Hurricane Edouard was the fifth named storm, fourth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 1996 Atlantic hurricane season. Edouard was the strongest storm of the season, becoming a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds and a pressure of 933 mb at its peak. Edouard also retained major hurricane status for 8 days, an unusually long time for an Atlantic hurricane. Edouard was a Cape Verde hurricane, forming near the coast of Africa in the middle of August. Edouard initially moved westward, then it curved to the north. Edouard became extratropical southeast of New England on September 3.

Edouard caused hurricane-force wind gusts to areas of southeastern Massachusetts, while remaining offshore. Initially, Edouard was forecast to strike the northeastern United States, but this did not occur. The winds caused $3.5 million (1996 USD) in damage, and Edouard also produced high waves and rip currents off the northeastern United States, killing two people in New Jersey, as well as causing numerous injuries.

Edouard at peak intensity
Formation August 19, 1996
Dissipation September 3, 1996
Highest winds 145 mph
Lowest pressure 933 mbar
Deaths 2 direct
Damages $3.5 million (1996 USD)
Areas affected Mid-Atlantic States, New England

Meteorological History

On August, 19 a tropical wave moved off the coast of Africa, accompanied by spiral bands of convection located around a low-pressure area. Once the wave reached the Atlantic Ocean, a large circulation quickly developed, and the system organized into Tropical Depression Five late on August 19 while located 345 miles southeast of the Cape Verde Islands. Initially, forecasts predicted that the depression would greatly intensify, with one forecast calling for the depression to become a hurricane within 3 days. This did not happen, however, and the depression remained disoragnized, and finally became a tropical storm on August 22, receiving the name Edouard. After forming, Edouard quickly strengthened, due to an upper-level anticyclone over the storm. Edouard moved to the west in response to a strong subtropical ridge to its north, and on August 23, Edouard became a hurricane. Because of very favorable atmospheric conditions, Edouard underwent rapid intensification on August 24 and August 25, becoming a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds, which was Edouard's peak intensity. At this time, the pressure also fell to a very low 933 mb. Because of a weakness in the subtropical ridge, Edouard began to move more to the west-northwest, and Edouard passed about 250 miles north of the Lesser Antilles on August 28. For three days during the time Edouard became a Category 4, Edouard maintained Category 4 intensity, a rarity in Atlantic tropical cyclones.

Late on August 28 though, Edouard began to weaken due to an eyewall replacement cycle, as well as increase in vertical wind shear. Late on August 29, Edouard developed three concentric eyewalls, an unusual occurence, which brought the strength of Edouard back to 140 mph as a Category 4 hurricane. A mid-tropospheric trough turned Edouard to the north, into an area of unfavorable atmospheric conditions. On August 31, Edouard weakened into a Category 3 hurricane. On September 1, the eye passed about midway between Bermuda and Cape Hatteras, and Edouard turned to the north-northeast. Edouard continued to weaken as it turned to the northeast, and on September 2, Edouard passed about 95 miles southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts as an 80 mph Category 1 hurricane, its closest point of approach to the United States. On September 3, Edouard weakened to a tropical storm, and became extratropical shortly thereafter while located to the south of Nova Scotia, and to the southeast of New England. After becoming extratropical, Edouard turned to the east, then moved around the periphery of a larger extratropical system until it became fully absorbed by the storm on September 7.


A high-pressure system over New England resulted in the possibility that Edouard would track to the west and strike the United States. One computer model predicted the hurricane would strike near Atlantic City, New Jersey with winds of over 111 mph (178 km/h) on Labor Day. This caused Cape May County officials to contemplate ordering an evacuation for the busiest tourist weekend of the year, though an evacuation never occurred. Due to the possibility for a landfall on the East Coast of the United States, officials at the National Hurricane Center issued Tropical Storm and Hurricane Watches and Warnings from Cape Lookout, North Carolina to Eastport, Maine at various times. Tropical storm warnings existed from North Carolina to Watch Hill, Rhode Island and from the mouth of the Merrimack River to the United States/Canada border, while hurricane warnings existed from Watch Hill, Rhode Island to Merrimack River, Massachusetts. Hurricane watches were also issued for the tropical storm warning area.

