Figure 1. Best track analysis of Hurricane Dennis, who made landfall in western Cuba as a powerful category 4 hurricane1.
Light Red=Category 1-2 Hurricane
Dark Red=Category 3-5 Hurricane
Dennis was a very powerful, early-season hurricane following closely on the heels of hurricane Cindy, which impacted the Northern Gulf Coast just five days prior. Dennis developed into an extremely intense Category 4 hurricane just before to making landfall around Punta del Ingles on the northwestern corner of Cuba2. Dennis produced widespread damage from the Caribbean to the southeastern United States.
The average cumulative number of hurricanes by the end of July is roughly 0.5, (see figure 2) meaning that on average, one hurricane will form in the Atlantic Basin during the month of July every two years. Similarly, the average cumulative number of major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater) from 1 July to 1 August is less than 0.1. So based strictly on a climatological sense, Dennis was a one in ten year event in the Atlantic Basin.
Figure 2. Average Cumulative Number of Tropical Systems Per Year—revealing that an average season doesn’t see a category 3 hurricane develop until the beginning to middle of September. By September 15, the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season had already produced four major hurricanes: Dennis, Emily, Katrina, and Maria3.
Dennis developed into a tropical depression (TD5) late Monday night in the extreme eastern Caribbean at the southern end of the Lesser Antilles. Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) across the entire Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico were anomalously high—ranging from 28 degrees C near the Antilles, to over 30 degrees C closer to the Gulf.
Given the favorable upper level winds and very high SSTs, Dennis began a quick intensification, and 12 hours after classification as a Tropical Depression, the National Hurricane Center named Dennis the fourth Tropical Storm of the season. This was the earliest date that four named storms had developed in the Atlantic Ocean4.
Dennis continued to strengthen over the next 12-18 hours, becoming a Hurricane at 6PM EDT on 6 July. Dennis reached his peak intensity just before making landfall in northwestern Cuba, with maximum sustained winds near 150 mph—just under Category 5 intensity. Dennis proceeded to cross over the northern tip of Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane—suffering from being cut off from the warm Ocean waters for over 12 hours. Once back over water, however, Dennis began another intensification phase, re-gaining Category 4 status early on 10 July. Dennis made landfall later that day near Pensacola, Florida as a Category 3 hurricane.
Data, Images and Animations
+Explore and analyze gridded data of the hurricane using the GES-DISC Interactive Online Visualization and Analysis Infrastructure (Giovanni)
+Use Mirador or WHOM to obtain data provided by the GES DISC DAAC for a hurricane event.
+View animations and images of Hurricane Dennis in the 2005 Past Hurricane Archive.
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MODIS Aqua RGB using the MOD02HKM product. This image is of the swath data from July 08 at 1635 hrs. More images like this and parameters animation created from other datasets can be seen in our Archive Image Gallery for hurricane Dennis
1. Image courtesy of the NOAA coastal Services Center Http://hurricane.csc.noaa.gov/hurricanes
2. Beven, Jack. “Tropical Cyclone Report. Hurricane Dennis.” 22 November 2005. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2005atlan.shtml (8 July 2006).