Hurricane Grace (1991)

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Hurricane Grace
Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
Satellite image of a relatively broad cyclone.
Hurricane Grace on October 28, 1991
Formed October 26, 1991
Dissipated October 29, 1991
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 100 mph (155 km/h)
Lowest pressure 980 mbar (hPa); 28.94 inHg
Fatalities No fatalities reported
Areas affected Minor effects on Bermuda
Part of the 1991 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane Grace was a short-lived Category 2 hurricane that helped to create another cyclone known as the Perfect Storm. Hurricane Grace formed on October 26, and at first, it was a subtropical cyclone. This means it was partially tropical and partially extratropical. It became a full tropical cyclone on October 27, and later reached winds of 100 mph (155 km/h). The storm had minor effects on the island of Bermuda as it passed to the south. Another storm to the north caused Grace to turn eastward. The hurricane was absorbed into the large circulation of the other low pressure system.[1] This storm became stronger while it fed off the warm air from the remnants of Grace and the cold air to the north, and it became a powerful nor'easter. This nor'easter caused extremely high waves and severe damage along the U.S. East Coast.

Meteorological history[change | change source]

Map of the western Atlantic Ocean depicting two storm tracks
The tracks of Hurricane Grace, bottom, and the nor'easter, top

Grace's beginnings go back to a mid-level (which means it was in the middle of the atmosphere) area of low pressure that formed on October 23 to the south of Bermuda. Reports from a ship said that it had become a low-level system by October 25. At first, the storm had subtropical characteristics, and there were not a lot of thunderstorms around its center. For a storm to gain strength, strong thunderstorms need to build around it. The system was called a subtropical storm on October 26. A separate area of clouds near Bermuda slowly became involved with the subtropical storm nearby. Thunderstorms began to persist near the center of the storm. Because of this, on October 27, the storm gained tropical storm status and was named "Grace".[2]

Grace continued to organize and strengthen. Based on satellite estimates of the storm's intensity and reconnaissance reports, it was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane. This is the lowest level on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.[3] The hurricane moved towards the northwest until October 28, when an extratropical cyclone formed along a cold front. This storm quickly strengthened and became very large. It eventually caused Grace to turn quickly to the east.[4] At around the same time, an eye feature associated with Hurricane Grace began to show up on satellite pictures.[5] Grace sped up as it continued moving eastward. It reached its peak strength at winds of 100 mph (155 km/h) and a minimum central barometric pressure of 980 mbar (hPa; 28.94 inHg), making it a Category 2, on October 29.[6] The center of the hurricane passed 50 mi (80 km) south of Bermuda without significantly affecting the island.[3]

Hurricane Grace turned northeast later that day. The cold front quickly approached and overtook it. It then lost its status as a tropical system.[7] Grace moved north along the front and merged with the large storm to the north.[4] The remnants of Grace were not visible anymore by the next day.[8] The nor'easter became a very strong storm as it fed off the warm air from the remnants of Hurricane Grace and the cool air to the north.[4][8]

Preparations and impact[change | change source]

Hurricane Grace being absorbed into the nor'easter

To prepare for the hurricane, a tropical storm warning was issued for Bermuda on October 27. The next day, about 10 hours before the storm passed by the island, the tropical storm warning was made into a hurricane warning. On October 29, the hurricane warning was lowered to a tropical storm warning. This was changed to a gale warning shortly after.[6][9] Bermuda had some rain and wind from the storm.[10] The rain reached 3.21 in (82 mm).[11] However, no deaths or bad damage were reported.[7] A yacht, a type of boat, that was traveling from Bermuda to New York ran into strong winds and seas 25 ft (7.6 m) high off the Virginia coast. The nine people on the boat had to be rescued by Coast Guard helicopters.[12][13]

Because of its large size, Grace caused large waves along the East Coast of the United States.[7] These waves reached at least 15 ft (4.6 m) high. Despite minor beach erosion, no bad property damage occurred. However, Carolina Beach, North Carolina lost about 1 ft (0.30 m) of sand.[14] Because the damage from the tropical cyclone was not very bad, the name "Grace" was not retired. It was reused during the 1997 Atlantic hurricane season.

Even though the damage from Hurricane Grace was mostly small, the nor'easter it helped to form caused very bad damage along the coast. This storm created extremely high seas as well as powerful wind. Strong wind gusts were reported in New England. The storm churned the ocean for several days, and a wave 101 ft (31 m) in height was reported by an offshore buoy. Severe flooding occurred along the coast of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. and the storm's effects were felt as far north as Newfoundland. The nor'easter eventually strengthened again to become another weak hurricane which hit Nova Scotia.[4] A ship known as the Andrea Gail was lost, along with its six crew members, during the storm.[8]

Other pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Maa, Jerome P. Y. & David W. C. Wang (1995), "Wave Transformation Near Virginia Coast: the "Halloween" Northeaster", Journal of Coastal Research 11(4): 1258–1271
  2. Edward Rappaport (November 13, 1991). "Hurricane Grace Preliminary Report Page 1". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Edward Rappaport (November 13, 1991). "Hurricane Grace Preliminary Report Page 2". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Ingredients for a real 'perfect storm'". USA Today. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  5. Richard Pasch (October 28, 1991). "Hurricane Grace Discussion Number 5". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Edward Rappaport (November 13, 1991). "Hurricane Grace Preliminary Report Page 4". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Edward Rappaport (November 13, 1991). "Hurricane Grace Preliminary Report Page 3". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 National Climatic Data Center (November 13, 1991). "The Perfect Storm". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  9. Edward Rappaport (November 13, 1991). "Hurricane Grace Preliminary Report Page 7". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  10. Staff Writer (October 29, 1991). "Bermuda Braces for Brush with Hurricane Grace". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  11. David Roth. "Tropical Cyclone Rainfall". Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  12. Staff Writer (October 29, 1991). "Crew of New Bedford boat rescued; 13 others taken from yachts hit by Grace". Providence Journal. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  13. Staff Writer (October 30, 1991). "Grace Bypasses Bermuda, Heads Out Into the Atlantic". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  14. Staff Writer (October 29, 1991). "Hurricane Grace Kicks up Waves, Avoids N.C. Coast". Morning Star.,5152585&dq=hurricane+grace+swells+flood. Retrieved September 13, 2009.

Other websites[change | change source]

Tropical cyclones of the 1991 Atlantic hurricane season

Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale
TD TS C1 C2 C3 C4 C5