Nine years ago, Hurricane Jeanne gave Florida one last smack

Squalls from Hurricane Jeanne throw water and seaweed from Lake Tohopekaliga through the air in Kissimmee. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda, Orlando Sentinel)

The blue tarps were already out in force after Florida had been smacked around by Hurricane Charley, Frances and Ivan, but the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season had one last sucker punch for the Sunshine State -- Jeanne.

Nine years ago just before midnight on a Saturday, Hurricane Jeanne made landfall near West Palm Beach as a Category 3 storm with winds near 120 mph. The landfall was only 2 miles from where Hurricane Frances had made landfall just three weeks earlier.

And Jeanne's path and size through the state were eerily similar to Frances, slogging its way up through Central Florida and up into the Panhandle.


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The storm was also a tricky storm for those wary hurricane watchers. Jeanne had already struck Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and it was deadly even as a weaker storm killing more than 3,000 in Haiti alone. Jeanne then looked to be headed out to the Atlantic and weakening.

Then the storm gained strength, while looping around in a big circle and came across the Bahamas and right into South Florida.

Jeanne ended up being the deadliest storm of 2004, with the thousands in the Caribbean along with three deaths in Florida as well as $6.8 billion in damage in the U.S., making it the 13th costliest hurricane in U.S. history to date.

There was still another two months of hurricane season to make it through, and Floridians were still paying close attention as the season's last gasp -- Tropical Storm Otto -- decided to meander around the Atlantic even past the official Nov. 30 end of the Atlantic Hurricane season.

But Hurricane Jeanne ended up being the last of Florida's hurricane season of pain, a season that changed the way Floridians look at hurricanes.