Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
1985 Atlantic hurricane season
Notable storms of 1985 include Hurricane Elena, Hurricane Gloria, and Hurricane Juan.
Hurricane Elena caused $1.25 billion ($2 billion in 2000 dollars) in damage when it made landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi at Category 3 strength. Elena took an erratic path through the eastern Gulf of Mexico, which caused some areas to undergo two evacuations for one storm. Few direct fatalities are attributed to Hurricane Elena.
Hurricane Gloria killed eleven and caused $900 million ($1.45 billion in 2000 dollars) in damage as it tracked up the east coast of the United States. After making landfall on western Long Island, Gloria became extratropical and passed over Canada and back into the Atlantic Ocean. The extratropical storm continued across the Altantic and into western Europe, where it is credited with causing unusual weather conditions.
Hurricane Juan (not to be confused with the 2003 storm of the same name in Atlantic Canada) was the costliest of any of the 1985 storms, with $1.5 billion ($2.4 billion in 2000 dollars) in damage, and twelve dead. Juan meandered along the central coast of Louisiana, then turned east and made landfall at Pensacola, Florida. Most of the deaths were due to an inability to evacuate offshore oil rigs, several of which collapsed during the storm.
Tropical Storm Ana
Tropical Depression One formed south of Bermuda on 15 July, curved around the island, strengthened to a tropical storm, and headed north. The storm swerved away from Nova Scotia and headed for Newfoundland. However, Ana dissipated before she reached the island.
Tropical Depression Two formed off the southwest coast of Florida on July 21. The depression hovered for two days without moving much. Two finally strengthened into Tropical Storm Bob and made landfall near North Naples, Florida . Heavy rainfall fell on south Florida but there was little or no damage. The storm moved off the peninsula and curved north. Bob strengthened into a hurricane off the Georgia coast and made landfall near Hilton Head, South Carolina. One person was killed in North Carolina and damage in the Hilton Head area was reported to be minor.
Claudette was a long-lived, weak hurricane (terms not usually used to describe the same storm), that formed as a depression off the coast of Georgia on August 9th. The depression became Tropical Storm Claudette a day and a half later. Claudette embarked on a transatlantic journey east. The storm became a hurricane in the central Atlantic and continued east. The hurricane reached a point just west of the Azores and weakened to a tropical storm. The storm turned northeast, grazed the Azores and dissipated just north of the islands.
The fourth named storm of the season formed in the western Caribbean, south of Cuba on the 12th of August. Danny spent two full days as a depression before becoming a tropical storm in the southern Gulf of Mexico. The storm continued to strengthen as it made a gentle curve toward Louisiana. By the time it reached the coast off Lake Charles, Danny was a bona-fide Category 1 hurricane. He made landfall with sustained winds of 80 mph. There was widespread coastal flooding and dozens of homes were destroyed. Danny caused $12 million in damage and 3 lives were lost.
Main article: Hurricane Elena
Elena formed off the southern coast of Cuba in late August and quickly strengthened into a tropical storm. The storm traveled the length of the north-Cuban coast and moved into the gulf, where the storm soon became a hurricane. Elena made a curve toward the northwest Florida coast, steadily strengthening. The hurricane stalled of the coast, strengthened into a major hurricane and switched back west. Elena made landfall with sustained winds of 115 mph. Elena caused $543 million in damage but killed only four people. This low number is likely due to the massive evacuations prior to landfall.
Tropical Storm Fabian
Tropical Depression Seven formed east of the Bahamas on September 15th from the remains of Tropical Depression Six and headed northeast. This depression became Tropical Storm Fabian late the next day. Fabian continued to head northeast and reached a peak intensity of 63 mph sustained winds and 994 millibars of pressure and thrived there for a long time (nearly three days). However, a strong low pressure system was forming to the north. Fabian was absorbed by this low on the 19th of September.
Main Article: Hurricane Gloria
Gloria was one of the most destructive storms of the season. She was also the strongest. Gloria was a Cape Verde type hurricane , forming from a tropical wave near the Cape Verde Islands on the 16th of September. Tropical Depression Eight quickly became Tropical Storm Gloria but didnít strengthen much as a tropical storm. Gloria weakened back into a depression on the 18th. She soon regained storm strength, however, and continued to strengthen. Gloria reached hurricane strength east of the Leeward Islands and turned northwest. The hurricane continued to strengthen and reach Category 4 strength and peak intensity east of the Bahamas. The winds then dropped to Category 2 strength as Gloria headed up the coast, sending hurricane-force winds barreling across the shoreline. In some cases, Gloriaís eyewall was less than twelve miles off the coast. The hurricane stayed a Category 2 until landfall on western Long Island. Torrential rainfall fell on New York City. The storm moved inland and became extratropical over Maine. Gloria caused $900 million dollars in damage and killed eleven people across New England and the Mid-Atlantic states.
Tropical Storm Henri
Tropical Depression Nine formed from a trough of low pressure on September 21 and headed north. Nine was upgraded to Tropical Storm Henri early on the 23rd and continued to head north. High wind shear began to take its toll on Henri as he reached Long Island. The storm weakened into a depression, crossed the eastern end of the island and dissipated near Block Island, Rhode Island.
Tropical Storm Isabel
Isabel formed off the coast of Hispaniola and strengthened rapidly, reaching storm strength practically in Santo Domingo harbor. Hispaniola has a reputation as a storm killer but Isabel wasnít fazed. She maintained intensity after she crossed the island and actually continued to strengthen. Isabel moved northeast of the Bahamas and curved toward north Florida. She hit near Fernandina Beach but then weakened into a depression headed out to sea and followed the coast northeast, dissipating near Cape Hatteras.
Juan was a weak hurricane but was the most destructive of the season simply by the erratic track it took at landfall. Juan formed from a tropical wave in the central Gulf of Mexico. The depression quickly strengthened into a tropical storm. This moved erratically for the first day as a storm and then set its sights on Louisiana. Juan became a hurricane as it neared the coast, turning sharply west and making a full, cyclonic (counterclockwise) loop and came back again. The storm made landfall at last near Morgan City, but Juan had one more sinister surprise in store: he made another cyclonic loop, moving off shore and weakening to a tropical storm. The storm then came back a third time, grazing the coast and coming ashore near Gulf Shores, Alabama. Juan dissipated inland. The hurricane caused $1.5 billion dollars in damage and killed 12 people. There has never been a storm since that has had such a strange track at landfall, and only one previously: Hurricane Easy of 1950. Juan was one of Louisiana's worst hurricanes this century.
Kate was a late season major hurricane that made a direct hit on Panama City, Florida. Kate skipped the depression stage and formed as a tropical storm. This storm quickly strengthened into a hurricane. Kate grazed Cuba as a Category 2 and gently curved north-northeast toward Florida. She became a major hurricane a little less than 200 miles west of Tampa. Kate didnít stay there long, weakening back to a 2 the next afternoon. The hurricane continued its graceful curve northeast. Kate made landfall just north of Port St. Joe near Mexico Beach. The storm caused $210 million dollars in damage, and killed six people. This does not include deaths and damages in Cuba. The storm destroyed the oyster industry in Apalachicola and the tourist industry in Panama City was deeply affected.
1985 Hurricane names
The following names were used for named storms (tropical storms and hurricanes) that formed in the North Atlantic in 1985. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray.
The World Meteorological Organization retired two names in the spring of 1986: Elena and Gloria. They were replaced in 1991 by Erika and Grace. Despite the devastation, Juan remained on the list, but it would be retired later from a future storm in 2003.
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