September 4, 2004

Hurricane Frances - Fort Pierce, FL

Chase Account by: Scott Blair

Chase Team: Scott Blair, Marcie Martin, Rob Howard
We departed Monroe, LA on the evening of September 1st and arrived along the eastern Florida coast the evening of September 2nd. After scouting areas of possible deployment of two meteorological towers (two meter) and forecasting the landfall of Hurricane Frances, we deployed our first tower on the barrier island near Floridana Beach around 8pm on September 3rd. The second tower was deployed during the early morning hours of the 4th at the Fort Pierce airport.


*** First significant squall approaches the coast near our first tower site. Two 2m towers equipped with numerous meteorological instruments were deployed in the path of Frances. ***


*** I chose to first setup to photograph Frances along the barrier island east of Fort Pierce, FL. By midday, significant waves and gradual storm surge pounded the island. Signs and power lines soon failed across the area. ***



*** Significant damage to structures was observed by early afternoon across the barrier island. Large debris became airborne from failing structures as strong squalls and the western eye wall of Frances entered the area. ***



*** Storm surge rapidly increased along the barrier island by mid-afternoon. With this serious threat and more structures failing, we elected to reposition along the bay in Fort Pierce, FL. ***



*** We returned on the mainland along the bay in Fort Pierce, FL. Winds steadily increased as the western eye wall entered the area. Large waves were noted in the bay as the local marina sustained damage. Last image credit AP ***



*** We returned on Monday, September 6th to retrieve the towers. The intercept was successful and both towers recorded impressive data. The barrier island was actually eroded only 31ft away from the tower site. More information on the findings of these towers will be released at a later date. ***



High-quality images/stills are available and will be posted at a later date.
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