The 2004 Atlantic hurricane season was an active North Atlantic tropical cyclone season when 24 named storms formed. The fatality numbers reached 571, the highest since 1999. The tropical cyclones in the season also caused major damages, accounting to $22 billion, the highest since 1992. Sea surface temperatures in 2004 were very high, causing increased activity. During August and September, 26 °C waters reached as far north as Newfoundland and the British Isles.

2004 was known by meteorologists as the 'Cape Verde year', stating that many of the storms in the season formed near Cape Verde. Hurricane Danielle was the most fatal this year, after killing 19 people in Jamaica and then 53 people in Mexico. There were two hurricanes that made landfall on the United States this year, Bonnie and Ivan.

The season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record, until it was taken over by 2005, which received 28 named storms. Nonetheless, 2004 set the record for the most hurricanes and most major hurricanes.

During 2004, the Atlantic Ocean was monitored officially by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), providing six-hourly updates on tropical cyclones.


Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Tropical Storm Alex

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration June 25 – June 27
Peak intensity 70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min)  990 mbar (hPa)

On June 23, the NHC noted an area of small thunderstorms in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and gave it a 20% chance of formation. The thunderstorm activity gradually increased in organisation and was given a high chance at 1800 UTC on June 24. It is estimated that a tropical depression formed on June 25 at 0600 UTC. A Hurricane Hunters aircraft found 50 mph winds near the center of the storm, therefore the NHC upgraded Tropical Depression One to Tropical Storm Alex, the first of the season. Alex attained peak intensity with winds of 70 mph near 0000 UTC on June 26. The NHC estimates that the storm made landfall southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana with winds of 55 mph at about 2230 UTC on June 26. Alex continued inland and dissipated the next day.

Hurricane Bonnie

Category 4 hurricane (SSHWS)
Bonnie 2004 track.png
Duration July 6 – July 22
Peak intensity 145 mph (230 km/h) (1-min)  944 mbar (hPa)

On July 5, a tropical disturbance developed off the west coast of Africa and the NHC gave it a 40% chance of development. Thunderstorm and shower activity increased, and the NHC raised the possibility to 90% on July 6. Later that day, Tropical Depression Two formed. Strengthening continued, and reached tropical storm status at 1200 UTC on July 7. Strong wind shear, at first, prevented strengthening. The shear abated and Bonnie strengthened into a hurricane near 0000 UTC on July 10. While well to the northeast of the Lesser Antilles, the storm strengthened into a major hurricane on July 13. The NHC noted that Bonnie could become a strong Category 4 hurricane. It did so, and reached Category 4 strength at about 0600 UTC on July 14. Fluctuations in intensity occurred throughout the next few days. Bonnie weakened into a Category 2 hurricane late on July 20, but re-strengthened into a major hurricane several hours later. The hurricane weakened slightly before making landfall near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina with winds of 105 mph at about 2310 UTC on July 21. Rapid weakening occurred over land, and Bonnie unexpectedly dissipated late on July 22.

In order, hurricane warnings were issued for Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, South Carolina and North Carolina. Preparations in the United States began on July 17, when the first tropical storm watch was issued for Georgia to North Carolina. Evacuations were made in the Carolina's due to this storm. As the storm made landfall, 12–15 ft storm surge occurred along South and North Carolina coasts.

Tropical Storm Charley

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration July 14 – July 15
Peak intensity 40 mph (65 km/h) (1-min)  1004 mbar (hPa)

On July 14, a tropical depression formed west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands. A few hours later, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Charley. Stronger wind shear prevented further intensification, and Charley weakened into a tropical depression later on July 15. At about 0000 UTC on July 16, Charley weakened into a remnant low.

Storm names

The following names were used for named storms that formed in the Atlantic basin in 2004. The names not retired from this list will be used again in the 2010 season. This is the same list used for the 1998 season except for Gaston and Matthew, which replaced Georges and Mitch. Storms were named Gaston, Matthew, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie and Walter for the first time in 2004. The Greek alphabet was also used for the first time this year.

  • Alex
  • Bonnie
  • Charley
  • Danielle
  • Earl
  • Frances
  • Gaston
  • Hermine
  • Ivan
  • Jean
  • Karl
  • Lisa
  • Matthew
  • Nicole
  • Otto
  • Paula
  • Richard
  • Shary
  • Tomas
  • Virginie
  • Walter

In addition to the naming list above, three Greek alphabet names were used.

  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Gamma


The World Meteorological Organization retired four names in the spring of 2005: Bonnie, Danielle and Gaston, Lisa and Tomas. They were replaced in 2010 by Bea, Daria, Libby and Tobias.