During the Atlantic Hurricane season of 1999, which is between June 1st and November 30th, there were no less than five storms measuring at least Category 4 on the barometric scale. Their names were Hurricane Bret, Hurricane Cindy, Hurricane Dennis, Hurricane Gert, and Hurricane Floyd. Scientists believe that global warming may be causing hurricanes to increase in strength, if not in frequency.
On September 14th of 1999, millions of people fled from Hurricane Floyd, which was moving across the Atlantic Ocean at a disturbing rate during the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season. Many millions of people were forced to evacuate their homes and rush inland. Many dozen deaths were reported from the Bahamas all the way to New England.
What had started as a tropical wave leaving the coast of Africa on September 2nd, eventually acquired hurricane status (and with it, a name) on September 10th. Hurricane Floyd had gained strength slowly, for lack of a well-defined inner core. Forecasts were only average, as compared to the forecasts of other hurricanes. The intensity of the storm had ebbed and flowed.
However, by September 12th, gale force winds had climbed to the speed of 140 miles an hour. Then Hurricane Floyd slipped past Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, causing minimal damage to those places in its wake. On September 14th, Floyd approached the Bahamas, where millions of dollars’ worth of damage was done, and one person was killed by the storm. Then Floyd appeared to be on a collision course with Florida. Disney World closed its doors for the first time ever, in preparation for the tempestuous weather conditions. Also, NASA operations at Cape Canaveral were shut down.
By the time Floyd hit the Florida coast the following day, it was classified as a Category 4 hurricane. Three million people had been forced to evacuate their homes. However, the brunt of Hurricane Floyd missed Florida. Instead, on September 16th, Floyd struck the coast of North Carolina, in the area of Cape Fear. By then, Hurricane Floyd was described as an extremely strong, Category 2 hurricane with wind speeds of up to 105 miles an hour. In North Carolina, driving rains caused severe flooding, and added more rain to the rain already dropped by Hurricane Dennis, which had struck the same area just weeks earlier. Many thousand houses were destroyed by flooding, or by just being washed away. At least 56 people were drowned.
Then the storm traveled all the way up the Eastern seaboard, maintaining its strength as far north as Connecticut. In total, Hurricane Floyd caused nearly seven billion dollars (USD as of 1999) in property damage, and at least 68 people died from the storm. Hurricane Floyd weakened as it continued north to the coast of Maine and into Canada, and was eventually absorbed by a cold front to the east of Newfoundland.
Hurricane Floyd had caused so much loss of life and so much property damage that the National Hurricane Center retired the name Floyd in 2000.