National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

National Weather Service, Mobile-Pensacola


Tropical Storm Lee Drenches the Northern Gulf Coast
September 2011

Tropical Storm Lee began as a deep convective cloud mass associated with a tropical wave in the Caribbean Sea during the last week of August. By Thursday evening (September 1st, 2011), the cloud mass further developed into Tropical Depression #13. By 1pm on that following Friday afternoon, Tropical Storm Lee had formed.

Lee gradually churned northward exceedingly slow towards south central Louisiana coastline by Saturday afternoon (September 3rd), while continuing to produce extremely heavy rainfall over portions of southern Mississippi, southern Alabama and the northwest Florida Panhandle. The outer rainbands of Lee began dumping near continuous heavy rainfall over portions of southern Alabama, southeastern Mississippi and the northwestern Florida Panhandle by early Saturday morning. This rainfall endured through early Sunday before dry air wrapped into Lee’s west side.

The center of Lee moved over land around sunrise Sunday, September 4th. However, it would be a while before Lee would weaken to a depression as it remained nearly stationary while the southern half of the circulation was over water where it could continue to derive additional energy from the warm ocean. The next day, Lee was eventually picked up by an upper level trough, turned northeastward and sped up late in the day on Sunday, September 4th as it began its exit to the northeast (late Sunday through late Monday). Below and to the right is an animation of the 6-hour analyses of the evolution of Tropical Storm Lee from 7pm on September 1st through 1am on September 6th in 2011 (images courtesy of the NWS Weather Prediction Center).

Although the continuous rains became somewhat intermittent as dry air wrapped into Lee from the west, this created a situation from Sunday afternoon through midday Monday whereby individual storms became more intense due to increasing levels of atmospheric instability. Stronger storms and tornadoes plagued the northern Gulf Coast as they formed within the detached outer rainbands (well to the east of Lee’s center) on Sunday and finally to the southeast on Monday.

Lee would give its final blow to our region, literally. While Lee was in the process of being picked up by a fast moving upper level trough, a series of squall lines that produced moderately widespread wind damage and tornadoes along and ahead of the surface cold front, besieged the area through late Monday afternoon.




Lee’s impacts were far reaching across the region. Below are some of the regional impacts...
Jump to - Rainfall, Wind, Tornadoes, Storm Surge, or Additional Information sections.




Lee’s high moisture content and slow speed promoted 24-hour rainfall totals in excess of 5 inches across much of the area. In general 10-15 inches of rain (storm total) fell along coastal sections of Alabama and northwest Florida. Radar estimated 24-hour and storm total rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Lee can be viewed in the animation alongside the storm total rainfall below

        7 day regional observed precipitation valid 9/6/2011

The table below shows the storm total rainfall amounts (greater than 7 inches) across the region starting on September 2nd and ending at 7am on September 6th. There are numerous local reports over 10 inches and even 2 reports in Mobile County that recorded over 12 inches of rainfall during Tropical Storm Lee (in both Mobile and Tillmans Corner).


Storm Total Rainfall (in.)

Mobile 10.2 WSW 12.62 CoCoRaHS
Tillmans Corner 4.3 WNW 12.17 CoCoRaHS
Robertsdale, AL 11.82 NWS COOP
Grand Bay 0.6 NW 11.70 CoCoRaHS
Theodore 3.7 WNW 11.58 CoCoRaHS
Mobile 11.4 WSW 11.30 CoCoRaHS
Mobile, AL, Bates Field 11.30 NWS
Coden, AL 11.25 NWS COOP
Milton 1.4 NNE 11.04 CoCoRaHS
Mobile, AL (KMOB) 10.94 ASOS
Orange Beach 3.0 ENE 10.83 CoCoRaHS
Mobile 5.7 WSW 10.68 CoCoRaHS
Mobile 0.2 N 10.61 CoCoRaHS
Foley 7.4 SW 10.60 CoCoRaHS
Foley 2.0 SSW 10.56 CoCoRaHS
Mobile 7.4 W 10.56 CoCoRaHS
Elberta 3.1 SSW 10.39 CoCoRaHS
Orange Beach 2.1 NE 10.26 CoCoRaHS
Foley 6.2 SW 10.22 CoCoRaHS
Foley 0.5 ESE 10.21 CoCoRaHS
Mobile 2.6 WNW 9.92 CoCoRaHS
Black Creek, MS 9.88 River Gage
Wilmer 7.9 SE 9.54 CoCoRaHS
Orange Beach 1.3 E 9.50 CoCoRaHS
Wiggins 5.8 E 9.34 CoCoRaHS
Mobile 1.2 WSW 9.18 CoCoRaHS
Wiggins 5.5 ENE 9.17 CoCoRaHS
Perkinston 1.7 NE 9.00 CoCoRaHS
Mobile 4.7 W 8.99 CoCoRaHS
Mobile 1.8 W 8.91 CoCoRaHS
Crestview 2.8 NNW 8.82 CoCoRaHS
Whiting Field, FL (KNSE) 8.72 ASOS
Point Clear 1.6 SSW 8.71 CoCoRaHS
Mobile 5.1 S 8.49 CoCoRaHS
Milligan, FL 8.47 River Gage
Mobile 4.4 WNW 8.42 CoCoRaHS
Theodore 6.7 SSE 8.42 CoCoRaHS
Loxley 0.4 SSW 8.23 CoCoRaHS
Saraland 1.4 E 8.19 CoCoRaHS
Grand Bay 3.1 NNE 8.15 CoCoRaHS
Theodore 8.0 SSE 8.08 CoCoRaHS
Fairhope 0.9 N 7.99 CoCoRaHS
Wiggins, MS 7.93 NWS COOP
Navarre 2.1 WNW 7.91 CoCoRaHS
Crestview 2.5 SSW 7.91 CoCoRaHS
Navarre 2.3 NNW 7.86 CoCoRaHS
Leakesville, MS 3NW 7.84 River Gage
Milton 10.9 SSW 7.82 CoCoRaHS
Milton, FL 7.77 River Gage
Niceville 4.5 SE 7.75 CoCoRaHS
Fairhope 1.5 WSW 7.73 CoCoRaHS
Fairhope 2.3 E 7.72 CoCoRaHS
Fairhope 2.3 N 7.59 CoCoRaHS
Melvin, AL 7.40 River Gage
Lucedale 13.1 SE 7.38 CoCoRaHS
Fairhope 3.1 NNW 7.29 CoCoRaHS
Niceville 5.6 SE 7.26 CoCoRaHS
Waynesboro, MS 7.24 NWS COOP
Pensacola 4.8 N 7.18 CoCoRaHS
Gulf Breeze 7.9 ENE 7.18 CoCoRaHS
Dauphin Island, AL 7.17 NWS COOP
Fairhope, AL 7.13 NWS COOP
West Pensacola 10.9 SW 7.12 CoCoRaHS
Niceville 3.4 ESE 7.11 CoCoRaHS
Fairhope 3.7 NNW 7.05 CoCoRaHS



