Hurricane Maria was the thirteenth named storm, sixth hurricane, and the fourth major hurricane of the horrific 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, forming on September 1. Maria was also a Cape Verde-type hurricane. Maria traveled to the northwest over the open Atlantic Ocean after forming, strengthening as it did so. Maria reached its peak strength on September 5 east of Bermuda, and then gradually weakened and became extratropical on September 10. Maria did not affect any land areas throughout its lifetime. However, it did manage to bring tropical-storm force wind gusts to Iceland as an extratropical storm. Also, it produced heavy rainfall in Norway, and caused one fatality. The damage the storm caused is not known.

Maria hours after reaching its peak intensity
Formation September 1, 2005
Dissipation September 10, 2005
Highest winds 115 mph
Lowest pressure 962 mbar
Deaths 2 direct (one with Hurricane Nate)
Damages Unknown
Areas affected New Jersey, Iceland, Scotland, Norway

Meteorological History

Maria originated from a tropical wave that exited the coast of Africa on August 27. The wave moved westward into the open Atlantic Ocean, and on September 1, it became Tropical Depression Fourtreen midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles in the open Atlantic Ocean. After becoming a depression, it was slow to develop, due to shear from an upper-level low to the southwest of the system. Because of this upper-level low shearing the system, uncertainty was forecast for the future of the system. Some models predicted that the system would dissipate, while others predicted it would become a hurricane. As the depression moved northwest across the open Atlantic Ocean, it gradually became more organized, and the depression became Tropical Storm Maria on September 2, and Hurricane Maria by September 4, still moving to the northwest. After becoming a hurricane, Maria continued to move northwest, but then began moving more to the north. On September 5, under favorable conditions in the central Atlantic Ocean, Maria breifly attained major hurricane status, becoming a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph maximum sustained winds, while located approximately 480 miles east of Bermuda.

After becoming a major hurricane, Maria weakened to a minimal hurricane on September 7, due to cooler waters and wind shear, as it moved to the northeast. Operationally, the NHC had downgraded Maria further, to a tropical storm, although post-season analysis confirmed that this did not occur with the system. Maria continued to moving to the northeast, and official forecasts now called for the system to weaken slowly. However, interaction with an upper-level trough enabled Maria to regain some of its strength again. Also, it was predicted that Maria would rapidly become extratropical, although Maria held onto its tropical characteristics for 48 hours longer than was predicted. On September 9, Maria weakened to a tropical storm, finally becoming extratropical halfway between the Azores and Newfoundland early on September 10. As an extratropical system, Maria intensified significantly, reaching hurricane strength again on September 11 at about 52°N, and it reached a minimum central pressure of 962 mbar, which was equal to its minimum central pressure at its peak intensity as a major hurricane earlier in its lifetime.

The extratropical remnants of Maria passed just to the south of Iceland on September 13 as a hurricane-strength extratropical storm. However, the center of the extratropical system remained offshore, thankfully. As the system approached Norway on September 14, it merged with another strong extratropical system.


East Coast of the United States

Although Maria's center of circulation stayed well to the east of the East Coast of the United States, it managed to produce rip currents along the East Coast of the United States, caused by Maria's effects, and much closer Hurricane Nate (Nate was near Bermuda at the time). One person was killed, and another seriously injured in New Jersey as a result of the treacherous conditions.


Maria's impacts were felt in parts of Europe, after Maria became an extratropical system on September 10.


In Iceland, Maria's extratropical remnants slammed into the area on September 12, bringing tropical-storm force winds to the area. The strongest winds were recorded in Vestmannaeyjar, where sustained winds reached 67 mph; a minimum central pressure of 979 mbar was also recorded.


Maria's next target was Scotland, where no damage was reported. The impacts are unknown, although they were likely minimal.


Maria merged with another extratropical system on September 14 as it approached Norway. The extratropical storm brought tropical-storm force winds, as well as heavy rainfall to the country of Norway when it slammed ashore. The heavy rainfall caused flooding, as well as mudslides, particularly around Bergen. Also, one person was killed directly, with at least nine others being injured, as well as numerous homes being destroyed. Finally, marine interests were also affected, since a large amount of ferries were docked in the Baltic Sea.

Naming and Records

When Tropical Storm Maria formed on September 2, it was the earliest ever that an Atlantic hurricane season had its 13th named storm. This beat the previous record held by Hurricane Six in the 1933 Atlantic hurricane season. Also, this was the first time that the name Maria had been used to name a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin. However, it was the second occurence worldwide. Due to the lack of any major effects from Maria, the name was not retired by the World Meteorological Organization in the Spring of 2006, thus it is on the list of names to be used for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

2005 Atlantic hurricane season