Hurricanes and Tropical Storms - August 2003

Atlantic Basin

Satellite image of Hurricane Fabian
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Hurricane Fabian was the onl-y hurricane to develop during the month of August, though in total, there were four tropical systems that formed during the month. Fabian was the first 'major' hurricane of the season (category three or higher on the Saffir simpson scale), and eventually reached category four strength. The storm was a 'Cape Verde hurricane' developing on August 27th about 370 miles (596 km) west of the Cape Verde Islands. Tropical storm strength was reached on the 28th and Fabian became a hurricane on the 29th, reaching 'major hurricane' status on the 30th. Fabian reached category four strength on the 31st, but did not reach maximum windspeeds of 125 kts (144 mph, 231 kph) until September 1st. As the storm recurved in the western Atlantic, hurricane warnings were issued for the island of Bermuda and Fabian's eye passed very slightly to the west of the island on the afternoon of September 5th. Four deaths in Bermuda were directly blamed on the storm.
Other named tropical systems in August were Erika and Grace, with short-lived Tropical Depression #9 also developing in the eastern Caribbean. TD #9 developed on August 21st from a fast-moving tropical wave. The depression dissipated south of Hispaniola the following day after moving west-northwestward.
Tropical Storm Grace developed at the end of August from a tropical wave which traveled across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on the 29th. The storm never became very organized, but was of tropical storm strength by the time it made landfall at Port O' Connor, Texas on August 31st with maximum sustained winds near 65 km/hr (35 knots or 40 mph). Heavy rainfall was the primary impact of Grace, with 50-130 mm (2-5 inches) common along parts of the Texas Gulf Coast. Click Here for a satellite image of Tropical Storm Grace near the Texas coast on August 31, 2003
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Satellite image of Tropical Storm Erika south of Brownsville, TX on August 16, 2003larger image Tropical Storm Erika developed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico on the 14th and crossed into northern Mexico about 45 miles (70 km) southeast of Brownsville, TX in the United States on the 16th. Maximum sustained winds at the time of landfall were near 60 kts (110 km/hr or 70 mph). No significant damage or flooding was reported in south Texas, although trees were downed and roof damage occurred along the coast of northern Mexico (Associated Press).

Pacific Basin

Four tropical systems developed during August with two reaching hurricane strength. Hurricane Ignacio developed off the west coast of Mexico on the 21st and became a hurricane by the 24th as it entered the Gulf of California. Ignacio made landfall along Mexico's Baja Peninsula on the 26th, along with very heavy rainfall and maximum sustained winds near 65 knots (75 mph 120 km/hr). The storm battered the city of La Paz for more than 48 hours with strong winds and flooding rains. By the 27th, Ignacio had weakened into a tropical depression as it tracked over the central Baja Peninsula. Click Here for a satellite image of Huricane Ignacio on August 25, 2003
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A tropical depression developed in the eastern Pacific on August 7th, strengthening to become Tropical Storm Guillermo on the 8th. Peak wind speeds of 50 kts (58 mph/93 kph) were reached later that day for Guillermo. By the 10th, Guillermo was weakening and the storm became a depression again on the 11th. Tropical Storm Hilda was active at the same time as Guillermo but was weaker reaching only 35 kts (40 mph/65 kph)at its peak on August 9th. Hilda weakened on the 11th and had dissipated by the 13th.

A system which formed later in the month developed into Hurricane Jimena, eventually threatening the Hawaiian islands. Jimena became a tropical storm on August 28th and quickly reached hurricane strength the following day about 1300 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii. Maximum windspeeds of 90 kts (104 mph/167 kph) were reached on August 30th (category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale). The storm passed close to the Big Island of Hawaii on September 1st, but weakened into a tropical storm as it did so. Damage was light on the Big Island though as many as 1,500 residents were without power and rainfall amounts ranged from 3.74 inches (95 mm) at Hilo Airport to 6.42 inches (163 mm) at Mountain View (NWS/CPHC)

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Hurricanes and Tropical Storms for August 2003, published online September 2003, retrieved on January 19, 2018 from