In North Carolina, Cape Lookout was closed and evacuated prior to the storm's passage. Because a Hurricane Watch existed for the New York City metropolitan area, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani urged citizens to take preparations. In addition, city officials set up a hurricane helpline, activated the city's Emergency Command Center at the Police Headquarters, and distributed leaflets to flood-prone areas. Near New Bedford, Massachusetts, where landfall was predicted to occur, schools were prepared as shelters in case of a direct hit. New Bedford Mayor issued a state of emergency for the city. However, few people stayed in shelters during the storm's passage. On Cape Cod, thousands of tourists and summer residents evacuated in preparation for the storm, resulting in an 18-mile (29 km) traffic backup. As a result, many beach resorts lost millions in potential revenue. Of those who remained on Cape Cod, 900 stayed in emergency shelters when the storm passed the area. In Boston's Logan International Airport, numerous flights were cancelled or delayed to move planes to safety. Many sailors removed their boats from the water prior to the storm. At one time in Mattapoisett Harbor, workers removed boats at a rate of one every eight minutes. In Maine, the Red Cross opened several emergency shelters, though they were never used. Like in Massachusetts, sailors removed their boats, and due to media coverage, residents were well-prepared for the hurricane.


In spite of initial predictions, Edouard's effects were much less than expected. It produced high waves along the East Coast of the United States, killing 2 and injuring a number of other people. Damage was greatest on Cape Cod, where moderately strong wind gusts caused $3.5 million in damage (1996 USD).

Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic States

In South Carolina, minor coastal erosion was reported in Charleston and Colleton Counties. Swells of up to 15 feet, in combination with high waves, caused overwash on Route 12 on Hatteras Island, with minor beach erosion occuring. Also, moderately strong winds in excess of 50 mph downed a few trees, as well as caused shingles to peel off the roofs of some buildings. In Delaware, rough surf closed numerous coastal beaches, while storm tides and waves flooded a campground near the Indian River in Sussex County. Also, strong waves in New Jersey killed two people and seriously injured another. Lifeguards made numerous rescues along the coast, with other beaches being closed, or having restrictions on bathing. The winds along the coastline of New Jersey were minor, peaking at less than 30 mph.

In New York, Edouard produced strong waves and a storm surge of 1 to 2 feet, causing overwash along southern Long Island because of high tide. Coastal flooding also occured, including in Hampton Bays where the waves flooded one road and covered another road with sand. The flooding trapped six cars, with strong waves forcing the closure of several beaches in the state. Because Edouard moved through the New York Shipping Channel, numerous reports of winds over hurricane-force came from ships in Edouard's path. On land, winds remained below tropical storm-force. Also, a boat capsized off of Jones Beach Island, though thankfully, the passengers were not injured. A Celebrity Cruises cruise ship suffered damage from 30 to 50 foot waves produced by Edouard, injuring several passengers and crew members onboard. Rainfall from Edouard was minimal, peaking at less than a half inch in eastern Long Island.

New England and Canada

Edouard passed about 95 miles southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, while only moving at 12 mph, much slower than previous New England hurricanes. Because of the slow speed, hours of strong winds, waves, and rain pounded Nantucket Island. Edouard produced waves as high as 31 feet, which washed twelve boats ashore and damaged numerous others. The strong winds, as well as a storm surge of 2.1 feet in Nantucket flooded a few coastal roads. Edouard produced tropical storm-force winds across much of Massachusetts, as well as one hurricane-force wind gust on Nantucket Island. In addition, there were reports (although unofficial) of stronger winds occuring, with a gust of 77 mph on Cape Cod, 80 mph on Martha's Vineyard, and 90 mph on Nantucket. Edouard's strong winds caused power outages to 2/3 of Nantucket, all of Martha's Vineyard for 6 hours, and most of Cape Cod for several hours. Power outages affected 35,000 to 40,000 across Massachusetts, but they were far from the power outages caused by Hurricane Bob just 5 years prior.

Edouard's strong winds also downed numerous trees, and blew the roof off of the fire station in Hyannis. Rainfall from Edouard was moderate, peaking at 6.37 inches in West Dennis, with many other locations picking up 3 inches of rain. The heavy rainfall caused minor street flooding. Damage on Cape Cod totalled to $3.5 million (1996 USD). In New Hampshire, Edouard produced wind gusts as high as 38 mph, and around an inch of rain along the coast. In Maine, heavy surf closed several beaches, as well as injured two people. Waves also damaged several boats. Near the coast, winds were moderate, peaking at 47 mph, with gusts to 54 mph at Mount Desert Island. The winds knocked down several trees, and also caused sporadic power outages throughout the state of Maine, including the loss of power for 1,900 Portland residents. In Kittery, water fell through an office building, damaging computer equipment. Rainfall was minor, peaking at 1.23 inches in Eastport.

In southern Nova Scotia, Edouard produced heavy rainfall, ranging from 3.7 inches to 5.5 inches. Winds were moderate, peaking at 75 mph at Cape Breton Highlands. Edouard also caused beach erosion on the coast of southeastern Nova Scotia.

Lack of Retirement

Because of minimal effects, the name Edouard was not retired in the Spring of 1997 by the World Meteorological Organization, and was used again in the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season, and is on the list of names to be used for the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

1996 Atlantic hurricane season