Event Summary
     National Weather Service, Raleigh NC


Hurricane Gaston, August 2004
Preliminary - updated 2004/09/01




Satellite Imager of Hurricane Gaston on 2004/08/30 at 1320Z - Click to enlarge



Event Headlines

...Hurricane Gaston was the 7th named storm of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season...
...4 of the first 7 named storms have impacted North Carolina...
...Hurricane Gaston made landfall near Charleston, S.C., then moved north across central North Carolina and eastern Virginia as a Tropical Depression...
...Rain bands well in advance of Gaston produced a tornado over Hoke County during Sunday afternoon, damaging several homes and trees...
...A swath of 2 to 4 inches of rain fell along Gastonís path Sunday night and Monday in central North Carolina with isolated reports of 5 to 6 inches of rain...


Overview

Tropical Depression Gaston formed off the South Carolina coast, about 140 miles southeast of Charleston, at 500 PM Friday, August 27, 2004. The system moved little during Friday night and strengthened to Tropical Storm status while it moved to within 130 miles of Charleston by 11 AM Saturday, August 28, 2004. Gaston moved slowly northwest toward the Southeast coast Saturday night and turned toward the north on Sunday morning.

Radar and satellite imagery showed that Gaston continued to get better organized as it approached the coast. Doppler radar observations indicate that Gaston reached hurricane strength just before it made landfall near Awendaw, South Carolina, between Charleston and McClellanville, around 1000 AM Sunday, with maximum sustained winds estimated near 75 MPH with a minimum pressure of 986 millibars.

Gaston weakened rapidly once it was over land during the late morning and afternoon hours while maintaining a slow northward movement across northeastern South Carolina. By 800 PM, Gaston was downgraded to a Tropical Depression while centered 20 miles east of Florence, S.C. Sustained winds were lowered to near 35 mph with higher gusts.

The system remained at tropical depression status as it slowly moved north-northeast across central North Carolina Sunday night and Monday. The circulation center tracked from just west of Lumberton at around 1200 AM Sunday to near Fort Bragg at around 400 AM, and then about 20 mile southeast of Raleigh at about 1100 AM. The center of the depression passed near Nashville at around 100 PM and finally reached the North Carolina and Virginia border near Roanoke Rapids at about 400 PM Monday.



Hurricane Gaston Track

After an initially erratic motion, Gaston followed a general arc to the northwest, north, and then northeast across the Carolinas and Virginia.

Hurricane Gaston Track
Hurricane Gaston Track - Click to enlarge
(Click on the image to enlarge.)



Detailed Hurricane Gaston Track
Hurricane Gaston Track - Click to enlarge
(Click on the image to enlarge.)




Precipitation Totals from Hurricane Gaston

The map below contains precipitation totals during the period in which Gaston impacted North Carolina (from 800 AM EDT on Sunday, August 29 through 800 AM EDT on Tuesday, August 31). It is important to note that some of the rain that fell across western North Carolina on Sunday, August 29, and late on Monday, August 30 was only indirectly related to Gaston.

Note the corridor of rain in excess of 2 inches that stretches across the central and eastern Piedmont of North Carolina. Note the somewhat unusual extent of the significant rain (greater than 2 inches) which appears to extend further away from the center on the western side of the storm track than on the east.

Maximum wind gusts from Hurricane Gaston



Maximum Wind Gusts from Hurricane Gaston

The map below contains the maximum wind gusts from Tropical Depression Gaston as it moved across North Carolina. The map shows a relatively homogenous distribution of wind gusts in the 30 to 35 MPH range across much of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. Not surprisingly, the greatest wind gusts were observed near the track of the circulation center, especially across the Sandhills region. Gaston was weakening as it crossed South Carolina and North Carolina, this meant that the Sandhills region experienced the storm while it had lost the least of its intensity.

The highest wind gusts were observed at the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport where a wind gust reached 45 MPH as well as at the Fayetteville Regional Airport and the Elizabeth City Coast Guard Air Station where gusts reached 39 MPH.

Maximum wind gusts from Hurricane Gaston




Radar Imagery of Hurricane Gaston


Long Radar Loop from KRAX Covering Gaston's Complete Track across NC
This loop of base reflectivity imagery from krax contains an image every 30 minutes from 159 PM EDT (1759Z) on
Sunday, August 29 through 500 PM EDT (2100Z) on Monday, August 30, 2004. (this may take a few minutes to download,
total file size is about ~ 3 Megs)
Load Long Loop.

Short Radar Loop from KRAX Covering Gaston's Track across Central NC
This loop of base reflectivity imagery from krax contains an image every 60 minutes from 1202 AM EDT (0402Z) on
Monday, August 30 through 357 PM EDT (1957Z) on Monday, August 30, 2004. (this may take a few moments to download,
total file size is about ~ 0.9 Megs)
Load Short Loop.



Krax Base Reflectivity Radar Imagery of Hurricane Gaston on Monday, August 30 at 630 AM EDT (1030Z).

Regional Radar Imagery of Hurricane Gaston  - Click to enlarge
(Click on the image to enlarge.)






Photographs of the Crabtree Creek in Raleigh and a downed tree in North Raleigh during the passage of Tropical Depression Gaston.
(Click the image to enlarge.)

View of the Crabtree Creek looking northwest toward Glenwood Ave in Raleigh - Click to enlarge           View of the Crabtree Creek looking southeast toward a bridge used by the Raleigh Greenway system - Click to enlarge           View of the Crabtree Creek looking northwest toward Century Drive - Click to enlarge

View of the Crabtree Creek looking southeast from under Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh- Click to enlarge           View of a tree blown down in North Raleigh - Click to enlarge           Gusty winds were common across Raleigh - Click to enlarge



Case study team -
Michael Brennan
Phil Badgett
Mike Strickler
Jonathan Blaes

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