It was 11 years ago that Hurricane Isabel, one of the most significant tropical cyclones to hit the Mid-Atlantic, made landfall along the East Coast.
- Isabel made landfall along the Mid-Atlantic on Sept. 18, 2003. Photo: NOAA
Many of us remember enduring days - some weeks - without power. Flooding and downed trees and power lines were just some of the hardships faced after Isabel slammed into the East Coast on Sept. 18, 2004.
Hurricane Isabel has gone into the record books as one of the most significant tropical cyclones to affect the Chesapeake Bay area since Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and the Chesapeake-Potomac hurricane of 1933. Here are a images of Isabel's impact in our area.
- Isabel Damage
- Isabel Damage
- Isabel Damage in Calvert County, MD
Isabel was the ninth named storm of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. It originated about 625 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands on Sept. 6, 2003. The storm tracked westward, gaining intensity and, at one point, reached Category 5 status with maximum estimated sustained winds around 165 mph. Check out Isabel's track:
By the time Isabel made landfall near Drum Point, N.C. around midday Sept. 18, it was still a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.
Isabel then tracked north-northwest, losing tropical characteristics, but still producing flooding rain and tropical storm force winds. Here's an image of the radar, as the center of Isabel tracked over North Carolina.
- Wakefield, VA NWS
The copious amounts of rain, coupled with strong winds, tore down trees and power lines and even led to a few fatalities.
Locally, the Shenandoah Valley received 6-12 inches of rain. Between two and six inches of rain fell in western Maryland and eastern West Virginia, and the Baltimore/Washington region received a total of one to three inches of rain.
At the height of the storm, Reagan National recorded a wind gust of 50 mph.
Unusually high storm surge accompanied the storm with some watersheds between six and feet above normal. The storm surge in the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River reached the highest levels since the Chesapeake/Potomac hurricane of 1933.
- USGS - http://md.water.usgs.gov/publications/press_release/2003/2003-10/
From emergency management reports, estimates of about 6 million customers lost power at some point during the storm in North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
The estimated total economic loss from Isabel was about $5 billion, according to the American Reinsurance Group. With so many people affected by the tropical cyclone, it took a long while to fully recover.
Even with the advanced warning of the hurricane, thousands of people were impacted by Isabel.