Lee caused significant, yet localized wind damage across Mobile and Baldwin Counties in southwest Alabama. Numerous houses sustained minor to major wind damage along with downed trees throughout the area. Strong winds resulted in blowing sand from the beaches onto the streets across many of the coastal communities.

A consolidated list of peak wind gusts (10 meter) and 2-minute sustained winds from September 5th are listed below. The data are presented in descending order according to the peak wind gust. If data are missing, they are not currently available.

Peak Wind Gust (mph) and Direction
Time (CST)
Sustained Wind (mph) and Direction
Time (CST)
Hurlburt Field, FL at runway 36 /FMQ-19 65 1031    
AL DOT I-10 Bayway Exit 30 65 0725    
Duke Field, FL (KEGI) ASOS 63 1424    
Dauphin Island,AL C-MAN (DPIA1) 63 from 180° 0928 40 from 170° 0854
Pensacola ,FL Regional (KPNS) ASOS 59 from 200° 1047 43 from 190° 1047
Destin, FL (KDTS) ASOS 59 from 200° 1136 32 from 180° 1216
Mobile, AL Brookley Field, (KBFM) ASOS 55 from 320° 1542 41 from 320° 1543
Ensley, FL - Trained storm spotter 55 1201    
Hurlburt Field, FL (KHRT) ASOS 55 1033    
Brent, FL - Trained storm spotter 53 1149    
NAS Pensacola, FL (KNPA) ASOS 53 from 210° 1140 37 from 200° 1256
Mobile, AL Regional (KMOB) ASOS 48 from 200° 0703 35 from 200° 0701
Crestview Sikes,FL (KCEW) ASOS 46 from 200° 1349 31 from 190° 1349
Dauphin Island (USA Mesonet) 44 from 200° 0816 48 from 190° 0813
Fairhope, AL (USA Mesonet) 36 from 330° 1658 37 from 320° 1657
Jay, FL (USA Mesonet) 36 from 190° 1317 49 from 185° 1316
Elberta, AL (USA Mesonet) 33 from 170° 0529 39 from 180° 1021
Grand Bay, AL (USA Mesonet) 32 from 190° 0744 37 from 130° 1712
Walnut Hill, FL (USA Mesonet) 32 from 175° 1311 42 from 170° 1309
Andalusia, AL (USA Mesonet) 30 from 210° 1213 37 from 200° 1127
Loxley, AL (USA Mesonet) 31 from 170° 1312 38 from 170° 1319



Tropical Storm Lee produced several weak tornadoes across the entire region resulting in modest structural and tree damage. The 24 hour storm reports from September 2nd through 5th can be viewed in the animation to the right (imagery courtesy NWS Storm Prediction Center). Tornado reports are in red, while damaging severe thunderstorm wind reports are in blue in the animation.

The individual tornado paths associated with Tropical Storm Lee from September 2nd through 6th are plotted in our local Tornado Museum webpage.

Composite of known tornadoes associated with Tropical Storm Lee


There was moderate beach erosion due to the storm surge in Tropical Storm Lee. Coastal flooding was exacerbated by higher tide levels, which created poor to no drainage of local rivers, bays and sounds. The highest total tide levels (storm surge + tide) ranged from 3.5-5 feet.

Area tide gauge observations versus astronomical tidal predictions (referenced to MLLW, mean lower low water) can be viewed in the animation below. The animation starts with locations furthest to the west and progresses to the east.


Additional Information

NHC Advisory Archive

WPC Archive

NHC Tropical Cyclone Report - Tropical Storm Lee

NWS Local Write-Ups and Webpages:
     NWS Jackson, MS
     NWS Birmingham
     NWS Huntsville
     NWS Peachtree City, GA
     NWS State College, PA


Acknowledgements: Page created by Jeff Medlin (Meteorologist In Charge), Ray Ball (Information Technology Officer), Jeff Garmon (previous Warning Coordination Meteorologist), Jason Beaman (Warning Coordination Meteorologist), Gene Jacobi (Observing Program Leader), John Werner (Senior Meteorologist), Joe Maniscalco (Forecaster), and Kirk Caceres (previous Forecaster). Page updated by Morgan Barry (Forecaster).

LAST UPDATED: November 2016