22.01.2018 in Analysis
Hurricane Floyd


Hurricane Floyd was the forth type of hurricane in 1999 but the third most serious to occur in the United States. It is a storm that led to the third largest evacuation totalling to 2.6 million coastal residents from five states in the United States, after Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Rita. Hurricane is a kind of tropical cyclone that characterised by low pressure centres and thunderstorms that lead to strong winds and very heavy rainfall. Hurricane is rated using Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale which is a classification used in measuring hemisphere tropical cyclones whose intensities are above tropical storms and depressions (Zervas 2000).  To be rated as hurricane, the tropical cyclone must have a rating of at least 74 mph. Hurricane Floyd was rated to be a strong category four hurricane, which is among the highest rating of Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded.

Causes of Hurricane

Hurricane is caused by tropical cyclone and wave  that are a type of atmospheric trough which is an extended area of relatively low air pressure, inclined from north to south, and progresses across the tropics from east to west. This results into areas of cloudiness and thunderstorms (Zervas 2000).

The tropical waves usually follow a sinking area named trough with very dry air that blows from the northeast. After is passes the trough line, the wind moves to southeast direction and the humidity rises abruptly destabilizing the atmosphere. This eventually results into widespread rainfall and severe thunderstorms, that when its rating exceed 74 mph, then is classified as hurricane (Zervas 2000). There are five categories of hurricane; the first rated between 74-95 mph and is strong enough to cause structural damages and fall trees. The second category include Diana of 1990 and Thomas of 2010 and is rated between 96-110 mph which are strong storms with enough power to lift houses, damage poorly fixed doors and windows and damage vegetation.

The third level category include Lane (2006), Karl (2010) and is rated between 111-130 mph, described as major hurricane, capable of destroying building with poor foundation and the larger structures sunk by the floating debris. The fourth category including Floyd is rated between 131-155mph and can cause complete irreparable damages of structures and vegetation including extensive erosions and long lived electricity and water losses. The final fifth category is the highest tropical cyclone that can ever be recorded by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale rated above 156 mph and causes very heavy irreparable damages of industrial structures. The structures that can survive are those that are 3-5 miles inland and have strong steel foundations (Zervas 2000).

Specifics about Hurricane Floyd

Hurricane Floyd occurred from September 2, 1999 and started as a tropical wave from the coast of Africa. The wave progressed steadily until September 7, when it curved at the centre to form a deep convection called tropical depression Eight at a time the storm was 1600 km to the east of Lesser Antilles (Zervas 2000). A strong ridge characterised with high pressure was further formed and pushed the developed tropical cyclone to strengthen and develop to the Floyd on 8th September 1999. 0n 10th September, the Floyd developed to hurricane status and on September 11 while north of Leeward Islands. 24 hours later, the wind reached its maximum from 110-155mph due to the high oceanic heat, western part of Caribbean Sea and made land falls on Eleuthera and Abaco Islands as it crossed Bahamas. The power of the Floyd then subsided from September 16 and 17 as it moved to the northeast over Canadian Maritimes and was finally absorbed to the east of Newfoundland (National Weather Service 2011).

Reason for the occurrence of Hurricane Floyd

Hurricane Floyd was caused by natural causes as a result of development of tropical storms, cyclones and waves that progressed due to the different build up of pressure levels and humidity levels from the coast of Africa. The waves changed direction to the north and to the western part of Caribbean Sea with the wind reaching its maximum of 155mph.

Impacts of Hurricane Floyd

Hurricane Floyd created greatest negative impacts in the United States after 1972 Hurricane Agnes  With 57 deaths reported mostly in eastern North of Carolina and the highest cost in US history amounting to 4.5 billion 1999. Newfoundland (National Weather Service 2011).

These impacts were felt in several areas as below:

1) Bahamas

Hurricane Floyd lashed the Bahamas with highest waves of 155 mph. The wind and waves destroyed power and communication lines, and as a result extensively disrupted electricity and telephone services for several days. Destruction was greatest at Abaco Island, , San Salvador Island, Cat Island and Eleuthera Island, where Floyd toppled vegetation including  trees and uprooted a number of houses,  hotels, Numerous restaurants, homes and shops. It also affected tourism which was majorly relied on for economic well-being by the locals as well as damaging water systems thus leaving thousands across archipelago without water, and food (Moore 2004).

Inter-American Development Bank loaned $21 million (1999 USD; $27.7 million 2011 USD) to the Archipelago to restore bridges, roads, seawalls, docks, and other building projects in the aftermath of the hurricane (Hurricane Floyd disaster down East 1999).

2) Southeastern United States

In Florida, the major effect of the Floyd was beach erosion on the east coast, loss of some boat piers in Brevard and Volusia Counties. The winds also fell hundreds of trees, damaging 357 houses with the total damage being $46.5 million (1999 USD in northeast Florida.

Georgia and South Carolina states were however not damaged but received substantial rainfall amounting to 410 mm. North Carolina experienced 35 fatalities and billions of storm destruction majorly from extensive freshwater flooding like the Tar river stretching 24 ft above flood stage and 500000 people missing electricity for weeks  (Moore 2004).

The hurricane also spawned numerous tornadoes, most of which caused only minor damage. The widespread flooding made over ten thousand relocated to temporary tents with others being saved from roof tops (Hurricane Floyd disaster down East 1999).

3) Virginia

Many rivers overflowed in the Chowan River Basin. This flooding up to 12ft above the normal caused extensively damaged roads, isolating the area from the rest of the state with 182 businesses premises and 9250 houses submerged, 3 people killed and a total value of $101 million 1999 USD equivalent to133 million 2011USD damaged. At the same time, two dams along the Rappahannock river burst due to extreme flooding.

4) Mid-Atlantic

Hurricane Floyd also caused Extreme River flooding that resulted in moderate destruction of bridges and roads. Total damage amounted to $7.9 million (1999 USD; $10.4 million 2011 USD) in New York State and at the same time, over 250,000 residents lacked electricity (Moore 2004).

5) New England and Canada

The hurricane caused large power outages, mudslides in western Massachusetts and flood damage across New England including falling down trees.

Possible future Precautions

The federal government should step up the response when such disasters strike. The metrological department should make accurate forecasts early in advance and precautions to be given to the residents of the possible areas to be affected by future Hurricane of whatever category.

Evacuation should be done before the disaster strikes and the structures constructed around these areas should be above board with very strong steel foundation but not the floating houses with wooden walls that can sustain the Hurricane wind and waves.

Health facilities should be prepared in advance to take care of possible outbreaks of diseases and at the same time nuclear energy points constructed further from such areas.

Dam construction should be done to the quality that can sustain over flooding effects and overflow points well structured. Power line and water systems need to be stronger to avoid contamination and possible electrocution.


Hurricane Floyd is a fourth out of five categories of hurricane that was the worst to hit United States in 1999 between September 2 and 19. It is caused by developed tropical cyclone and waves that progress to the level of Floyd. It had a lot of impacts amounting to millions of USD and loss of 57 lives. Future precautions should be put in place to reduce the effects of such heavy hurricanes

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