r "'/ FLORIDA HURRICANES
c AND TROPICAL STORMS
1871-1993: An Historical Survey
Fred Doehring, Iver W. Duedall, and John M. Williams
Florida Sea Grant College Program
Florida Sea Grant College is supported by award of the Office of
Sea Grant, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S.
Department of Commerce, grant number NA 36RG-0070, under
provisions of the National Sea Grant College and Programs Act of
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Cover photo: Hank Brandli & Rob Downey
I I I-- I I I
and Tropical Storms
An Historical Survey
Fred Doehring, Iver W. Duedall, and John M. Williams
Division of Marine and Environmental Systems,
Florida Institute of Technology
Melbourne, FL 32901
Technical Paper 71
Copies may be obtained from:
Florida Sea Grant College Program
University of Florida
P.O. Box 110409
Gainesville, FL 32611-0409
Our friend and colleague, Fred Doehring pictured below, died
on January 5, 1993, before this manuscript was completed.
Until his death, Fred had spent the last 18 months painstakingly
researching data for this book. Fred had a genuine interest in Florida
Tech, and in helping students find information on weather.
We thoroughly enjoyed working with Fred and we are hopeful
that this book will enhance hurricane awareness for all Florida resi-
We dedicate this book to his family.
ver W. Duedl
The hurricane as a heat engine, is inefficient, hard to start, and hard
to sustain; but once set in motion, once mature, is an awesome natu-
From birth, the hurricane lives in an environment that constantly tries
to kill it...... and ultimately succeeds
Dr. Robert C. Sheets
National Hurricane Center
Table of Contents
List of Tables, Figures, and Plates . . . ..... vii
Tables ................... ................ .vii
Figures . . . . . . .. ... vii
Plates ........ ......................... ix
Preface ......... .......................... xi
Chapter 1 .............. .. ............... 1
Introduction .............................. 1
Chapter 2 .. . . . . . . . .. 5
Historical Discussion of Florida Hurricanes . . . 5
The Early Years, 1871-1900 .................... 6
The Second Thirty Years, 1901-1930 . . .. 10
The Third Thirty Years, 1931-1960 . . ..... 18
The Last Thirty-two Years, 1961-1993 . . ... 26
Chapter 3 ................ ............ .... 39
Hurricane Andrew ............................ 39
On Sabbatical with Hurricane Andrew . . ... 41
Chapter 4 .................. ............ .. 45
Andrew Epilogue ............ ............. .... 45
The 1993 Hurricane Season ................... 46
References ................. ............... 47
Tables, Figures and Plates ........................ 51
Glossary ................................. 109
Hurricane Preparedness ........................ 111
Be Prepared Before the Hurricane Season ......... 111
When a Hurricane Watch is Issued . . ..... 111
When a Hurricane Warning is issued ............. 112
Evacuation ............................. 112
Index of Named Hurricanes ................... ... 115
Subject Index ............................... 116
Citation Index .................... .......... 118
About the Authors . . . ...... inside back cover
List of Tables, Figures, and Plates
Tables ................................ 53-67
Table 1. Saffir-Simpson Scale
Table 2. Number of Hurricanes, Tropical Storms and Combined
Total Storms by 10-Year Increments
Table 3. Hurricane Classification Prior to 1972
Table 4. Florida Hurricanes 1871-1993
Figures ................................. 68-95
Figure 1. Home in Coconut Grove, Miami, September 1926,
Hurricane (Courtesy of National Hurricane Center).
Figure 2. Meyer-Kiser Building, N.E. 1st Street, Miami, Septem-
ber 1926 Hurricane; the building had to be torn down
(Courtesy of National Hurricane Center).
Figure 3. Sunken boat, Miami, September 1926 Hurricane; the
boat was once owned by Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany
(Courtesy of National Hurricane Center).
Figure 4. Damage in Palm Beach, 1928 Hurricane (Courtesy of
National Hurricane Center).
Figure 5. Destruction in West Palm Beach, 1928 Hurricane (Cour-
tesy of National Hurricane Center).
Figure 6. Train blown off track, 1935 Great Labor Day Hurri-
cane, in Islamorada, Florida Keys. (From News/Sun-
Figure 7a. Monument to 1935 Hurricane, Islamorada, Florida
Figure 7b. Inscription plaque commemorating those who died in the
Figure 8. Hurricane Donna. Even though Hurricane Donna did
not strike Miami, this photograph shows typical damage
along the Dade County shoreline (Courtesy of National
Figure 9. Radar of Hurricane Donna (Courtesy of National
Figure 10. Track and time of Hurricane Cleo in 1964 (from Dunn
and Staff, 1967).
Figure 11. 27th Street, Miami, Hurricane Betsy in 1965 (Courtesy
of Miami Herald).
Figure 12. Record of barometric pressure, Hurricane Betsy in
1965 (Courtesy of National Hurricane Center).
Figure 13. Hurricane David in 1979 in Caribbean Courtesy of
Figure 14a. Hurricane David in 1979 in Florida (Courtesy of Henry
Figure 14b. Hurricane David, track (From collection belonging to
Figure 15. Hurricane Elena (1985) damage (From Clark, 1986a).
Figure 16a. Hurricane Juan (1985) damage (From Clark, 1986a).
Figure 16b. Hurricane Juan (1985) damage (From Clark, 1986a).
Figure 16c. Hurricane Juan (1985) damage (From Clark, 1986a).
Figure 17a. Hurricane Kate (1985) damage (From Clark, 1986b).
Figure 17b. Hurricane Kate (1985) damage (From Clark, 1986b).
Figure 18. Doppler Radar Image of Hurricane Andrew, 1992.
(Courtesy of National Weather Service, Melbourne,
Figure 19. Business sign along US 1 in Homestead, Florida.
Figure 20a. Last Chance Saloon, which survived several
hurricanes such as Donna, Cleo, Betsy, Inez and An-
drew, located on US 1 near Homestead, Florida.
Figure 20b. Trees blown down just south of the Last Chance Sa-
loon. Before Andrew, area around the saloon was
Figure 21. Typical debris scene from Andrew (U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, 1993).
Figure 22. Family home damage from Andrew (U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers, 1993).
Figure 23. The mobile home and the hurricane (U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers, 1993).
Figure 24. The roof and the hurricane (U.S. Army Corps of
Figure 25. One of the 39 debris burning sites (U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, 1993).
Plates .............. ........ ........ 96-108
Hurricane and Tropical Storm Tracks by 10-year periods
Plate 1. 1871-1880
Plate 2. 1881-1890
Plate 3. 1891-1900
Plate 4. 1901-1910
Plate 5. 1911-1920
Plate 6. 1921-1930
Plate 7. 1931-1940
Plate 8. 1941-1950
Plate 9. 1951-1960
Plate 10. 1961-1970
Plate 11. 1971-1980
Plate 12. 1981-1990
Plate 13. 1991-1993
This book presents, by historical periods, a summary of the
hurricanes and tropical storms that struck Florida's more than 1200-
mile long coastline during the 122 years from 1871 through 1993.
Prior to the publication of this book, the onl\ books or reports
exclusively with Florida hurricanes were R.W. Gray's report, revised
by Grady Norton in 1949, titled Florida Hurricanes, and a survey by
Gordon E. Dunn and staff of the National Hurricane Center (NHC)
also titled Florida Hurricanes.
Grady Norton and Gordon Dunn were important figures during
the early creation of what is now known as the National Hurricane
Center. Grady Norton was considered by many as one of the best
hurricane forecasters. After Grady Norton's death in 1954, Gordon
Dunn was named director of the NHC. After Gordon Dunn retired,
Dr. Robert Simpson became NHC Director. He was followed by Dr.
Neil Frank. The current NHC Director is Dr. Robert C. Sheets.
In addition to the report Florida Hurricanes, the very recent
1992 NHC report titled The Deadliest. Costliest, and Most Intense
United States Hurricanes of this Century provides invaluable informa-
tion on both historical and recent hurricanes affecting Florida and the
Our primary goal in preparing this book was to update the
historical work as it pertains to Florida, to consolidate and standard-
ize technical terms published at the beginning of each hurricane
season on hurricane tracking maps, and to introduce the following
new material pertaining to Florida: (1) a detailed historical discus-
sion, (2) a chronological listing of all Florida hurricanes, (3) 13
plates of hurricane and tropical storm tracks grouped into 10-year
increments, and (4) a table showing the number of tropical storms
and hurricanes by 10-year increments. The book is written on a
non-technical level for the general reader who is interested in know-
ing when and where hurricanes affected Florida and the magnitude of
damage inflicted by the storms. Those wishing more technical infor-
mation on hurricanes can consult the references or contact the NHC
Principal reference documents used in preparing this book, in
addition to the ones mentioned above, came from the National Oce-
anic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) publication,
Historical Climatology Series 6-2. Tropical Cyclones of the North
Atlantic Ocean, 1871-1986, and U.S. Weather Bureau publications,
Climatological Data for Florida 1897-1965.
