3,025 lives lost: Looking back at Hurricane Jeanne’s devastation 16 years later

Jeanne was last of four Florida hurricanes of 2004

(National Hurricane Center)

ORLANDO, Fla. – For many Floridians, 2004 is a year many won’t soon forget.

That’s right, it was the year the Sunshine State was slammed by four hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. Four hurricane landfalls in six weeks.

It was the first time four tropical cyclones produced hurricane-force winds, in one state, during a single season since four hurricanes made landfall in Texas in 1886.

Hurricane Jeanne was the last of of the group, making landfall early in the morning on Sept. 26, 2004, just 16 years ago this week. The Category 3 hurricane made landfall just east of Stuart, Florida on Hutchinson Island.

WKMG News 6 chief meteorologist Tom Sorrells recalls the coverage.

“It was like watching a bad episode of the same movie. Jeanne came onshore in the same vicinity just three weeks after Hurricane Frances,” he said.

The four hurricanes of 2004 that made landfall in Florida within weeks of one another. (NOAA)

Many Central Florida residents were exhausted, still without power from Hurricane Charley which made landfall, yep you guessed it, roughly three weeks prior to Frances on the west coast. Not to mention there was more damage not attended to from 23 tornadoes spawned by Frances.

Landfall wasn’t the only thing the two hurricanes had in common.

“Frances and Jeanne both were cut off lows that sat here for 36 hours. It took almost an entire weekend for the 55-mile wide eye to move across the state,” Sorrells said.

Widespread flooding added insult to injury.

Seven inches of rain fell locally on top of roughly 15 inches of rain that fell with Frances just weeks earlier. Jeanne didn’t stop there. The hurricane brought near-record flood levels up the eastern seaboard as far as New Jersey before falling apart.

Overall Jeanne left behind $6.8 billion in damage, making it the 13th costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

Across the Caribbean into Florida, 3,025 lives were lost.


About the Author:

Emmy Award Winning Meteorologist Samara Cokinos joined the News 6 team in September 2017. In her free time, she loves running and being outside.