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You are here: GES DISC Home Hurricanes Additional Features Science Focus HURRICANE OPHELIA SEPTEMBER 6-17 2005


Hurricane Ophelia track diagram

Figure 1. Best Track analysis of Hurricane Ophelia.1


Storm Status

Wind Speed

Green=Tropical Depression

<39 mph

Yellow=Tropical Storm

39-73 mph

Light Red=Category 1-2 Hurricane

74-110 mph

Dark Red=Category 3-5 Hurricane


Ophelia was the fifteenth named storm of the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the season’s eighth hurricane.  She brushed the Southeast Coast as a Category 1 Hurricane before moving quickly northeastward towards Nova Scotia.

Storm History

Ophelia appears to have developed in association with a large tropical wave in the Bahamas.  Between 3 and 5 September, showers and thunderstorms were present around the wave, but not organized enough to be classified as a Tropical Depression.  At 11 AM EDT on 6 September, however, a burst of deep convection concentrated itself around a low-level circulation center, and the National Hurricane Center classified the disturbance as Tropical Depression Sixteen 2


Early the next morning, satellite imagery revealed Ophelia had developed a fairly well organized convective center, with cloud tops approached -73 degrees C.  Thus, Tropical Depression Sixteen was upgraded to Tropical Storm Ophelia3.  During the next 24 hours, Ophelia continued a gradual intensification as she completed a tiny anticyclonic (counter-clockwise) loop. 

 Ophelia briefly became a hurricane on 8 September after WSR-88D radars out of Florida revealed hurricane-force winds in Ophelia’s southern eyewall, before weakening back to a Tropical Storm six hours later.  Ophelia sped up slightly afterwards, and once again became a hurricane on 9 September, before again weakening to a Tropical Storm.

Tropical Storm Ophelia then completed another loop—this time in a clockwise fashion—and became a hurricane for a third time on September 10 before weakening to a Tropical Storm yet again on September 12 4.  Ophelia became a hurricane once more on September 14 while grazing the Southeast Coastline from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.  Ophelia then weakened to a Tropical Storm on September 16 while accelerating northeastward at 20-25 mph, before becoming extratropical on September 18 near the Canadian Maritimes.            


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 Ophelia in the 2005 Past Hurricane Archive.


Ophelia RGB
MODIS Aqua RGB using the MOD02HKM product. This image is of the swath data from Sept 13 at 1835 hrs. More images like this and parameters animation created from other datasets can be seen in our Archive Image Gallery for hurricane Ophelia .


1. Image courtesy of the NOAA coastal Services Center  Http://

2. Avila, Lixion. “Tropical Depression 16 Discussion Number 1.” 6 September 2005. (12 July 2006).

3. Stewart, Stacy. “Tropical Depression 16 Discussion Number 4.”7 September 2005.   (12 July 2006).

4. Cobb, Hugh; Beven, Jack. “Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Ophelia.” 24 January 2006. (12 July 2006).

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Last updated: May 27, 2010 04:35 PM ET