It should be noted that this book deals primarily with the charac-
teristics of Florida Hurricanes and some eyewitness accounts.
Amounts of precipitation associated with Florida hurricanes were not
discussed in this book because of their frequent occurrence resulting
from other systems such as tropical depressions or non-tropical sys-
tems. However, we should point out that precipitation from a hurri-
cane can be very great and can cause major damage and flooding.
While tropical depressions can cause heavy flooding problems
and damage, rainfall from tropical depressions is not discussed.
Also, tropical waves and depressions are not named either.
We should mention that some of the direct quotes we use make
reference to the earlier used term "Great Hurricane" and "Major
Hurricane". The reader is referred to the glossary and tables for a
detailed explanation of all terms, including the Saffir-Simpson Scale
now in use to categorize hurricanes. In some instances, we have
made inserts, indicated by [...], into quotations to provide clarifica-
tion. The [...] notation was also used to provide an estimate of the
damage in dollars, adjusted to 1990.
We are especially thankful to the reviewers of the original
manuscript who pointed out several deficiencies and errors in the first
writing and who provided important suggestions leading to an
improved and accurate final manuscript and to friends, colleagues,
assistants, and organizations whose help we could not have done
without. Specifically, we thank Bill Mahan who encouraged us to
prepare this book, Annette Bernard, Ann Bergonzoni, Derrick
Doehring, Rosary Pedreira, Arnold Samreth, and Huan Feng for
manuscript preparation, to Henry (Hank) Brandli for graciously
providing us with his satellite images of Florida Hurricanes, to Rob
Downey for the color photograph of Hurricane Andrew, to Anita
Bromberg and John Reposa who assisted in the preparation of the
plates showing the hurricane tracks, Victoria (Tori) Smith and Jea-
nette C. Sparks of the Florida Tech Evans Library for searching
historical documents, to the Melbourne Office of the National
Weather Service for providing the Doppler radar image of Hurricane
Andrew, to Florida Sea Grant College who provided financial assis-
tance to complete this work and to Jay Humphreys who read the
manuscript and provided suggestions for improvement and to Susan
Grantham for the layout and design, to the News/Sun Sentinel, Ft.
Lauderdale, and the Miami Herald, Miami, for the use of their
photographs, to Ms. Ruth Warner for kindly providing us with her
grandmother's account of the 1926 Miami hurricane, to Lois
Stephens for allowing us to use her personal account of Hurricane
Andrew entitled "On Sabbatical with Hurricane Andrew", and to the
National Hurricane Center for providing photographs.
A hurricane is an extremely violent whirling and spiraling tropical
cyclone, shaped somewhat like a funnel, that frequently originates in
tropical regions of the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea. Gulf of
Mexico and eastern North Pacific Ocean. The term cyclone, used by
weathermen and meteorologists, refers to an area of low pressure in
which winds move around the pressure center and are usually
attended by foul weather and strong wind speeds. A tropical cyclone
is a nonfrontal, warm-core, low pressure synoptic scale storm that
develops over tropical or subtropical waters and has a definite orga-
Tropical Cyclones are called typhoons in the western North Pa-
cific Ocean, hurricanes in the eastern north Pacific, baguios in the
South China Sea, cyclones in the Indian Ocean, and willy-willies in
The size of a typical hurricane can vary considerably depending
on the extent of the tropical storm's wind fields and rain fields. In a
relatively large hurricane, such as the Florida hurricane of September
1947, hurricane force winds can extend 100 miles from the center
(i.e. a distance from Palm Beach to Melbourne). However, in Au-
gust 1992 Hurricane Andrew, the most destructive hurricane ever to
strike Florida, or the U.S. mainland for that matter, had maximum
winds with a radius of only about 12.5 miles. Thus hurricanes vary
considerably in their size.
To be classified officially as a hurricane, wind speed in a tropical
cyclone must be 74 miles per hour or greater. The direction of
rotation of wind in a hurricane is counterclockwise in the northern
hemisphere, and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. The average
hurricane's center, referred to as the eye, is about 14 miles in diam-
eter. The eye is surrounded by hurricane force winds, and is known
as the wall cloud, or eye wall. Outside the wall cloud, or area of
maximum winds, winds decrease fairly rapidly to tropical storm or
Within the hurricane, barometric pressure is 1-3 inches of mer-
cury below the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level which is
29.92 inches of mercury.
The North Atlantic hurricane season occurs during the months of
June through November, with September generally having the largest
number. The total number of hurricanes or tropical storms show
great variation from year to year. In fact, certain past multi-decade
periods had significantly greater numbers of hurricanes than others.
This is supported by the recent study of William M. Gray in 1990
who reported that the period from the late 1940s through the late
1960s had a much larger number of hurricanes (i.e. a strong cycle)
than during the 1970s and 1980s, except for 1988 and 1989 (i.e. a
Quoting a passage from Gray's 1990 article entitled Strong Asso-
ciation Between West African Rainfall and U.S. Landfall of Intense
Seasonal and muli-decadal variations of intense hurricane
activity are closely linked to seasonal and multi-decadal variations of
summer rainfall amounts in the Western Sahel region of West Africa.
In general, the annual frequency of intense Atlantic hurricanes
was appreciably greater from 1947 to 1969, when plentiful amounts
of rainfall occurred in West Africa, than during the years between
1970 to 1987, when drought conditions prevailed.
The average forward movement of a hurricane approaching the
Florida coastline is about 6-15 miles per hour. The direction of
hurricane movement relative to the coastline has a large bearing on
added destructive forces, with the perpendicular landfall of a hurri-
cane being the most dangerous situation. This is because the wind
field in a hurricane is typically asymmetric with the strongest wind
generally within the right-front quadrant of the storm as viewed from
the direction of movement and with the forward speed added to the
wind speed. The right-front quadrant is the side of the wind field
which produces the strongest storm surge, which, in most cases, is
the most destructive part of the hurricane.
A storm surge, also called a hurricane surge, is the abnormal rise
in sea level accompanying a hurricane or any other intense storm.
The height of the storm surge is the difference between the observed
level of the sea surface and the level in the absence of the storm.
The storm surge is estimated by subtracting the normal or astronomi-
cal tide from the observed or estimated storm tide. Surge heights
vary considerably and result from a combination of direct winds and
atmospheric pressure. Water transport by waves and swells, rainfall,
and shoreline configuration, bottom topography, and tide heights at
the time the storm or hurricane hits the coast are also factors. As an
example of an extreme storm surge, Hurricane Donna which struck
the Florida Keys in 1960, caused a surge of an estimated 12 to 14
feet, which is very significant considering the fact that there are few
structures and little terrain that high in the Keys. A more cata-
strophic surge was the 24.4 foot surge which resulted from Hurricane
Camille which struck the Mississippi coastline in 1969. The poten-
tially devastating effects of the storm surge are further illustrated if
one considers that a cubic yard of seawater weighs nearly three-
fourths of a ton which pretty well guarantees destruction of anything
in its path.
The storm surge has a tendency to dissipate the farther inland it
goes, particularly if the land rises in elevation. However, winds and
some degree of flooding are still remaining problems. High winds,
the storm surge, battering waves, and high tide make a hurricane a
potentially deadly killer with accompanying devastation and huge
losses to property. In addition, tornadoes can be spawned by
hurricanes, adding to the overall threat.
Torrential rainfall, which can also occur in a hurricane, adds to
life-threatening and major damaging effects of a hurricane by causing
floods and flash floods. For example, the aftermath of Hurricane
Agnes, which was a relatively weak Florida hurricane, but well
known as one of the costliest hurricanes in the mid-Atlantic states,
resulted in severe inland flooding from torrential rainfall from its
merging with another weather system in mountainous areas. In this
case the hurricane surge had little part in the destruction that re-
High winds alone can lead to a barrage of flying debris, including
tree limbs and branches, signs and sign posts, roofing (including
entire roofs in major storms), and metal siding, all of which can
move through the air like missiles.
