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Hurricane 97L (Inukjuak)
Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
97L Picture
Hurricane 97L at peak intensity northwest of Split Island on September 23rd.
FormedSeptember 21
DissipatedSeptember 24
Highest winds1-minute sustained:
85 mph (140 km/h)
Lowest pressure976 mbar (hPa); 28.82 inHg
Fatalities0 direct, 3 indirect
Damage$670 million (2024 USD)
Areas affectedNortheastern United States, Eastern Canada (especially Nord-du-Québec)


Hurricane 97L, known in Canada as Hurricane Inukjuak, was the first recorded tropical cyclone in the Hudson Bay. Initially forming early on September 16th as a cold-core low near New England, the system proceeded to move into the Hudson Bay before developing into a subtropical cyclone late on September 21st. The system moved generally east for 3 days, peaking as a Category 1 on the Saffir–Simpson scale (SSHWS) late on September 23rd before making landfall in Nord-du-Québec on September 24th and rapidly weakening inland before dissipating in the Baffin Bay late on September 25th.

The precursor low to 97L caused major flooding in New England and Eastern Canada, with the damage from the flooding ending up at around $670 million (2024 USD), while the system caused 2 indirect deaths due to people drowning in rip currents caused by the low. As a tropical cyclone, the system did minimal damage to land due to making landfall in a sparsely populated area, though one person was swept out to sea and drowned.

Meteorological History

97L

Map plotting the track and the intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

At around 06:00 UTC, a cold-core low formed southeast of New England. The system was designated by the (NHC) as Invest 97L soon after it's formation, though it had a low chance of becoming a tropical cyclone. 97L moved inland near the Canada–United States border in Maine and the NHC then issued it's final outlook on 97L as the system was expected to remain an extratropical cyclone during the rest of it's life (a prediction that would not come to fruition).

97L Picture Super Early

97L as a weak cold-core system southeast of New England.

The system briskly moved into Canada and strengthened to a gale-force low according to the Beaufort scale. After about a day of being inland, the system entered the extreme southern Hudson Bay early on September 18th. The system began to execute a big counter-clockwise across the southern half of the Bay, which it wouldn't complete until near the end of it's duration as a tropical cyclone. The system continued to move fast, and later that day, it briefly strengthened to a hurricane-force extratropical low before weakening from that intensity early the next day. Soon after it lost it's hurricane-force winds, it started to slow down. The system moved erratically throughout the next two days as it did a u-turn, slowly gaining convection, before, late on September 21st, the system transitioned to a subtropical storm, becoming the first tropical or subtropical cyclone ever recorded in the Bay. When it transitioned to a subtropical cyclone, the winds were 45 mph and the pressure was 990 millibars.

97L Picture Early

97L soon after it transitioned to a subtropical storm.

After it's transition to a subtropical storm, forecaster Kiko Snowe of the NHC noted the system was "a phenomenally rare" system and it was dubbed "Subtropical Storm 97L". 97L continued to move south-east slowly, gaining organization and strength until, at midnight on September 3rd, the system transitioned to a fully tropical cyclone, baffling meteorologists all around the world and gaining major news coverage in Canada. The system, soon after becoming fully tropical, strengthened into a hurricane about 63 miles above the Polar Bear Provincial Park, becoming one of the northernmost forming hurricanes worldwide. Around 15 hours later, 97L peaked in intensity as a strong Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale, with winds of 85 mph and a pressure of 976 millibars while located around 80 miles to the northwest of Split Island. The system was able to maintain it's intensity up until landfall near Inukjuak mid-day on September 24th. Soon after landfall, it rapidly turned extratropical and raced into the Baffin Bay around 30 hours after landfall while weakening, with it's winds dropping below gale-force, before being absorbed by another extratropical system, ending 97L's record-breaking life.

Impacts, Records & Naming

Impacts

Perfect Storm Oceanfront flooding

Flooding caused by 97L on the eastern coast of the United States.

In New England, severe flooding occured, dropping 10 to 14 inches of rain, causing flash flooding all across the region, despite little to no warning of such amounts of rain due to the system forming just 24 hours before causing the flooding.

In Southeastern Canada, the system caused major flooding, however, they had more time to prepare and no deaths occurred due to that extra time. However, the system dropped extreme flooding in this region, with some areas receiving more than 24 inches of rain.

In total, the damage the system caused while it was an extratropical low before it became a subtropical and eventually, fully tropical cyclone totaled at around $670 million (2024 USD), while 2 indirect deaths occurred due to due to people drowning in rip currents off the coast of Massachusetts.

Impacts as a tropical cyclone were minimal due to the storm making landfall in a sparsely populated area, although one person was swept out to sea and drowned.

Records

97L was the first tropical or subtropical cyclone in the history of the Hudson Bay and still is the strongest system in the Bay to date. The system was the first fully tropical cyclone to impact the Sanikiluaq municipality of Nunavut as a tropical or subtropical cyclone on record, and the first of it's kind to impact Nunavut as a tropical or subtropical cyclone on record as well.

97L was the second-most northern hurricane worldwide on record, with only Hurricane Faith of 1966 being a hurricane farther north. However, 97L was the northern-most forming tropical or subtropical cyclone on record, forming at 58°N.

Naming

Because of the extremely rare nature of the storm, it wasn't officially assigned a name and is commonly known as, and is called "Hurricane 97L" in the NHC report of the system. However, in Canada, the system is widely known as "Hurricane Inukjuak", named after the village called Inukjuak that was the hardest-hit village from 97L as a tropical system.

See Also

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