wind speed reported was a 121 mph (195 km/h) wind gust at Navarre Beach.[4] The storm lost strength over the day and was a tropical depression by early on July 11. The depression persisted, however, and gained a little strength while stalled over Illinois the next day. It finally dissipated in Ontario on July 13, with advisories ceasing a full three days after landfall.


Combined with Hurricane Cindy's landfall on the Gulf Coast of the United States, uncertainty over Dennis's final landfall helped push oil prices to a record high of $61.28 a barrel on July 6,[5] and again to $61.50 on July 7,[6] although they dropped below $60 on July 8. Dennis was originally forecast to strike Louisiana, one of the oil-producing regions of the Gulf coast. Speculative spikes in oil prices due to Hurricane Dennis foreshadowed the far greater price spikes caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in late August and September.

In Haiti officials evacuated residents along the coastline, but noted that many were not obliging.[7] In Cuba more than 600,000 residents were moved from their homes to government shelters or other locations in anticipation of Dennis.[8]

In the United States, the lower Florida Keys were placed under a mandatory evacuation order, and a nonresident and mobile home resident evacuation was ordered for the remainder of the Keys. This evacuation was cancelled the night of July 8, as there was no longer sufficient time for stragglers in the Florida Keys to safely leave. Furthermore, the governors of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana all declared states of emergency in their states.

At 6 a.m. CDT (2300 UTC) on July 9, 2005, all southbound lanes on Interstate 65 from Mobile to Montgomery, Alabama, were closed. Traffic was redirected, making all four lanes northbound to allow evacuations. In Alabama residents in all parts of Mobile County, and those south of I-10 in Baldwin County, were ordered to evacuate. Similar orders were issued in Mississippi for parts of Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison counties; and for coastal areas in the Florida Panhandle stretching from Escambia County to Bay County. Likewise, military installations such as NAS Pensacola, Whiting Field, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field and Tyndall AFB were all evacuated days before the storm.


Deaths from Hurricane Dennis
Country Total State State
County County
Cuba 16 16
Haiti 56 22
Jamaica 1 0
USA 15 Florida 14 Broward 3 1
Charlotte 3 0
Escambia 1 0
Monroe 1 1
Nassau 1 1
Walton 1 0
Unknown 4 0
Georgia 1 DeKalb 1 1
Totals 89 42
Because of differing sources, totals may not match.

Hurricane Dennis caused $4-6 billion (2005 US dollars) and at least 89 deaths in its path past Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, and the United States.


Dennis first affected Jamaica while still a weak storm. One person was killed there and damage was estimated at $32 million USD.[1]

In Haiti, the Pan American Health Organization reports that 56 deaths and 36 injuries occurred; the storm also destroyed 929 homes and damaged another 3,000, leaving 1,500 families homeless.[9] Among the dead were 16 who were killed when a bridge collapsed during the hurricane.[8] Furthermore, 24 persons are still listed as missing.

From there the storm moved to Cuba, leaving 16 people dead and $1.4 billion in damages as it roared through the island, flattening houses and downing trees and power lines. According to reports from the Cuban government, 120,000 homes were damaged, 15,000 of which were destroyed. The citrus and vegetable industries were also devastated as Cuba's primary agricultural regions were the hardest hit. Nonetheless, Fidel Castro publicly refused US aid after the storm in protest of the ongoing US trade embargo against Cuba, stating that, "If they offered $1 billion we would say no."[10] Relayed reports from Cuban meteorologists stated that a gust up to 149 mph (239 km/h) was detected at Cienfuegos, 85% of the power lines were down, and extensive damage to the communications infrastructure had occurred. Dennis was more destructive than the previous year's Hurricane Charley and was widely regarded as the worst hurricane to strike Cuba since Hurricane Flora in the 1963 season.

United States[edit]

File:Beach front home damaged by hurricane dennis 2005.jpg
A beachfront home in Navarre Beach, Florida largely destroyed by Hurricane Dennis.