Except when crossing completely flat, wet areas, such as extreme
south Florida, hurricanes usually weaken rapidly as they move in-
land. However, the remnants of a hurricane can bring 6 to 12 inches
of rain or more to an area as the storm passes. Should a weakened
hurricane on land return to the sea, it can regain strength.
It is clear then that entire communities, including residential and
business buildings, can be wiped out by a hurricane.
Because of the difficulty in relating the different and varying
factors or characteristics of a hurricane to the destruction, the Saffir-
Simpson Scale was conceived in 1972 and introduced to the public in
1975 (Simpson and Riehl, 1981). This scale, named in behalf of
Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson. has been used for 20 years to
estimate the relative damage potential of a hurricane due to wind and
storm surge. The Saffir-Simpson Scale categorizes a hurricane as
being either a one, two, three, four or five, depending upon the
barometric pressure, the wind speed, and the storm surge (Table 1).
A Category I hurricane would inflict minimal damage, for example,
primarily to shrubbery, trees, foliage, unanchored structures, small
cralt. and low lying areas which could become flooded. A Category
5 hurricane would cause catastrophic damage such as blown down
trees and power lines and poles, overturned vehicles, torn down or
blown away buildings, complete destruction of mobile or manufac-
tured homes and in certain instances entire mobile home parks, and
massive flooding. For the first time after Hurricane Andrew, the
Fujita Tornado Scale was used to assess damage. Dr. Theodore Fujita
is an expert on tornadoes and severe weather. Fl to F5 indicates
winds from 73 MPH to over 261 MPH.
The practical usefulness of the Saffir/Simpson Scale is that it
relates properties of the hurricane to previously observed damage.
Historically and before the Saffir/Simpson Scale was developed,
hurricanes were referred to as either Great Hurricanes, or Minimal,
Major, or Extreme Hurricanes; because these terms are no longer
used, the reader is referred to the glossary for an explanation of the
these historical terms and to Tables 1 and 3. Tropical storms are
named but are not assigned a Saffir/Simpson category number.
Historical Discussion of
While Florida is often considered synonymous with sunshine and
is frequently called the Sunshine State, mention of the state also
brings to mind summer or fall tropical storms and hurricanes. These
hurricanes move in a west to northwest direction through the
Caribbean and Atlantic toward Florida's coast. From the year 1493
to 1870, the Caribbean area and Florida experienced nearly 400
hurricanes as reported by Professor E.B. Garriot in 1900 in his
classic study West Indian Hurricanes. Many Spanish galleons loaded
with gold, silver and other treasure must have met a swift and un-
timely demise at the hand of a hurricane or tropical storm. As a
result, today treasure hunting is an active and frequently profitable
business in Florida.
In recent times, from 1871-1993, nearly 1000 tropical cyclones
of tropical storm or hurricane intensity have occurred in the North
Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Of this total, about
180 have reached Florida, with 75 of these known to have hurricane
force winds (wind speed > 74 mph) and 105 with tropical storm
force winds (39 mph 73 mph).
During the early 15-year period from 1871 to 1885, there were
30 tropical cyclones of unknown intensity (shown by the solid line on
Plates 1 and 2). Historical data indicate that some of these were
hurricanes. Because these hurricanes have not been officially
documented, they are listed as total combined storms for the purposes
of overall count of Florida hurricanes (Table 2).
In the last 122-year period, there were as many as 21 (in 1933)
hurricanes and tropical storms during an individual year, and there
were 28 years during which no tropical cyclones made landfall or
their center passed immediately offshore of the Florida coastline
(Fernandina Beach to Key West to Pensacola).
While early records are fragmentary and incomplete, the
following is a discussion of the more formidable Florida hurricanes.
For convenience and to provide readable hurricane tracks, the
discussion examines hurricanes occurring within 30-year periods,
divided into 10-year sections. When possible the Saffir/Simpson
Scale (Table 1) describes the hurricane category for both past
hurricanes (before the scale was developed), and recent hurricanes.
The Early Years, 1871-1900 1
Starting in 1871, only a few years after the Civil War, tropical
cyclone data became part of the historical inventory of the U.S.
Signal Service and later the U.S. Department of Agriculture Weather
Bureau which collected, archived and published these data. Relying
on early works of authors, such as West Indian.Hurricanes (Garriott,
1900), annual tropical cyclone tracks for the years 1871-1990 were
later published in the NOAA Historical Climatology Series 6-2,
Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic, 1871-1986. The yearly
tracks were extracted from that NOAA publication and are presented
here by 10-year periods.
Looking at the first 10 years of tropical cyclone tracks (Plate 1),
the most striking feature is that only four tropical cyclones entered
Florida's coast from the east, southeast, Atlantic, or Caribbean. In
contrast, 17 tropical cyclones entered the west coast and panhandle
region from the southwest, the northwestern Caribbean and Gulf of
The periods from 1881-1890 (Plate 2) and 1891-1900 (Plate 3)
show essentially the same pattern except that the concentration of
northeasterly tracks shifts further to the south.
We shall see from an examination of the other plates that this
pattern changed after the turn of the century. Principally all of the
storms which entered the West Coast of Florida came from the north-
western Caribbean or the southern portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
No real explanation can be found for this high frequency.
There are some contradictory events reported during these early
years which deserve discussing. They pertain to the hurricanes of
1876, 1880, and 1885. In an interview published June 4, 1978, in
the Florida Today newspaper, the then National Hurricane Center
Director Dr. Neil Frank said:
In [August] 1871 the center of a hurricane slammed into Central
Florida near Cocoa Beach.... In [September/October] 1873 a major
Hurricane exited Florida near Melbourne. ....In [August/September]
1880 another major hurricane battered the coast south of Cocoa Beach.
In reference to the 1880 hurricane thai "bartered the coast south
of Cocoa Beach", this hurricane was classified in Richard W. Gray's
Florida Hurricanes (Revised Edition) as a Great Hurricane.
According to his notes, it affected the Palm Beach-Lake Okeechobee
section of Florida; nothing is said about Cocoa Beach, but Dunn and
Miller in their book Atlantic Hurricanes published in 1964 said that
the hurricane affected Vero Beach. However, the 1880 track as
extracted from NOAA's (1987) Historical Climatology Series 6-2,
shows a hurricane entering the East Coast near Cocoa Beach. The
area affected by this hurricane could not have been the Palm Beach-
Lake Okeechobee section if the hurricane entered the Florida east
coast from the east-south-east near Cocoa Beach. If, on the other
hand, R. Gray is correct in his finding, then the 1880 hurricane track
reported by NOAA has to be a considerable distance south of Cocoa
Beach; this contention is amply supported by the hurricane track of
August 26-31, 1880, reported by Garriott in 1900 in his book West
Indian Hurricanes and by the August 1880 track published by Tanne-
hill in 1938 in his book.
In reference to the August 1885 hurricane, the track published by
NOAA (1987) along the east coast may also be in error in that the
published track is at least 20 miles offshore. According to B. Ra-
bac's (1986) book The City of Cocoa Beach:
The hurricane that hit in 1885 discouraged further settlement.
The storm pushed the ocean waves over the barrier island (elevation
10 feet), flooding out the homesteaders. The beach near the Canav-
eral Light House was severely eroded, prompting President
Cleveland and the Congress to allot money for an effort to move the
tower one mile west.
The fact that President Cleveland was in office from 1885-1888
provides further support that this was the year of occurrence. It is
certainly possible that the 1885 northerly tropical cyclone track
shown over the ocean along the Florida East Coast on the NOAA
(1987) track chart was slightly displaced (from the correct position),
and that the eye of the hurricane actually passed Cocoa Beach. In
fact the report by Sugg, Pardue and Carrodus in 1971 shows the
1885 track passed the central East Coast.
The final controversy concerns the hurricane of 1876. Historical
information from G.W. Holmes in a letter to a friend in 1876 indi-
cates that the eye of a terrible hurricane passed over Eau Gallie (now
part of Melbourne) on the Indian River on a northerly course during
the early morning (no date or month was given) of 1876. Dr.
Holmes is quoted as follows:
The wind came from the east at over a hundred miles an hour
until about 3:30 AM. The vortex [the eye] came on us for about
four hours, during which not a leaf stirred. We began to look for
our boats when all at once with a tremendous roar the wind came
from the west, with equal violence in the early part of the night.
