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1974 Atlantic hurricane season

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First system formed  June 22, 1974
Name  Carmen
Total storms  11
Last system dissipated  November 12, 1974
Total depressions  21
Hurricanes  4
1974 Atlantic hurricane season

The 1974 Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1, 1974, and lasted until November 30, 1974. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. The season had near average activity, with eleven total storms and four hurricanes forming.

Contents

The most notable storms of the season were Hurricane Carmen, which made landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula and in Louisiana, causing at least $150 million (1974 US dollars) in damages; and Hurricane Fifi, which killed 8,000 people as it skimmed along the northern coast of Honduras. Hurricane Fifi crossed over into the eastern Pacific and was renamed Orlene.

The season's activity was reflected with a cumulative accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 61. ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so storms that last a long time, as well as particularly strong hurricanes, have high ACEs. ACE is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 34 knots (39 mph, 63 km/h) or tropical storm strength.

Tropical Depression One

On June 22, a tropical depression formed. The depression eventually became Subtropical Storm One on June 24. It remained weak and dissipated on June 26.

Subtropical Storm One

A tropical depression formed over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on June 22. It was classified as Tropical Depression One. As the depression moved southwestward, convection began to fire well northeast of the center forming a new cyclone by June 24. Convection over the new system was poorly organized, and it became a subtropical depression late on June 24. It strengthened into a subtropical storm on June 25 with its winds far away from the center. It crossed Florida that day, but that night, it became more frontal in character. It lost what tropical characteristics it had on June 25.

Subtropical Storm One caused three drowning deaths and $10 million in damage ($42 million in 2005 USD) when it passed over central Florida. Tropical Depression One and Subtropical Storm One are actually the same storm, but JTWC classified them as 2 separate systems.

Tropical Depression Two

On July 13, a tropical depression formed. It remained weak and dissipated on July 17.

Subtropical Storm Two

A convective area of cloudiness existed northeast of the Bahamas in mid July in response to a stationary frontal boundary. A subtropical depression formed on July 16, and it became Subtropical Storm Two on July 17. As it moved northeastward it gradually became absorbed by a large extratropical low pressure system, with the system dissipating on July 20.

Tropical Depression Three

On July 31, a tropical depression formed. It remained weak and dissipated on August 2.

Subtropical Storm Three

Subtropical Storm Three formed from a frontal wave on August 10, located 300 mi (480 km) south of Cape Cod. The storm moved southeastward, followed by a north, then northeast motion. The storm reached its peak of 60 mph (97 km/h) late in its life, just prior to being absorbed by a frontal boundary on August 15.

Tropical Storm Alma

A vigorous tropical wave emerged off the western coast of Africa on August 9, developing into a tropical depression by 12:00 UTC on August 12 while located about 545 miles (875 km) east-southeast of Barbados. Steered rapidly west by an abnormally strong subtropical ridge, the depression intensified into Tropical Storm Alma by 12:00 UTC the next day and attained peak winds of 65 mph (100 km/h) six hours later in accordance with data from a reconnaissance aircraft. Early on August 14, Alma made landfall in Trinidad as a minimal tropical storm, becoming the southernmost-landfalling system on the island in 41 years. The system's circulation entered Venezuela and interacted with mountainous terrain, where it dissipated by 12:00 UTC on August 15.

Alma was responsible for two fatalities on Trinidad as well the crash of a passenger aircraft on Isla de Margarita, off the coast of Venezuela, that killed 47 people.

Tropical Depression Five

On August 24, a tropical depression formed. It remained weak and dissipated on August 26.

A sprawling system, the depression brought light to moderate rainfall to much of Texas leading to minor flooding. In Wink, more than 1.5 in (38 mm) fell in six hours.

Hurricane Becky

The NHC first began monitoring an area of shower and thunderstorm activity northeast of the Leeward Islands on August 20. The disturbance tracked northwest, and both ships observations and satellite imagery indicated the formation of a tropical depression by 12:00 UTC on August 26; at the time, it was centered about 440 miles (710 km) south-southwest of Bermuda. Following designation, the depression curved north and then northeast as it rounded the western periphery of a ridge near the Azores. A light shear environment allowed it to intensify into Tropical Storm Becky by 06:00 UTC on August 28 and further into a hurricane by 18:00 UTC that day. After attaining peaks winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) on August 30 as confirmed by a reconnaissance aircraft, Becky accelerated eastward and merged with a frontal zone northeast of the Azores early on September 2.

Hurricane Carmen

A tropical wave crossed the western coast of Africa on August 23, organizing into a tropical depression by 06:00 UTC on August 29 about 365 miles (585 km) east of Guadeloupe. The newly-designated cyclone was slow to intensify initially, with limited inflow and a majority of its circulation over the Greater Antilles. It strengthened into Tropical Storm Carmen early on August 30 and further into a hurricane by 12:00 UTC on August 31. Upon entering the western Caribbean Sea and amid a low wind shear environment, Carmen began a period of rapid intensification and attained peak winds of 150 mph (240 km/h) before moving ashore a few miles north of Chetumal, Quintana Roo.

