Nicholas could have been a hurricane near 1200 UTC 17 October. However, several microwave images made near that time showed that the cyclone was partly sheared, with no evidence of an eye or of well-defined convective bands, and it is estimated that Nicholas did not reach hurricane strength and that the maximum winds were 60 kt.
The remnants of Nicolas became involved in a com- plex weather pattern between 27 October and 1 No- vember, and the exact time of dissipation is uncertain. Operationally, the nontropical low that crossed Florida was occasionally referred to as the remnants of Nicho- las in tropical weather outlooks issued by the National Hurricane Center. Postanalysis suggests, instead, that this system absorbed the remnants of Nicholas.
o. Tropical Storm Odette, 4–7 December
Odette was a rare December tropical storm that made landfall in the Dominican Republic and was re- sponsible for eight deaths. It was the first December tropical storm on record to form in the Caribbean Sea.
As the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season came to a nominal close on 30 November, a stationary front ex- tended across eastern Cuba southwestward into the Ca- ribbean Sea. An area of low pressure developed in the frontal zone on 1 December just north of Panama, where it remained nearly stationary for two days while the front gradually retreated northward and separated from the surface low. During this time, convection in- creased and became organized and, by 3 December, a distinct midlevel circulation had developed about 120 n mi north of the surface center. A weak tropical wave moved into the area and this event coincided with an increase in the overall organization of the system early on 4 December. A tropical depression formed at 1200 UTC that day about 300 n mi south of Kingston, Ja- maica.
The depression strengthened and became a tropical storm at 1800 UTC 4 December about 285 n mi south- southeast of Kingston. Moving east-northeastward, Odette continued to strengthen despite moderate southwesterly shear, and late in the day microwave im- agery indicated a formative eyewall. By 1200 UTC the next day, when the first reconnaissance aircraft reached the system, the convective structure was deteriorating and the central pressure was rising. Odette turned north-northeastward with increased forward speed, and strengthened slightly on 6 December, reaching its peak intensity of 55 kt at 0600 UTC. During the day, the forward speed of the system slowed again although the convection continued to advance northeastward at a more rapid rate; this lack of vertical organization was
typical of Odette throughout its lifetime. Odette weak- ened slightly to 50 kt by the time it made landfall near Cabo Falso on the Barahona peninsula of the Domini- can Republic around 2300 UTC 6 December.
The circulation center became disrupted during its overnight passage across the Dominican Republic, but tropical storm–force winds were maintained in the con- vection east of the center. Odette then accelerated northeastward in advance of an approaching cold front, and became extratropical when the low became embed- ded in the frontal zone near 1800 UTC 7 December. Odette’s extratropical remnant raced northeastward with a distinct circulation for another 2 days within the frontal zone before dissipating after 1800 UTC 9 De- cember.
As noted above, microwave imagery indicated a for- mative eyewall late on 4 December, but this feature weakened by the time the first reconnaissance aircraft reached the cyclone. Scatterometer data are also sug- gestive that Odette may have been stronger than indi- cated in the best track on 4 December, but the data were not consistent from pass to pass and have been largely discounted.
The largest reported rainfall amount was 230 mm at Isla Saona, Dominican Republic. A wind gust to 50 kt was reported from Santo Domingo.
The government of the Dominican Republic attrib- utes eight deaths and 14 injuries directly to Odette, with most of these from mud slides or flash floods. There were also two indirect deaths (due to heart attacks) associated with the cyclone. Press reports indicate that Odette downed trees and power lines, and damaged buildings, bridges, and large areas of agricultural land. Approximately 35% of the banana crop was destroyed. Media reports indicate little apparent impact from the storm in Haiti.
p. Tropical Storm Peter, 7–11 December
The occurrence of Odette and Peter is the first time since 1887 that two tropical storms have formed in De- cember.
A large extratropical storm was centered in the far eastern Atlantic on 5 December. This system cut off from the westerlies and moved southward for two days. By 7 December, convection developed and it is esti- mated that the gale center became a subtropical storm at 1800 UTC 7 December. As the cyclone moved far- ther south over warmer waters, the convection became concentrated near the center and it developed well- defined cyclonically curved bands of convection sug- gesting that the cyclone had acquired tropical charac- teristics. It is estimated that Peter became a tropical