The quotation implies that the hurricane traveled north along the
Indian River or beaches. NOAA (1987) shows a northerly hurricane
track for the year 1876, about 30-40 miles east of the coast passing
Cape Canaveral during September 12-19, 1876. The 1876 hurricane
could easily have been off by 30 miles which brings the eye over
Melbourne, and makes the effect which Mr. Holmes quotes very
valid. In October 12-22, another hurricane exited near West Palm
Beach from the west. However, until hurricane tracks for 1876,
1880 and 1885 are officially modified by NOAA, they have to be ac-
cepted as given from NOAA's track book and shown in Plate 1.
Beginning with the year 1886, tropical storm and hurricane
tracks were published separately. In this report, they are presented
by dashed and solid lines with the year circled at the beginning of
each track (Plates 2 and 3). A solid line prior to 1886 indicates
either a tropical storm or hurricane. From 1886 on, a solid line
crossing the coast indicates a hurricane, and a dashed line indicates a
tropical storm. Beginning with the year 1899, tracks became more
detailed and categories were used to describe the relative magnitude
We conclude this section with quotations about two hurricanes
which entered Florida in 1898 and 1899.
Hurricane of October 2-3, 1898, Fernandina Beach
The damage to Fernandina and vicinity was very great. It is
conservatively estimated at $500,000. Nothing escaped damage and
a great deal was absolutely destroyed. Giant oaks were snapped off
at the base, houses blown down, and vessels swept inland by an
irresistible in-rush of water. The wind signal display man Major
W.B.C. Duryee, who has resided in Fernandina more than thirty
years, states that no previous storm was so severe (U.S. Weather
Bureau, October 1898).
In 1898, Professor F.H. Bigelow provided this rather elegant
description of a hurricane, published in the Yearbook of the Depart-
ment of Agriculture for 1898.
The physical features of hurricanes are well understood. The
approach of a hurricane is usually indicated by a long swell on the
ocean, propagated to great distances and forewarning the observer
by two or three days. A faint rise in the barometer occurred
before the gradual fall, which becomes very pronounced at the
center; fine wisps of cirrus clouds are seen, which surround the
center to a distance of 200 miles: the air is calm and sultry, but
this is gradually supplanted by a gentle breeze, and later the wind
increases to a gale, the clouds become matted, the sea rough, rain
falls, and the winds are gusty and dangerous as the vortex core
comes on. Here is the indescribable tempest, dealing destruction,
impressing the imagination with its wild exhibition of the forces
of nature, the flashes of lightning, the torrents of rain, the cooler
air, all the elements in an uproar, which indicate the close ap-
proach of the center. In the midst of this turmoil there is a sud-
den pause, the winds almost cease, the sky clears, the waves,
however, rage in the great turbulence. This is the eye of the
storm, the core of the vortex, and it is, perhaps, 20 miles in
diameter, or one-thirtieth of the whole hurricane. The respite is
brief and is soon followed by the abrupt renewal of the violent
wind and rain, but now coming from the opposite direction, and
the storm passes off with the features following each other in the
reverse order. There is probably no feature of nature more inter-
esting to study than a hurricane, though feelings of the observer
may sometimes be diverted by thoughts of personal safety!
Hurricane of August 1, 1899, Carrabelle
After reaching the coast and maintaining very high velocities
from the northeast backing to the North and West for 10 hours, the
storm gradually abated leaving the town of Carrabelle a wreck.
The results to shipping were disastrous, 14 Barks (transport sail
boats) and 40 vessels under 20 tons having been wrecked. The loss
of life was amazingly small, the total being only six. The property
loss, including vessels and cargo will amount to $500,000 (U.S.
Weather Bureau, 1899).
The Second Thirty Years, 1901-19302
This thirty-year period had less tropical storm and hurricane
activity than the preceding (1871-1900) period or the following thirty-
year period (1931-1960). From 1901 to 1930, there was a combined
total of 39 tropical storms and hurricanes as compared to 63 during
the previous 30 years (1871-1900) and 51 for the following thirty
years (1931-1960). Storms during this period came primarily from
U.S. Weather Bureau records (1901-1930) show that there were
22 hurricanes during this period; specific hurricanes are listed in
Table 4. With the availability of more factual data published in the
Climatological Data bulletin since 1897, information now becomes
more accurate and detailed, consisting of actual reports for those
Looking at the first 10-year segment (1901-1910), the Great
Hurricane of October 1910 did a loop north of the western tip of
Cuba (Gray, 1949), passed through Key West and entered the coast
near Ft Myers, where a low pressure of 28.20 inches of mercury was
reported. This was probably one of the most destructive hurricanes
to hit Florida.
At Key West, there was a 15 foot storm tide and Sand Key re-
ported 125 mile per hour winds. The U.S. Army and Marine
Hospital Docks were swept away at Key West in this hurricane, but
little other narrative information is available on this storm except that
2 Plates 4-6.
it made landfall near Cape Romano.
Actually, Key West, which is touted in stories and movies as a
typical hurricane setting, is not all that hurricane-prone. The last
encounter was 1987's Hurricane Floyd, about noon on the 12th of
October. Highest winds were about 80 miles per hour and pressure
was about 29.32 inches. Floyd's eye was reported at Key West,
Marathon and Islamorada and was a weak category one storm.
Before Floyd, it had been 21 years, all the way back to Hurricane
Inez, since a hurricane had struck the Keys. In 1965, Hurricane
Betsy sideswiped the "Conch Capital" as did Isbell, in 1964. These
storms followed a 14-year lull during which the Keys were untouched
by hurricanes. In 1950, Easy struck the Keys bringing to an end the
area's 28 years of calm going back to 1919.
From 1871 to 1987, Key West was hit by 14 hurricanes or about
10% of the storms discussed here.
Other hurricanes during the 1901-1910 period were the hurricane
of September 1906 which practically destroyed Pensacola and the
hurricane of 1909. These two storms have good documentation
which is worth further discussion.
Hurricane of September 19-29, 1906, Mobile-Pensacola Area
According to the 1906 U.S. Weather Bureau report this was a
This was the most terrific storm in the history of Pensacola, or
since the Village of Pensacola on Santa Rosa Island was swept away
170 years ago .... During the height of the storm, the water rose 8
'/2 feet above normal high water mark, being the highest known.
The entire water front property was inundated; train service in and
out of the city was completely paralysed ... Muskogee Wharf,
belonging to the L&N Railroad Co., was broken in two in the
middle, and the tracks on either side of the Main Creek were
washed away [including thirty-eight coal cars] ...The greatest havoc
was wrought along east Main Street, the south side of which has
been completely washed away. The total damage from this
hurricane will be three to four million dollars (equivalent to $80-
100 million in 1990).
This hurricane made actual landfall in Alabama but affected
Pensacola; because of this storm 164 people lost their lives.
Other storm notes by the U.S. Weather Bureau for the hurricane
of September 1906 are from St. Andrews, Washington County.
On the 26th, a tidal wave swept this place; the water was
higher than an% lime during the past 19 years, and every wharf in
St. Andrews was completely destroyed.
A report from Apalachicola, Franklin County:
On the 27th, the wind blew a gale from the southeast, and on
the 28th, it increased to a hurricane velocity. The amount of rain-
fall was 10.12 inches.
And from Gait, Santa Rosa County:
The storm of the 26-28th was the worst ever known in this
section; on the 26th, the tide rose 14 feet. Two lives were lost
Hurricane of October 6-13, 1909, Sand Key
Tannehill (1938) provides the following discussion of the October
1909 hurricane that struck Sand Key and resulted in 15 deaths:
The hurricane of October 1909, was one of exceptional inten-
sity. It recurved over the extreme southern tip of Florida, at which
time it had attained tremendous force.
The Weather Bureau had a station at Sand Key, Florida which
was abandoned at 8:30 a.m., and supplies and instruments were
carried to the lighthouse. The wind was then 75 miles an hour;
shortly thereafter, the anemometer cups were carried away and the
wind was estimated at 100 miles an hour. All the trees were blown
down and at 9:35 a.m. heavy seas swept over the island. At 10:30
a.m., the Weather Bureau building went over and was swept out to
sea. The lowest barometer reading was 28.36 inches. At Key
West the barometer fell to 28.50 inches and the extreme wind
velocity was 94 miles. Property damage there amounted to
$1,000,000 [equivalent to $20 million in 1990]. About four
hundred buildings collapsed.
