2005 Hurricane Season

By: Tony Sturey, Warning Coordination Meteorologist

Photos Courtesy: Al Wheeler, MIC, WFO Gray


When we think of high impact weather phenomena that can directly affect lives and property in northern New England, often those ferocious Nor'easters producing blizzard conditions during the cold season, or the warm season thunderstorms producing gusty winds, heavy rain, hail and lightning, come to mind. These and other high impact weather conditions deserve our attention, in order that we may help lessen or mitigate their effects.


However, not in the spotlight across Maine, but nevertheless a key component during the summer months, is the Atlantic hurricane season. The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends November 30.


The last landfalling hurricanes to hit the coast of Maine were Bob in 1991, Gerda in 1969, Edna in 1954 and Carol in 1953. Hurricane Juan hit the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada in 2003. As a result, and although rare, hurricanes occasionally find their way into northern New England, and we are overdue!


NOAA's hurricane forecasters are predicting another above-normal hurricane season on the heels of last year's destructive and historic hurricane season. So what does this mean for Maine and what should we do?


Planning and preparation for hurricane safety are integral components when attempting to make a difference at home, in your work place, at school, or perhaps in your community. In an effort to promote hurricane safety, the National Weather Service Offices in Caribou and Gray, with support from United States Senator Susan Collins, United States Congressman Michael Michaud, Bangor Mayor Frank Farrington, the American Red Cross and Maine Emergency Management, hosted NOAA's first stop on its week-long east coast Hurricane Awareness Tour. The Hurricane Awareness Tour's stop at Bangor International Airport on May 2, 2005 included the P-3 Orion "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft and her crew.



The "Hurricane Hunter" P-3 Orion Aircraft



Bangor Mayor Frank Farrington and National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield



A Group of School Children Touring the P-3 Orion "Hurricane Hunter" Aircraft


The P-3 Orion "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft is one of the world's most heavily instrumented research aircraft. Often referred to as a "flying laboratory", the Hurricane Hunter's mission is to fly into hurricanes and collect detailed weather observations of these powerful storms. Onboard the P-3 Orion aircraft that day were representatives from the National Hurricane Center, including director Max Mayfield, and the team from the Air Operations Center, where the P-3 aircraft is cached. Nearly 675 people attended the day-long event, learning about hurricanes and hurricane safety, and touring inside the P-3 aircraft!



Senator Susan Collins and Congressman Mike Michuad Tour the P-3 Orion



Senator Collins and Congressman Michuad in the Cockpit of P-3 Orion



National Hurricane Center Director, Max Mayfield, During a Media Interview


Many people only think of hurricane impact at coastal locations, with large waves, storm surge, destructive winds and heavy rain. This is quite true with respect to significant weather on the coast, however, the effects of hurricanes can move well inland with devastating flooding/flash flooding, mudslides, tornadoes, intense winds and storm or tidal surge. Across downeast coastal Maine, and inland portions, we need to be aware of the aforementioned possibilities that a hurricane blow could deliver to our region.


Listed below are Tropical Cyclone classifications:


  • Tropical Depression- An organized system of persistent clouds and thunderstorms with a closed low-level circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.


  • Tropical Storm- An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a well defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34 to 63 knots.)


  • Hurricane- An intense tropical weather system with a well defined circulation and sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher. In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons, and similar storms in the Indian Ocean are called cyclones.


What to listen for:


  • HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM WATCH: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified are of the Watch, usually within 36 hours. During a Watch, prepare your home and review your plan for evacuation in case a Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning is issued.


  • HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM WARNING: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area of the Warning, usually within 24 hours. Complete storm preparations and leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.


  • SHORT TERM WATCHES AND WARNINGS: These warnings provide detailed information on specific hurricane threats, such as floods and tornadoes.


To learn more about hurricanes please visit the web site for the Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov .



P-3 Orion Departing Post the First Stop of the Hurricane Awareness Tour in Bangor, ME