Looking Back at the Extremely Destructive Hurricane Ivan… 10 Years Ago Tonight… Monday Night Update – 10:45pm #alwx


Tonight is the 10 year anniversary of the landfall of powerful Hurricane Ivan. Ivan caused significant damage to much of Alabama, with numerous trees and power lines down from the coast northward into the Tennessee Valley. At 1:50am, Ivan made landfall very close to Gulf Shores, Alabama as a category strong category 3 hurricane. The official landfall would occur in the pre-dawn hours of September 16, 2004. Ivan maintained hurricane status as far north as Uniontown before being downgraded to a strong tropical storm. Below is a radar image as Hurricane Ivan made landfall…


Ivan caused extensive damage across nearly all of Central Alabama, with winds of 60 to 80 MPH south of a line from Emelle to Greensboro to Marion. There were some wind gusts near 90 MPH around Linden and Demopolis. I remember Ivan personally, as I was living in Linden (central Marengo County) at the time. We didn’t have power at my home in Linden for 6 days. Some people in that area didn’t have power for over 2 weeks. The most drastic experience from that storm came from the constant sound of trees snapping and wind roaring through the trees; in-fact, in some of the higher gusts, it sounded similar to a jet engine. There were many others in the area that reported that similar sound. Roads were covered in leaves, limbs and trees, so travel was a mess for a day or two, especially on the secondary roads.

Winds in the Tuscaloosa area ranged between 50 and 60 MPH. With very heavy rain, Ivan’s winds brought down many trees. As soil becomes saturated, it is easier for winds to bring down trees. Rain was another big deal from Ivan, with the highest rainfall total coming from Birmingham, with a rainfall total of 9.81 inches.


The image above is of HWY 59, coming into Gulf Shores after the storm…

Below is a picture of Sea N Suds after Hurricane Ivan…

gulf_shores_sea_n_suds (1)

Here’s a great post from NOAA on Hurricane Ivan from the beginning to end of it’s life cycle:

On September 2, 2004, Tropical Depression Nine formed from a large tropical wave southwest of Cape Verde. As the system moved to the west, it strengthened gradually, becoming Tropical Storm Ivan on September 3 and reaching hurricane strength on September 5, 1,150 miles to the east of Tobago. Later that day, the storm intensified rapidly, and by 5 pm EDT, Ivan became a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph. The National Hurricane Center said that the rapid strengthening of Ivan on September 5 was unprecedented at such a low latitude in the Atlantic basin.

As it moved west, Ivan weakened slightly because of wind shear in the area. The storm passed over Grenada on September 7, battering several of the Windward Islands. As it entered the Caribbean Sea, Ivan reintensified rapidly and became a Category 5 hurricane just north of the Windward Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao and Bonaire) and Aruba on September 9 with winds reaching 160 mph. Ivan weakened slightly as it moved west-northwest towards Jamaica. As Ivan approached the island late on September 10, it began a westward jog that kept the eye and the strongest winds to the south and west. However, because of its proximity to the Jamaican coast, the island was battered with hurricane-force winds for hours.

After passing Jamaica, Ivan resumed a more northerly track and regained Category 5 strength. Ivan’s strength continued to fluctuate as it moved west on September 11, and the storm attained its highest winds of 165 mph as it passed within 30 miles of Grand Cayman. Ivan reached its peak strength with a minimum central pressure of 910mb on September 12, making Ivan the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, as of August 2007. Ivan passed through the Yucatán Channel late on September 13 while its eyewall affected the westernmost tip of Cuba. Once over the Gulf of Mexico, it weakened slightly to Category 4 strength, which it maintained while approaching the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Just before it made landfall in the United States, Ivan’s eyewall weakened considerably, and its southwestern portion almost disappeared. Around 2 am CDT September 16, Ivan made landfall on the U.S. mainland in Gulf Shores, Alabama as a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds; some hurricane information sources put the winds from Hurricane Ivan near 130 mph upon landfall in Alabama and northwestern Florida. Ivan then continued inland, maintaining hurricane strength until it was over central Alabama. Ivan weakened rapidly that evening and became a tropical depression the same day, still over Alabama. Ivan lost tropical characteristics on September 18 while crossing Virginia. Later that day, the remnant low drifted off the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast into the Atlantic Ocean, and the low pressure disturbance continued to dump rain on the United States.

On September 20, Ivan’s remnant surface low completed an anticyclonic loop and moved across the Florida peninsula. As it continued west across the northern Gulf of Mexico, the system reorganized and again took on tropical characteristics. On September 22 the National Hurricane Center, “after considerable and sometimes animated in-house discussion the demise of Ivan,” determined that the low was in fact a result of the remnants of Ivan and thus named it accordingly. On the evening of September 23, the revived Ivan made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana as a tropical depression. Ivan finally dissipated on September 24 as it moved overland into Texas….

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Richard Scott

WVUA Chief Meteorologist


Twitter: Richard_wvua


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