During the second 10-year segment (1911-1920), there were four
hurricanes including one Great hurricane which deserves mentioning.
Three of these, all with winds over 100 miles per hour, affected the
Pensacola area again like the hurricane of September 1906.
The Hurricane of July 1916, Mobile-Pensacola Area
The U.S. Weather Bureau (July 1916) reported that:
.... at 1 PM, a 92 mile per hour gale occurred with
severe puffs from the southeast. The duration of the gale was
extraordinary, and the total damage to the crops and the property
will easily total $1,000,000 [equivalent to $20 million in 1990] for
This hurricane made landfall in Mississippi where four lives were
The Hurricane of October 1916, Pensacola
The barometric pressure in this storm was 28.76 inches at Pensa-
The wind instrument tower at the Weather Bureau Office blew
down at 10:14 AM, after registering an extreme rate of 120 miles
per hour at 10:13' AM. Oak trees that withstood the July storm
were uprooted; about 200 trees throughout the city were blown
down (U.S. Weather Bureau, October 1916).
The Hurricane of September 1917, Pensacola-Valparaiso Area
This was a very severe storm, doing much damage on the coast
and to crops. The lowest barometer reading, 28.51 inches, was a
record for the Pensacola Station. The highest wind velocity during
the storm was 103 miles an hour with an extreme rate of 125 miles
an hour from the southeast (U.S. Weather Bureau, September
The Great Hurricane of September, 1919, Key West
The following citation for the Great Hurricane of September
1919 was taken from NOAA (1987).
The storm that passed over Key West on September 9 and 10
was, without question, the most violent of any recorded at this
station. Property loss is estimated at 2 million (equivalent to 40
million dollars in 1990). In the terrific gusts that prevailed during
the height of the storm, staunch brick structures had walls blown
out, and large vessels which had been firmly secured, were torn
from their moorings and blown on the banks (U.S. Weather Bureau,
Lowest barometric pressure was 27.51 inches of mercury at Dry
Tortugas with 300 lives lost in Key West where winds were 110
miles per hour. According to a recent NOAA report by Hebert,
Jarrell, and Mayfield (1992) this storm ranked third among the most
intense hurricanes to strike the United States this century until hurri-
cane Andrew took over that ranking in August of 1992.
During the last ten years of the period from 1901-1930, there
were six interesting hurricanes, including two Great Hurricanes
which could be considered equivalent to category 4 hurricanes, ac-
cording to the Saffir-Simpson Scale; some descriptions of these
storms are briefly either quoted or described here.
The Hurricane of October 20, 1921, Tarpon Springs
Great damage resulted at Tampa and adjacent sections from the
combined effects of high winds and storm tides. The tide at Tampa
was 10.5 feet, the highest since 1848. Eggmond and Sanibel Island
were practically covered by water (U.S. Weather Bureau, October
Barometric pressure was 28.17 inches at Tarpon Springs and
winds were more than 100 miles per hour.
Only one hurricane and one tropical storm were recorded for
Florida in 1925. The storm that came ashore near Tampa on Novem-
ber 30 was significant from a statistical standpoint-it was the latest
any storm had hit the U.S. during hurricane season.
The Hurricane of July 26-28, 1926 Indian River
The Center was near Palm Beach on the morning of the 27th,
then north-northwestward. The high winds and seas sweeping
before them boats, docks, boat houses and other marine property on
the ocean front as well as that on the Indian River. Trees were
uprooted, including citrus trees; houses were unroofed or otherwise
damaged. The observer at Merritt Island remarks that there was a
tremendous wave (this on the Indian River) and with the high wind
all boats, docks, and other property from the river front were swept
ashore ... (U.S. Weather Bureau, July 1926).
The Great Miami Hurricane of September 11-27, 19263
From the viewpoint of property loss, low barometric pressure,
and maximum wind velocities at Miami, the hurricane of Septem-
ber, 1926, stands unchallenged in the meteorological records of the
Weather Bureau, save only in respect to the loss of life at Galveston
during the hurricane of 1900. The storm waters of the Atlantic
united with the waters of Biscayne Bay and swept westward into
the City of Miami......This was the most severe storm that ever
visited this city. The extreme velocity was registered at 7:26 AM.
The average velocity for the 20th was 76.2 miles an hour. Never
before have hurricane winds been recorded for so long a time and
never has the wind maintained a velocity of 100 miles for more than
a hour (U.S. Weather Bureau, September 1926).
Winds and barometric pressure of this storm were 138 miles per
hour and 27.61 inches of mercury, respectively.
The following excerpts are from copies of letters kindly donated
See Figures 1-3.
by Mrs. Ruth Warner of Barefoot Bay, Florida, documenting her
Grandmother's experience in the 1926 Miami Hurricane; her Grand-
mother was Mrs. Lucia Lawrence and the following are taken from
her letters written in September and October 2, 1926.
The weather bureau broadcasted that a hurricane of great inten-
sity was headed for the east coast, but that around Jupiter would be
the center of the storm, but Miami got it.
About midnight, the wind was blowing a gale and the electric
lights went out; everything in darkness.
When we got candles lighted, [we] found the water pouring
through the ceilings on the rear half of the house so we knew the
roofing was off
With da) light Saturday came a lull in the wind for about 45
minutes. A good many [people] didn't know it was the center of
the storm and so were fooled. Mrs. Moran (a friend at who's
house they were staying) says the worst is yet to come but it will
come from another direction. Sure enough the puffs soon began
coming, but from the south east. Before that it was from the north
We all huddled in the dining room and kitchen until it was
over, expecting every moment to feel and see the house going to
pieces, at least, the front caving in as it rocked and swayed as the
We nailed the doors, watched as the screens and awnings go. Said
we had done all we could do and left the rest with God.
The fury of the storm was terrible. It made such a peculiar
muffled roaring sound in the air above. There are about 18,000
homes, either completely demolished or roofs torn off. About
5,000 injured and a good many more dead than the papers give, I
believe. Probably a good many from the boats will never be found.
It's some mess to have all ones bedding blankets, clothing and
bureau contents soaked at the same time.
The Hurricane of August 7-8, 1928, Indian River
Damage to property was heaviest from South Brevard to St.
Lucie Counties... substantial houses were unroofed and frail ones
were razed. Highways were flooded and badly washed. Many
bridges were undermined requiring replacement. Many citrus trees
were uprooted, the loss of fruit estimated at 1,000,000 boxes.
Large oaks, sentinels of a century, were uprooted (U.S. Weather
The Deadly Great Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of
September 6-20, 19284
This category 4 storm tracked across Lake Okeechobee's north-
ern shore, causing the shallow waters to reach heights of more than
15 feet. This surge was forced southward, causing terrible flooding
in the lowlands at the lake's south end. This area was farmed pri-
marily by migrant workers. Thousands of migrant farmers died as
water rushed over the area. After the storm, the Red Cross counted
1,836 dead, but still more bodies and skeletons were discovered in
later years. The barometric pressure was measured at 27.43 inches.
To prevent future similar disasters, dikes were built around the lake
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The 1928 storm caused $25
million (equivalent to $300 million in 1990 dollars) in damage.
From the Hebert et al. (1992) report this hurricane ranked second
among the deadliest hurricanes to strike the U.S., and was ranked
fourth among the most intense hurricanes to strike the U.S. But this
storm falls to fifth place, as far as intensity, after Hurricane Andrew,
which struck south Florida in August 1992 with a low barometric
pressure of 27.23 inches.
The Hurricane of September 28, 1929, Key Largo
Tannehill (1938) provides the following account of this hurricane
striking the Keys.
The center passed over Key Largo on the 28th, barometer
about 28 inches and wind estimated at 150 miles an hour. There
was a ten-minute lull as the center passed. At Long Key the ba-
rometer was 28.18 inches. At the Everglades, the wind was esti-
4See Figures 4-5.
mated at 100 miles an hour, barometer 28.95 inches. The storm
reached Panama City on the 30th, barometer 28.80 inches.
Although there was enormous damage at Nassau in the Baha-
mas and many lives were lost there, its course in Florida was such
that damage probably did not exceed $500,000 ($6 million in 1990
dollars) and only three lives were lost. The population had been
thoroughly warned by the Weather Bureau and there had been
ample time for all possible precautions.
The Third Thirty Years, 1931-19605
This thirty-year period had more storm activity than the previous
thirty-year period (i.e., 51 total storms compared to 39). There were
21 hurricanes, almost the same as reported for the previous period.
