Hurricane Ivan was the ninth named storm, the sixth hurricane, the fourth major hurricane, and the strongest hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. It formed as a Cape Verde-type hurricane in early September. Ivan reached Category 5 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, the highest possible category, becoming the ninth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and the only Category 5 storm of the season.
Ivan caused catastrophic damage to Grenada, which it struck directly at Category 3 intensity, and heavy damage to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and the western tip of Cuba. After peaking in strength, it tracked north-northwest across the Gulf of Mexico to make landfall as a strong Category 3 storm in the U.S. near Gulf Shores, Alabama, causing very heavy damage. Ivan dropped heavy rains on the Southeastern United States as it looped across Florida and back into the Gulf of Mexico. The remnant low from the storm regenerated into a new tropical system, which moved into Louisiana and Texas, causing minimal damage. Ivan caused an estimated $20.5 billion (2004 USD) worth of damage in the United States, making it the second-costliest hurricane to strike the U.S. at the time (currently the tenth-costliest U.S. hurricane).
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The MODIS instrument onboard NASA's Terra satellite captured this true-color image of Tropical Cyclone Gafilo churning in the waters northwest of Madagascar on March 6, 2004. At the time this image was taken, Gafilo has sustained winds of approximately 160 mph. Cyclone warnings had been posted for all of northwestern Madagascar.