|Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)|
Hurricane Gabrielle at peak intensity
|Formed||August 30, 1989|
|Dissipated||September 13, 1989|
|Lowest pressure||939 mbar (hPa; 27.73 inHg)|
|Leeward Islands, Bermuda, U.S. East Coast beaches|
|Part of the
1989 Atlantic hurricane season
Hurricane Gabrielle was the seventh named storm, fourth hurricane and first major hurricane of the 1989 Atlantic hurricane season. Gabrielle formed from a tropical depression on August 30, 1989, and moved west-northwestward before recurving and becoming a Category 4 hurricane on September 5. Gabrielle reached a peak intensity of 145 mph (225 km/h) before weakening into a tropical storm seven days later and dissipating southeast of Atlantic Canada on September 13.
Although the storm never made landfall, its large size and powerful winds produced high surf across the northern Leeward Islands, Bermuda and Eastern United States. The waves caused nine fatalities (eight in the United States and one in Canada) and moderate beach erosion.
A tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa on August 28 and developed a well organized circulation and became Tropical Depression Ten on August 30. Located 1,000 miles (1609 km) southeast of Tropical Storm Felix, the depression tracked westward as a high pressure ridge formed between the two storms. Satellite imagery showed the storm developing a good outflow pattern and the data from the satellite imagery prompted the National Hurricane Center to upgrade the system to tropical storm status and name it Gabrielle on August 31, 1989.
Tropical Storm Gabrielle then moved westward at 17 mph (27 km/h) where it rapidly reached hurricane strength late on September 2, 625 miles (1006 km) west of Cape Verde. On the same day, Gabrielle's winds reached to 105 mph (169 km/h) as the storm was 1,200 miles (1,931 km) east of the Leeward Islands. By September 3, a ridge of high pressure formed a wedge between Gabrielle and Felix and on September 4, a trough extending from the Atlantic Canada southeastward to Florida caused Gabrielle to recurve northwestward, which had already reached Category 4 status at that point. On September 5, hurricane hunter aircraft reported winds of at least 74 mph extending 100 miles (161 km) from the center and tropical storm force winds 250 miles (402 km) from the center as Gabrielle recurved west-northwest at 15 mph (24 km/h).
Hours later, another recon flight into Gabrielle revealed that the barometric pressure was slowly rising and the eye began to expand which is sign that the storm was slowly weakening. However, forecasters were unsure if the weakening was temporary or definite prompting one meteorologist to say that "Gabrielle may have reached its peak intensity, but its too early to tell"-to explain the uncertainty of Gabrielle’s strength and if the storm will strengthen even further. The concerns were addressed when Gabrielle reached a peak intensity of 145 mph (225 km/h) and a low barometric pressure of 939 millibars although the National Hurricane Center suggested the barometric pressure may have ranged from 935 to 944 millibars. The storm passed northeastward of the Leeward Islands and turned northward in response to a weakening in the ridge of high pressure caused by Hurricane Felix. Moving northward at 14 mph (23 km/h) , the winds of Gabrielle weakened as it bypassed Bermuda as a Category 2 hurricane.
Gabrielle then weakened to a Category 1 hurricane before it stalled 475 miles (764 km) southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts by September 10 as it interacted with a frontal trough extending north to south across the western Atlantic Ocean. Embedded in the jet stream, Gabrielle drifted slowly westward as it weakened to a tropical storm and recurved again to the east in response to an approaching cold front. Gabrielle then dissipated on September 12 and merged with a developing extratropical storm on September 13.
The National Hurricane Center stated in its forecast on September 3 that Gabrielle has a 10 percent chance of affecting the Leeward Islands in three days. On September 5, meteorologists forecast the storm to bypass north of the Virgin Islands and told the press that it is too early to suggest that the storm might hit the United States four or five days ahead of its current position. In Jamaica, although Gabrielle was not officially forecast to hit the island, a missionary traveling across the island told residents about a prophecy that Jamaica will face doom and suggested that the disaster might be ether Hurricane Gabrielle or another hurricane in the near future.
As Hurricane Gabrielle moved west-northwest, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center advised residents along the East Coast of the United States to monitor the storm because of its large size and strong swells it is producing. When Gabrielle, recurved northwestward, the National Hurricane Center forecast the outer edge of the hurricane to graze Bermuda, bringing tropical storm force winds and strong waves to the island. In Bermuda, cruise ships and other water craft were advised of rough seas and many residents rushed to stores to buy emergency supplies.
Numerous ships came in contact with Hurricane Gabrielle, two of the ships reported winds of 60 mph (97 km/h) and barometric pressures of 992 and 997 millibars. None of the ships reported any damage.
In Barbados, Gabrielle brought 10 ft (3 m) waves and flooding to the island nation, causing minor damage. There were no fatalities or injuries. In Dominica and Guadeloupe, waves from Gabrielle caused severe beach erosion along the north and east coasts of the island but moderate damage was reported. However, the erosion brought by Gabrielle and later Hurricane Hugo resulted loss of 14 ft (4.4 m) of beach. The Caribbean islands of Nevis and British Virgin Islands also sustained minor to moderate beach erosion. In Bermuda, waves of 10–20 ft (4.6–6 m) were reported.
A weather buoy in Outer Banks, North Carolina reported swells up to 10 feet (3 meters). Waves between 5 to 13 feet (1.5-4 meters) were reported along the East Coast of the United States from Florida to Maryland. In Rhode Island two teenagers were rescued by the United States Coast Guard after being swept into the water by the waves. In Tenants Harbor, Maine, a 19 year old woman drowned after slipping off a rock shoreline. Two men who were with her tried to rescue the woman but to no avail as the rough seas overpowered them. The men themselves were later rescued by the crew of a fishing boat.
In New Hampshire, the United States Coast Guard rescued two surfers while looking for a swimmer who was reported missing earlier. Near Boston, Massachusetts, a 25 year old man was reported missing in the Ipswich River north of Cape Ann after a motorboat capsized in the rough surf. Two other occupants including an infant were rescued. In New York City, a 37 year old man was reported missing and presumed dead after his houseboat capsized in the heavy surf. Another houseboat also capsized, drowning a 58 year old woman. On shore, a large wave swept two fishermen into the sea, where they drowned. Overall, Hurricane Gabrielle left eight people dead. No damage estimate from Gabrielle’s impact on the United States exists.
In Atlantic Canada, Gabrielle produced waves 20–30 feet (6.1-9.1 meters) high along the south coast of Nova Scotia. One fatality was reported in Atlantic Canada when a man drowned near Ketch Harbour when a wave swept him into the ocean.
Because the damage from Hurricane Gabrielle was minimal, the name was not retired by the World Meteorological Organization in their meeting in the spring of 1990 and as a result it was re-used in 1995, 2001, and 2007. It is currently on the list of names for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season.