However, tropical storms numbered 30 as compared to 17 for the
previous thirty years, which accounts for the high number of total
The temporal distribution of hurricanes from 1931-1960 is inter-
esting. While there were few hurricanes from 1931-40 (six) and
1951-1960 (three), there were 12 hurricanes for the 10-year period
1941-1950 alone. This made the 1941-1950 segment the most de-
structive and costliest period to that date in terms of equivalent dollar
value since records were kept for the state. Yet ten years later, in
1960, one single hurricane, Donna, a Category 4, was even more
costly and destructive than all the storms occurring in the total 10
year period from 1941-1950 (Hebert et al., 1992).
Looking at the first 10 years (1931-1940), out of a total of 6
hurricanes, there were two Category 3 storms and one Category 5
hurricane in 1935 which was one of the only two Category 5 hurri-
canes to ever hit the U.S. coast with that intensity the other was
Hurricane Camille which struck Mississippi in 1969. Hurricane
Allen, which struck Texas in 1980, reached Category 5 intensity
three times during its path but weakened to Category 3 at landfall
(Hebert et al., 1992).
SSee Plates 7-9.
The Major Hurricane of September 1933, Jupiter
In July and September 1933, two hurricanes entered the east
coast of Florida within a short distance of each other. The second of
these two, which occurred on Labor Day, deserves review.
There was much property damage on the east coast from Vero
Beach to Palm Beach; a few houses were totally demolished, quite a
number blown off their blocks. More than the equivalent of 4
million boxes of citrus were blown from the trees statewide. The
property loss in Indian River, St. Lucie, and Palm Beach Counties
probably was about 2 million dollars ($25 million in 1990) (U.S.
Weather Bureau, September 1933).
In addition to the above report, an elderly citizen from Ft. Pierce
recalls that the 1933 storm was the most devastating in the history of
Ft. Pierce (Yanaros, 1986).
In 1935, two hurricanes visited southern Florida. The first was
the Great Labor Day Hurricane of September 1935 and the other was
the October 30th through November 8th, storm called the Yankee
Hurricane because it came in from a northeasterly course and struck
the extreme south Florida coast and the west coast.
The Great Labor Day Hurricane was the most violent in the
history of Florida and the United States. It was the only Category 5
storm ever to strike Florida; its central barometric pressure of 26.35
inches of mercury was the lowest ever recorded at that time in the
western hemisphere. (As of 1988, Hurricane Gilbert, which did not
affect Florida, has the record 26.22 inches of mercury for the lowest
barometric pressure in the western hemisphere).
The following excerpts from the 1935 storm are quoted from Mr.
Gray's 1949 paper entitled Florida Hurricanes.
No anemometer reading of the wind was obtained, but the
gradient formula gives 200-250 miles per hour and the engineer's
estimate by stress formula is in substantial agreement ... the path of
destruction was less than 40 miles in width. More than 400 people
were killed, most by drowning. The tracks of the Flagler Railroad
were washed from the Long Key viaduct at an elevation of 30 feet
above mean low water. A survey by the U.S. Engineers some time
after the storm indicated that the tide level never reached the rails
there, but the hurricane surge superimposed on the tide probably
assisted in carrying the tracks away.
(Maximum storm surge with Hurricane Camille was 24.2 feet).
In 1938 Tannehill described a tragic event of the storm.
A rescue train that "as sent to remove World War I veterans
and residents from the Florida Keys, on September 2, 1935, was
swept from the tracks by the hurricane and the storm wave. 6
The following 10-Year period, 1941-1950, was the most devastat-
ing in Florida's history since records were kept. Out of 12 hurri-
canes, 11 of these took place between 1944 and 1950. In this rela-
tively short period there was one category 4 in 1947, and six cate-
gory 3 hurricanes, one each in 1944, 1945, 1948, 1949, and two in
1950; a Category 1 storm struck Ft. Myers on the west coast in
1946. All are discussed here.
The following is a quotation describing the 1944 storm, taken
from U.S. Weather Bureau in their report of October 1944.
Dangerous winds extended fully 200 miles to the right or east
of the center, about 100 miles to the left or west, thus affecting the
entire peninsula of Florida. [Even at Dry Tortugas, barometric
pressure was 28.02 inches of mercury.] Winds of hurricane force
velocity surrounded the central core, with gusts up to 100 mph at
Tampa and Orlando. Tides were high from Sarasota southward on
the Gulf and from Melbourne northward on the Atlantic, Naples,
and Jacksonville Beach both reported 12 foot tides. Citrus loss was
over 21 million boxes (average harvest was 80 million). Throughout
the state there was damage to telephone, telegraph and power lines,
trees, roofs, chimneys, signs, and radio towers. Of the interior
cities, Orlando seems to have suffered the most damage, being
estimated at over one million dollars.
The next hurricane of importance entered the coast in September
1945 at Homestead, curving northward right up through the center of
6See Figures 6 and 7.
Florida. During the course of the storm, it decreased in windspeed,
but maintained itself as one with minimal hurricane force. It also
remained over land to exit near Jacksonville Beach. The tragic event
with this storm was the destruction at Richmond, Florida, of the three
Navy blimp hangars which were used as evacuation shelters for 25
Navy blimps, 183 military planes, 153 civilian planes and 150
automobiles. The three great hangars were torn to pieces at the
height of the storm, and then caught fire and burned with all their
contents; the total loss was estimated at 35 million dollars (U.S.
Weather Bureau, September 1945).
Then came the Category 4 hurricane of September 17, 1947,
clocking the highest recorded windspeed, except for Hurricane An-
drew in 1992, in Florida's history with a 1-minute maximum wind-
speed of 155 miles per hour, recorded from a reliable instrument at
the Hillsboro (Pompano Beach) light station. The following describes
this exceptionally strong hurricane (U.S. Weather Bureau, September
Hurricane force winds were experienced along the Florida East
Coast from about Cape Canaveral to Carysfort Reef Light (south of
Miami), a distance of about 240 miles, while winds of 100 miles
per hour, or over, were felt from the northern portion of Miami to
well north of Palm Beach, or about 70 miles. This classifies this
hurricane as one of the great storms of recent years.
This September 1947 storm had a barometric pressure of 27.97
inches of mercury at Hillsboro, with tides at Clewiston and Moore
Haven of 21.6 feet and 20.9 feet, respectively. This storm was nearly
as bad as the 1928 hurricane at the lake. Fifty-one people died.
During October 9-16, a hurricane came across western Cuba into
southwest Florida, northeast into the Atlantic around Palm Beach. It
was a Category 1 and was seeded for the first time. It split in two in
the Atlantic and the worst part hit Savannah, Georgia.
Two hurricanes occurred in 1948. The first one ran from 18
September to 25 September and was classified as a Category 3. The
system started just west of Jamaica and moved west to northwest then
north over western Cuba into the Florida Straits. It struck Florida
near Everglades City in the 10,000 islands, then moved northeast
through Florida to emerge into the Atlantic near Jupiter. A tornado
was reported in Homestead on the 21st of September. Lowest baro-
metric pressure was 28.44 inches, and top winds were 122 miles per
hour. The hurricane killed 3 people and caused 105 million dollars
The second 1948 storm ran from the 3rd to the 15th of October
and started just off the Nicaraguan/Honduras coast in the northwest
Caribbean Sea. This hurricane also moved across western Cuba into
the Florida Straits and even crossed the September hurricane's path
near the coordinates 24.ON and 82.0W. This storm passed through
the Keys and extreme south Florida into Grand Bahama Island. At
about 31N latitude it did a gigantic loop in the middle of the Atlantic
and finally became a non-tropical cyclone. A tornado was reported
in Fort Lauderdale on the 5th of October. Lowest barometric pres-
sure was 28.92 inches, and top winds were around 90 miles per hour.
In August 1949, another major hurricane, taking a course similar
to the Great Hurricane of September 1928 entered the coast near
Palm Beach. It was the worst hurricane felt in the Lake Okeechobee
area since 1928. Hurricane force winds were reported at St. Augus-
tine, Cape Canaveral, and Melbourne, and winds of 120 miles per
hour or greater were felt from Stuart to Pompano. The highest re-
corded wind speed gust, 153 miles per hour, was at Jupiter, only 2
miles per hour less than the wind speed record set on September 27,
1947. The amount of damage in dollars, 45 million (equivalent to
$270 million in 1990), was almost twice that of the 1928 hurricane.