In the United States, damage was not as high as originally expected, mainly because Dennis was more compact and moved more quickly than initially forecast. Dennis made landfall approximately 30 miles to the east of where Hurricane Ivan had made landfall 10 months before, but did not cause as much damage as Ivan. Dennis moved about 7 mph (11 km/h) faster than Ivan at landfall, and had hurricane-force winds that only extended 40 miles (65 km) from its center, compared to Ivan's 105 miles (170 km/h).[11][12]

During the height of the storm, Dennis produced storm surges as high as 9 ft (3 m) in the Apalachee Bay region, and as high as 7 (2 m) on the Florida Panhandle,[13] and left 680,000 customers without electricity in four southern states. No significant damage was reported to most structures; however, insurers initially estimated that Dennis caused $3–$5 billion in insured damage,[14] or approximately $6–$10 billion total (insured damage estimates are generally held to be approximately one-half of total damages). However, the NHC's Tropical Cyclone Report reported total damage in the United States as only $2.23 billion with $1.115 billion of insured damage.[1]

Dennis caused at least 10 tornadoes in the U.S., although only one of them reached F1 status on the Fujita scale.[1] The storm dropped over 10 inches (250 mm) of rain in some areas of Alabama and Georgia (see the rainfall graphic). Parts of Georgia, which had received heavy rain just days earlier from Hurricane Cindy, suffered heavy flooding, and flash-floods were reported on the outskirts of the Atlanta metropolitan area.[15][16]

In the United States, 15 storm-related deaths (14 in Florida) were reported, including one in Walton County,[17] three in Broward County,[18][1] three in Charlotte County, one each in Nassau and Escambia Counties[18] and one in Decatur, Georgia.[19] In the Gulf of Mexico, the storm heavily damaged the Thunder Horse, a BP oil rig about 150 miles (240 km) southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana, causing it to list badly.[20]

One beneficial effect of Hurricane Dennis was the rolling of the former USS Spiegel Grove.[21] Spiegel Grove was sunk in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in an attempt to create an artificial reef. However, the ship turned over and landed on the bottom upside down. Efforts to roll the ship were partially successful, bringing it onto its starboard side, but Hurricane Dennis completed the roll, bringing Spiegel Grove into its intended upright position.


Template:Seealso The name Dennis was retired in the spring of 2006 and will never be used for an Atlantic hurricane again. It was replaced by Don on List III of the Atlantic hurricane naming lists that will be next be used in the 2011 season.[22]

See also[edit]

Template:Tcportal Template:Commons2


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 National Hurricane Center. Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Dennis (PDF). NOAA. Retrieved on December 2, 2005.
  2. National Hurricane Center. Discussion for Hurricane Dennis, 11:00 a.m. EDT, July 08, 2005. NOAA. Retrieved on December 2, 2005.
  3. National Hurricane Center. Discussion for Hurricane Dennis, 10:00 p.m. CDT, July 09, 2005. NOAA. Retrieved on December 2, 2005.
  4. National Weather Service, Mobile-Pensacola Forecast Office. Public Information Statement. NOAA. Retrieved on December 2, 2005.
  5. "Hurricane Dennis approaches Gulf of Mexico", Associated Press, July 6 2005.
  6. "Oil Prices surges to record", Bloomberg Television, July 7 2005.
  7. "Hurricane Dennis kills 10 in Cuba", BBC, July 11 2005.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Mop-up begins after Dennis sweeps Gulf Coast", MSNBC, July 11 2005.
  9. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Operations Update-Caribberan:Hurricanes Dennis & Emily. Retrieved on December 26, 2005.
  10. "Castro: Cuban death toll from Hurricane Dennis raised to 16", USA Today, July 12 2005.
  11. "Mop-up begins after Dennis sweeps Gulf Coast", MSNBC, July 11 2005.
  12. "Southern US mops up after Dennis", BBC, July 11 2005.
  13. Federal Emergency Management Agency (July 7, 2006). Monday Marks Hurricane Dennis Anniversary. FEMA. Retrieved on 2006-07-08.
  14. Dr. William M. Gray. Forecast of Atlantic Hurricane Activity for October 2005. Colorado State University. Retrieved on December 10, 2005.
  15. National Weather Service, Southern Regional Headquarters. The Menace of Dennis. NOAA. Retrieved on February 5, 2006.
  16. Stephanie Schupska (University of Georgia). Dennis' rain, flooding slams Georgia homes, crops. UGA College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. Retrieved on February 5, 2006.
  17. "Dennis speeds through Florida Panhandle", Ledger-Enquirer, July 10 2005.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "2 deaths apparently storm-related", Miami Herald, July 11 2005.
  19. "Storm Topples Tree, Kills Father", WXIA-TV, July 12 2005.
  20. "Big BP oil rig listing badly in U.S. Gulf", MarketWatch, July 11 2005.
  21. A Fascinating Dive Opportunity Takes a Turn for the Better. Retrieved on December 10, 2005.
  22. "Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, and Wilma "Retired" from List of Storm Names." NOAA. March 25, 2006.

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