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Hurricane Eloise
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Hurricane Eloise 2017 sep 17 0045Z
Hurricane Eloise just prior landfall in Charleston at peak intensity on September 17
Formed September 10, 2017
Dissipated September 19, 2017
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 145 mph (230 km/h)
Lowest pressure 942 mbar (hPa); 27.82 inHg
Fatalities 89 total
Damage $25 billion
(Sixth-costliest tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin; fifth-costliest in U.S. history)
Areas affected Cape Verde, Lesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas, East Coast of the United States, Atlantic Canada
Part of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Eloise was the fifth named storm, the fourth hurricane, and the fourth major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. It formed over the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on September 10, 2017. Eloise moved thousands of miles across the Atlantic, slowly strengthening to briefly reach category 2 strength around the Leeward Islands. It later crossed over Barbuda and Saint Kitts on September 14 at that strength. The storm was still intensifying as it made landfall in the U.S. Virgin Islands and made a close pass near Puerto Rico as a category 3 hurricane. Considerable weakening occurred several hours after re-emerging into the Atlantic; once again becoming a category 2 hurricane. However, it re-strengthened into a category 4 hurricane before making landfall directly in Charleston, coming ashore on Morris Island on September 17 with 140 mph sustained winds (gusts to more than 160 mph). It had devolved to a remnant low near Lake Erie by the next day. Hurricane Eloise became the most intense tropical cyclone to strike the East Coast north of Florida since Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Hurricane Eloise caused 39 fatalities (most by electrocution or drowning) in the Caribbean and 50 in South Carolina, left nearly 300,000 homeless, and resulted in $25 billion (2017 USD) in damage overall. Of this total, $20.9 billion was from the United States and Puerto Rico, ranking it as the sixth costliest storm to impact the country at the time.


Meteorological History

Eloise 2017

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

Hurricane Eloise originated as a tropical wave, which moved off the west coast of Africa on September 8. Two days after moving off the African coast, it was classified as Tropical Depression Six southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. Winds reached 35 mph (56 km/h) soon after. Moving on a steady westward track at 18 knots (21 mph, 33 k/h), Tropical Depression Six steadily intensified, becoming Tropical Storm Eloise on September 11 at 1800 UTC. On September 13, Eloise rapidly intensified, and reached hurricane strength 550 miles (885 km) east of the Leeward Islands. A low-pressure area to the south caused Eloise to turn to the west-northwest, while the storm was quickly gathering strength. Hurricane Eloise began to rapidly intensify; 12 hours after it was classified as a hurricane, it had become a category 2 hurricane. After this bout of rapid strengthening, Eloise began to rapidly deepen, becoming a major hurricane by the next evening.

Subsequently in the early hours of September 14, Eloise made landfall on Barbuda while its winds were near 100 mph (161 km/h), when hurricane-force winds extended only 63 mi (101 km) from the center. Several hours later, it made another landfall on the island of St. Kitts with the same intensity. That day, Hurricane Eloise also made landfall in St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands and bypassed Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Fajardo, having strengthened to a category 3 storm.

Eloise weakened and began to accelerate to the northwest soon after narrowly missing eastern Puerto Rico. On September 15, the hurricane was located just over a hundred miles northeast of the Dominican Republic when it began a more northward track, in response to a steering flow associated with an upper-level low pressure area that was moving across the southeastern United States. Eloise then began to strengthen again, and it reached a peak strength at 1800 UTC on September 16 as a Category 4 hurricane. The maximum sustained winds were 140 mph (230 km/h), while the minimum central pressure was 942 millibars (27.8 inHg). On September 17 at 0200 UTC, Eloise made landfall on Morris Island, South Carolina, with its strength having remained unchanged.

The storm continued inland, and weakened to a category 1 hurricane as it passed over Concord, a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina. Eloise continued on the weakening trend and weakened to a tropical storm later on the same day over western Virginia. The storm continued weakening as it moved inland, and on September 18, the storm weakened to a remnant low. Its remnant low continued to accelerate north, and it reached the far northern Atlantic before dissipating the next day on September 19.

Preparations

Impact

Impact by country or region
(estimates)
County/Region Deaths Damage Source
Antigua and Barbuda 11 $180 million
Saint Kitts and Nevis 12 $100 million
U.S. Virgin Islands 5 $3.8 billion
Puerto Rico 12 $5.9 billion
Bahamas 0 $20 million
United States 50 $15 billion
Total 89 ~$25 billion

Caribbean

United States Virgin Islands

Puerto Rico

The Bahamas

United States (mainland)

Aftermath