The storm was not classified as being among the Great Hurricanes in
Florida's history, but it fell into the category of only being slightly
below them (U.S. Weather Bureau, August 1949). Tides were 24
feet and 23 feet at Belle Glade and Okeechobee, respectively.
Finally, here are some brief quotations, taken from the U.S.
Weather Bureau reports, 1950, for the last two major hurricanes of
the 1941-1950 decade; during this period the storms were named
using World War II phonetic alphabet: Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog,
Hurricane Easy, September 1950, Cedar Key
Old residents say this was the worst hurricane in 70 years...
half of the houses were severely damaged or destroyed... The fish-
ing fleet upon which the town depends for a livelihood, was com-
pletely destroyed by wind and waves... The tide in Tampa Bay rose
6.5 feet., the highest since 1921.
This hurricane looped twice on the west coast, had top winds of
125 miles per hour and a barometric pressure of 28.30 inches, caused
38.7 inches of rain at Yankeetown in the September 5-6 period, and
brought unfounded accusations of seeding by the Weather Bureau
from residents of the area.
Hurricane King, October 1950, Miami
The path of principal destruction was only 7-10 miles wide
through the greater Miami area and northward to West Fort Lauder-
dale on the 17 of October. It was at first reported that the damage
was the result of a tornado or tornadoes.... after careful inspection
there was no evidence of tornado action ... It was simply that of a
small violent hurricane.
Gusts were 150 miles per hour at Miami and 138 miles per hour at
Ft. Lauderdale. Barometric pressure fell to 28.20 inches and tides
were 19.3 feet at Clewiston. Three people died during this storm.
Following is a personal eyewitness report on Hurricane King de-
scribed by one of the authors (J.M. Williams).
To begin, this storm, Hurricane King, formed down in the
northwest Caribbean not too far from Swan Island. It curved its
way northward to clip the west tip of Jamaica. From there King
traveled almost due north across Cuba to slam into Florida close to
Miami and made passage through western Ft Lauderdale. I was
home on leave from Army duty on the 17th of October, 1950,
visiting my folks who lived in Country Club Estates, which is now
Plantation. This was my first hurricane on land-I had been in one
on a ship at sea coming back from Occupation Duty in Europe. In
the afternoon of the 17th, rain was coming intermittently in sheets
and the wind was gusting pretty high. Then, as if nothing was
going on, it would calm down and the sun would come out. We
were from Iowa where when it looked stormy, you were going to
get it! That, I found out didn't mean anything down here in Flor-
ida. My mother had two cats who were progressively getting noisy
and mean. We found out later that they were affected by the baro-
metric pressure drop as the storm approached. By the time the
storm hit they were climbing the walls! The house was CBS block
construction so we felt okay because shutters had been installed
some years ago. On the front porch were aluminum jalousies.
The main part of King hit us in the late evening and it was
really something, to me at least! The street in front of the house
was gravel back then and the winds picked the rock up and blasted
the front of the house! The noise on those aluminum jalousies was
so bad we couldn't hear each other talk. There was a lot of lighten-
ing in the storm and we could see out through the shutters. News-
papers were flying all over the place. The only trouble however, the
ne spapers were not newspapers but were tiles off the roof.
We went outside during the eye and I found out what every-
body had always said about the eye: we could see stars, the moon,
and a few clouds, and we could feel a slight breeze. We detected a
smell, some said was ozone. But ozone is odorless! Nevertheless
we experienced the Hurricane Eye Smell.
The famous backside of the hurricane came right away, like
now, and we rode out the remainder of the storm like we did the
first part. Now the wind came from the other direction and it loos-
ened up everything.
After the passage of Hurricane King we took a long look at the
damage. Out of six fruit trees, only one was still standing. About
half of the roof tiles were lost and would need to be replaced. The
aluminum jalousies were dented and stripped of all paint. Debris
could be seen all over the place. As the area was wooded in that
period of time, trees were down here and there. A big tree, about
two feet in diameter took down the power and telephone lines. I
had returned to Fort Benning by the time power had been restored.
We heard that a tornado was running around in the eye of King and
wiped out a trailer park in the town of Dania, south of us. Some
people were killed due to King.
The last 10-year period, 1951-1960, of the 1931-1960 thirty-year
segment was marked by a sharp reduction in major hurricane activity;
it was during this period when the Weather Bureau began giving
hurricanes female names in 1953.
In October 1951, Hurricane How, as a tropical storm, crossed
mid-Florida. In 1952, a tropical storm crossed south Florida in
February. In 1953, tropical storm Alice struck northwest Florida in
June. Another tropical storm crossed south Florida in August. Yet
another tropical storm crossed north Florida in September and Hurri-
cane Florence hit northwest Florida also in September. Tropical
storm Hazel crossed mid-Florida in October to finish out 1953.
In 1956, Hurricane Flossy struck northwest Florida in Septem-
ber. In 1957 two tropical storms hit the same region, one was un-
named and one was named Debbie. In October 1959 two more tropi-
cal storms came ashore in Florida-Irene into northwest Florida, and
Judith crossing mid-Florida. None of these were of major conse-
Hurricane Donna stole the show in 1960, while Brenda, as barely
a tropical storm, crossed north Florida in September, and Florence
also a very weak storm, crossed south and central Florida a week
Hurricane Donna ranked fifth, prior to Hurricane Andrew in
1992, among the most intense hurricanes ever to strike the U.S. this
century (Hebert et al., 1992). Except for the western Panhandle,
where Flossy with a barometric pressure of 28.93 inches affected
Pensacola in 1956 with gusts at 98 miles per hour, Donna was the
first hurricane to have a major affect on Florida since Hurricane King
Hurricane Donna caused $300 million ($1.9 billion, 1990 dollars)
in damages to the state and was one of the most destructive hurri-
canes to affect Florida in modem times (Dunn and Miller, 1964;
Hebert et al., 1992), although Hurricane Andrew in 1992 will replace
Donna as Florida's most damaging storm.
At Conch Key, pressure was 27.46 inches on the 10th of Septem-
ber, 1960, and tides were 13 feet 40 miles northeast and 20 miles
southwest. Donna was at her peak here, moving only 8 miles per
hour. The storm killed three people in the Keys. Top winds of 180-
200 miles per hour were recorded in the Keys, with gusts to 150
miles per hour at Everglades City and Naples. In central Florida, the
pressure was 28.60 inches at Lakeland, 28.66 inches at Orlando, and
28.73 inches at Daytona. Barometric pressure was 28.05 inches at
Ft. Myers. Fifty people died when a U.S. airliner crashed off
Dakar, Africa, at the beginning of the storm.
Following are some quotations from the U.S. Weather Bureau
records, (September 1960) about this hurricane.
Storm damages range from very severe in the Middle Keys and
the southwest coast from Everglades City to Punta Gorda, to rela-
tively minor in northwest Florida and points north of the storm
track. At Naples tides pushed inland to the center of the city damag-
ing buildings and smashing docks all along the intrusion. Everglades
City, a town that had been largely evacuated was also inundated by
storm tides and about 50% of the buildings in that city were de-
stroyed by tides and winds. Even well outside these areas, the wind
toppled thousands of trees. demolished many weaker buildings,
blew off or damaged roofs, and shattered many windows. Power
and communication facilities fell throughout central and south
Florida. Grapefruit losses were between 25 and 35% of the state's
crop. Gusts of 99 miles per hour recorded at the FAA tower in
Daytona Beach marked Donna's exit from Florida, having retained
hurricane status throughout its entire passage in Florida.7
Donna inflicted major ecological damage. Dunn and Miller in
1964 reported that one of the world's largest stand of mangrove trees
was 50% wiped out in many areas and that 35 to 40% of the white
heron population was killed.
In Everglades National Park, a monument on the road to Fla-
mingo reminds visitors today about Hurricane Donna.
The Last Thirty Two Years, 1961-19938
There were 27 storms during this 32-year segment. Comparing
these figures with the 21 hurricanes and 30 tropical storms for the
previous 30 years, one can easily see the overall reduction in both
hurricanes and tropical storms (Table 4). In the 1961-1992 period, 6
hurricanes (category 3 or higher), Betsy, Eloise, Elena, David, Inez,
and Andrew, occurred as compared to 11 from 1931-1960. Hurri-
canes Inez and Kate did strike Florida but were categories 1 and 2
storms then. Inez and David were Category 4 storms in the Carib-
bean. Hurricanes Juan and Elena, in 1985, affected northwest Flor-
ida without a strike.
