The 2000 Atlantic Hurricane Season will be long remembered for several mid and late season storms that formed throughout the Atlantic Basin along with the devastation caused by Hurricane Keith in October. Like the previous three years before, this hurricane season got off to a slow start, but would slowly heat up as the season progressed with the development of Alberto, Gordon, and Isaac.
In October, 2000, we had Hurricane Keith, which became the most powerful hurricane of the season to date with sustained winds as high as 145 mph before it made landfall near Belize City. There were other storms to follow such as Leslie, which started out as a subtropical storm that brought over 15 inches of rain to South Florida.
Then, there was Michael, which was a Category Two Hurricane that moved into the Canadian Maritimes with 100 mph winds, and then there was Nadine, which formed out in the Central Atlantic near the Bermuda. There were 14 named storms overall, 8 of which had become hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. Below is a summary of what happened.
The Tropical Atlantic again was off to a slow start in 2000 much like it had been in the previous two seasons, 1998 and 1999. While the 2000 Hurricane Season began on June 1st just like every other hurricane season, the first named storm didnít appear until the first week of August, when Hurricane Alberto developed in the Central Atlantic, and became a Category Four Hurricane despite not impacting land areas.
Things really didnít pick up much during August and into the first week of September, which left much of the media and general public puzzled about what was exactly going on in the tropics. Well, during the summer researchers and forecasters were able to come to the conclusion that the lack of tropical activity in the Atlantic was due to a phenomenon known as the Madden-Julian Oscillation.
During the amplified phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation, conditions became more hostile in the North Atlantic toward hurricane development. While sea surface temperatures throughout the Atlantic were above normal throughout much of the season, and rainfall amounts across much of Africa remained plentiful, upper level wind conditions, affected by this particular oscillation were much more hostile toward development than anticipated.
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However, there was also a decaying phase in the Madden-Julian oscillation, and that set the stage for another late series of storms. From Labor Day until the beginning of November last year, storms and hurricanes were forming a conga line in the Atlantic. First, it was Ernesto that got things going. It was a tropical storm that formed in the Western Atlantic near the Lesser Antilles, and soon fizzled out. That was shortly followed by Tropical Storm Florence, which formed off the Southeast coast, and moved out to sea.
Gordon soon followed across the Florida Panhandle. Gordon was a tropical storm that almost reached hurricane strength, but didnít quite get there before landfall. It did however bring gusty winds and heavy rains to the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida. Helene shortly followed afterward, and it too almost reached hurricane strength before making landfall along the Gulf Coast of the United States. However, it stopped at only 65 mph sustained winds.
Then, during the middle of September, Hurricane Isaac became the most powerful storm of the 2000 Season to date as it strengthened to Category Four status with 140 mph winds. Meanwhile, Joyce formed and became a Category One Hurricane in the Windward islands before fizzling out in the Eastern Caribbean. However, the biggest storm of the season was yet to come as Hurricane Keith developed in the Southwestern Caribbean.
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Over the last several days of September into the first week of October, Keith gradually intensified to the strongest hurricane of the season with 145 mph winds. The storm took dead aim on the small Central American country of Belize, which was last hit hard by a major hurricane in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie ripped through Belize City, and eventually forced the government there to move its capital city inland to Belmopan.
Keith devastated the island of Caye Caulker, which is a barrier island just off the coast. During that same week to 10-day period, a subtropical storm developed over South Florida, which brought over 15 inches of rain to parts of the region including Miami. This subtropical system gained more tropical characteristics, and became Tropical Storm Leslie. Leslie, a weak tropical storm would soon move to the Northeast, and accelerate out into the Atlantic while giving Bermuda some squally weather.
After a break in activity for about three weeks, the end of October brought along Hurricane Michael, which started out near Bermuda, and ended up giving the Canadian Maritimes including the province of Newfoundland were hit with winds as high as 100 mph.
Nadine rounded out the season as a Tropical Storm off the East Coast of the United States as it followed a similar track before moving out to sea. Overall, there were a total of 15 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. None of the major hurricanes made landfall in the United States. Only a few tropical storms: Gordon, Helene, and Leslie.
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