Carmen weakened significantly over the Yucatán Peninsula, falling to tropical storm intensity by 00:00 UTC on September 3. It emerged into the Bay of Campeche late that day and almost immediately executed a turn toward the north in response to falling pressures over the Southern United States. The cyclone steadily re-intensified over the Gulf of Mexico, and a reconnaissance aircraft into the storm around 00:00 UTC on September 8 found that maximum winds had again increased to 150 mph (240 km/h). As Carmen approaching the coastline of Louisiana, radar indicated the presence of drier air entering the eastern semicircle of the circulation, and the cyclone moved ashore south of Morgan City with winds of 120 mph (195 km/h). It turned northwest and then west-northwest after landfall and was last monitored as a tropical depression southeast of Waco, Texas at 06:00 UTC on September 10.

Tropical Depression Eight

On September 2, a tropical depression formed. It was long lasting and dissipated on September 11.

Tropical Storm Dolly

An area of shower and thunderstorm activity became concentrated underneath an upper-level low in the west Atlantic on August 30. The disturbance drifted west-northwest while steadily organizing, and a ship report around 18:00 UTC on September 2 indicated the formation of a tropical depression about 395 miles (635 km) south-southwest of Bermuda. Although the cyclone was embedded within a high wind shear environment, a reconnaissance mission into the storm the next afternoon found that it had intensified into Tropical Storm Dolly and attained its peak winds of 50 mph (85 km/h). The storm recurved northeast ahead of an approaching trough and transitioned into an extratropical cyclone by 12:00 UTC on September 5 offshore the coastline of Nova Scotia.

Tropical Storm Elaine

A tropical wave moved off the western coast of Africa on August 30 and acquired sufficient organization to be declared a tropical depression by 18:00 UTC on September 4 roughly 715 miles (1,150 km) east of Guadeloupe. The newly-formed cyclone moved northwest for several days, maintaining its status as a tropical depression despite the absence of a closed low-level circulation in several reconnaissance missions. It eventually intensified into Tropical Storm Elaine east of North Carolina by 18:00 UTC on September 9, and with the aid of light upper-level winds, reached peak winds of 70 mph (110 km/h) early the next morning. Steered northeast by an approaching trough, Elaine interacted with a cold front and transitioned into an extratropical cyclone by 00:00 UTC on September 14 over the northern Atlantic.

Hurricane Fifi

On September 8, a well-defined tropical wave emerged off the west coast of Africa into the Atlantic Ocean. Over the following five days, no development took place and the wave later entered the Caribbean on September 13. The following day, the system developed into a tropical depression as it steadily tracked west-northwestward. On September 16, the depression intensified into Tropical Storm Fifi just off the coast of Jamaica. The storm quickly intensified into a hurricane the following afternoon and attained its peak intensity on September 18 as a strong Category 2 hurricane. Maintaining hurricane intensity, Fifi brushed the northern coast of Honduras before making landfall in Belize the following day. The storm quickly weakened after landfall, becoming a depression late on September 20. Continuing westward, the former hurricane began to interact with another system in the eastern Pacific.

Early on September 22, Fifi re-attained tropical storm status before fully regenerating into a new tropical cyclone, Tropical Storm Orlene. Orlene traveled in an arcuate path toward Mexico while quickly intensifying into a Category 2 hurricane before landfall. The storm weakened after landfall and dissipated fully during the afternoon of September 24 over the mountains of Mexico. Along its path, Fifi impacted nine countries, leaving over 8,000 fatalities and $1.8 billion in damage. Most of the loss of life and damage occurred in Honduras where extreme rainfall from the hurricane triggered widespread flash flooding and mudslides.

Tropical Depression Twelve

Formed September 18 and dissipated September 20.

Tropical Depression Thirteen

Formed September 23 and dissipated September 27.

Hurricane Gertrude

A disturbance developed within the Intertropical Convergence Zone just off the western coast of Africa on September 22. The system moved west-northwest and steadily coalesced, organizing into a tropical depression by 12:00 UTC on September 27 about 985 miles (1,585 km) east-southeast of Barbados. The storm was slow to develop at first, intensifying into Tropical Storm Gertude by 18:00 UTC on September 28. However, a reconnaissance aircraft six hours later indicated Gertude had intensified into a hurricane and attained peak winds of 75 mph (120 km/h), although its winds were transient and the storm featured an abnormally high surface pressure. After temporarily stalling, Gertude resumed its west-northwest motion while steadily weakening under the influence of strong upper-level winds. It passed through the southern Leeward Islands on October 2 and dissipated over the eastern Caribbean by 00:00 UTC on October 4.

Subtropical Storm Four

The subtropical depression that became Subtropical Storm Four developed from a stationary cold front on October 4 near the east coast of Cuba. It moved northwestward, strengthening to subtropical storm force winds, and brushing the east coast of Florida. The storm moved out to sea, merging with a cold front on October 9 after becoming extratropical on October 8.

Tropical Depression Seventeen

Formed November 10 and dissipated November 12.

Season Effects

This is a table of all of the storms that formed in the 1974 Atlantic hurricane season. It includes their duration, names, landfall(s) – denoted by bold location names – damages, and death totals. Deaths in parentheses will be additional and indirect (an example of an indirect death would be a traffic accident), but are still related to that storm. Damage and deaths will include totals while the storm was extratropical or a wave or low, and all of the damage figures are in 1974 USD.

Storm names

The following names were used for named storms (tropical storms and hurricanes) that formed in the North Atlantic in 1974. Storms were named Carmen, Elaine and Gertrude for the first time in 1974. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray.

Retirement

The names Carmen and Fifi were later retired. As the list was changed in 1979, no names replaced Carmen and Fifi. Alma was used in the Pacific until 2008 when it was retired. The name Amanda replaced Alma in the Pacific.

References

1974 Atlantic hurricane season Wikipedia


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