During the first 10-year period, 1961-1970, seven hurri-
See Figures 8 and 9.
8 See Plates 10-13.
canes-Cleo, Dora, Isbell, Betsy, Inez, Alma, and Gladys-hit Flor-
ida, a sharp increase over the previous 10-year period, 1951-1960.
While there were no storms from 1961-1963, 3 hurricanes struck
Florida in 1964 alone, making this year the costliest ($350 million
and more, which is equivalent to $1.75 billion dollars in 1990) so far
in Florida's history
In 1962, Alma as a tropical depression passed Florida's east coast
on 26 August. In 1965, a tropical storm crossed northwest Florida
on 15 June from the Pacific.
In late August 1964, Hurricane Cleo was the first hurricane to
strike the Miami area since Hurricane King in 1950. Cleo moved up
the peninsula about 20 miles inland paralleling the east coast. It pro-
duced 138 mile per hour gusts at Bahia Mar Marina, Ft. Lauderdale,
and knee-deep water was observed in some locations. Due to its
small size, Cleo soon weakened to below hurricane strength around
the Fellsmere-Melbourne area, yet the total storm damage was esti-
mated at $125 million ($600 million in 1990 dollars). Cleo sailed
through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina to break into
the Atlantic on the 1st of September. She regained hurricane status
on the 2nd, but died in the north Atlantic near Nova Scotia on the 5th
According to the U.S. Weather Bureau report of August 1964,
principal losses caused by Hurricane Cleo were from glass and water
damage in the Miami Beach area, and agricultural losses in the Indian
River citrus belt.
Author John M. Williams provides the following personal ac-
count of Cleo whose path was tracked semi-hourly through southeast
Florida (Figure 10), in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
Cleo was the worst in the southeast coastal area. Cleo was of
Cape Verde vintage and traveled through the Atlantic and the
Caribbean as a "textbook" storm. Between Jamaica and Haiti,
however, she turned northward into the Guantanamo Naval Base in
Cuba causing considerable damage there and in Cuba. Passing
across Cuba brought the usual decrease in strength, but once into
the Florida Straits she regained her hurricane status. The following
is my eye-witness report on the passage of Cleo in western Ft
There were winds and rain all day of the 26th August. Some
gusts were in the 60 miles per hour category. It seems that I had
the only ladder in the neighborhood and since the people there knew
I was in the weather business, a line of them formed as I was fin-
ishing the preparations on my house. I didn't see the ladder again
until after the storm had passed, but I heard it got as far as two
I knew the storm was going to hit this area after dark so we
decided to have supper and get all the other amenities out of the
wa) We put all the kids to bed early but that didn't last for long,
after all, it was their first hurricane! It was lucky that we toweled
up all the doors and had the shutters on the windows because at the
height of the storm we had water coming in the front door and
through some of the windows-we had glass jalousies throughout
It peaked late in the evening just before the eye passage with
gusts to 130 miles per hour at my location and there was consider-
able lightning, along with that tremendous roar. You could see
almost like daylight through the shutters.
My children will never forget the 'little leaf, obviously shel-
tered by the house, hopping across the yard, in the opposite direc-
tion from the wind.
About ten minutes before the eye, a Florida room aluminum
shutter, about 3 by 8 feet, ripped off the house next to mine. It
slammed into the corner of my house and ricocheted out into my
front yard. I had a small palm tree out there which was bending
over from the winds and the shutter managed to wedge itself be-
tween the tree and the ground.
The eye passage lasted one hour and twelve minutes at my
I opened the door at that time to a rush of water about two
inches deep. While the wife mopped that up, I stepped off the
porch into nearly knee-deep water and waded to the palm tree. As
hard as I tried, I couldn't free the shutter from the tree.
I could see the stars in a beautiful sky about me and there was
that unmistakable stillness and smell that only happens in the eye of
The guy across the street yelled over to me that he had lost all
the glass jalousies from his Florida room and had to move inside
the house. He had only taped his windows!
I tugged again and again at the tree and big shutter but to no
avail. I couldn't move it. I checked around the house and every-
thing seemed all right or passable. But now it was time to get back
in the house because the backside of a hurricane comes on like
Since the wind comes from the opposite direction and right
now, it is there before you know it! And it came! The palm tree
straightened up and the big shutter came loose and was last seen, in
lightning flashes, heading north, up over the house across the street!
We never saw it again. The back side of the storm was drier than
the front but not by much.
Since the house leaked (all houses leak in a storm like Cleo),
we had a lot of mopping to do. The pea-rock on the flat roof of the
garage was all gone and there was a dent in the decklid of the car
parked in the carport; something was flying around loose. When
the water subsided, it left a mass of debris all over the place and
power was off in some parts of town for five days. Our power
came on again by late afternoon of the 27th of August one day after
the storm passed by. There was widespread damage throughout the
area but only occasional catastrophic type.
In a few days, we had the place almost cleaned up; I had my
ladder back and the kids still wanted to know what happened to the
'little leaf. For a period after the storm when I mowed the lawn,
the clippings were a combination of grass and pea-rock shrapnel.
In September 1964, just a few weeks after Hurricane Cleo,
Hurricane Dora struck the Florida coast at a near 90 degree angle
from the east at St Augustine, Florida. It was the first hurricane to
do so, north of Stuart, since the Great Hurricane of 1880. The
hurricane's winds of 125 miles per hour at St. Augustine resulted in a
12-foot storm tide which swept across Anastasia Island (St. Augus-
tine) and also produced a 10 foot storm tide at Fernandina Beach, and
Jacksonville. These massive storm tides caused extensive beach
erosion, inundated most beach communities, washed out beach roads,
and swept buildings into the sea. There was also considerable flood-
ing along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville. Total damage was
estimated at $250 million dollars (more than $1 billion in 1990 dol-
lars) (U.S. Weather Bureau, September 1964).
Hurricane Isbell, while not a strong hurricane, struck Florida in
October 1964 and is described as an eyewitness account by one of the
authors, J.M. Williams.
This storm grew down south of the western tip of Cuba and
proceeded northeast, across Cuba, the Florida Straits, and into the
Ten Thousand Islands region of southwest Florida. From there,
Isbell took a more northeast course across Florida. On the evening
of October 14th, the storm passed just northwest of Fort Lauder-
dale, Florida. Winds were 50 to 60 miles per hour with a recorded
gust of 120 miles per hour. Many tornadoes, spawned by Isbell,
caused as much damage as the hurricane did. Rains were extremely
heavy in the early period of the storm but slacked off to nearly dry
conditions at the end. A tornado, less than a block from where I
lived, tore the whole Florida room, constructed of block, off a
house. Isbell passed out to sea between the cities of Palm Beach
and Vero Beach and dissipated in the Atlantic.
The following year, in September 1965, Hurricane Betsy, a
Category 3 storm, struck extreme southern Florida from the east.
Wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour were reported as far north as
Melbourne. In south Florida, an observer at Grassy Key reported
winds of 160 miles per hour before the anemometer was blown away
at 7:15 AM on the 8th September. Six to eight foot storm tides and
wave action caused considerable flooding between greater Miami and
the Palm Beaches; rising waters flooded extensive sections of Key
Biscayne, covering virtually all of the island (U.S. Weather Bureau,
September 1965). (See Photographs).
Hurricane Betsy, (Figures 11 and 12) was unique and formed far
out in the Atlantic around the 27th of August, and was obviously a
Cape Verde type hurricane. After moving west for a few days, it
developed an erratic course starting around Puerto Rico (Sugg,
1966). The path was a zig-zag, generally in a northwest direction to
a point about 300 miles almost due east of Cape Kennedy, (as the
Cape was known in those days). She became stationary there for
nearly two days, then suddenly moved in a south-southwest direction
which took her right into the central Bahamas. Just east of Nassau,
Betsy stalled again. For 20 hours, winds of 120-140 miles per hour
buffeted the area causing death and destruction.
The following eye-witness (J.M. Williams) report is about the
passage of Betsy in western Ft. Lauderdale.
During the 7th of September we were intermittently pelted with
rain and strong wind gusts. Nassau is only about 150 nautical miles
from Ft. Lauderdale and since Betsy was a large 'Cane', we were
getting all sorts of weather in the area.
During the early morning of the 8th, we were getting rain in sheets
with several gusts in the 125 miles per hour category. Sustained winds
easily hung in there between 65 or 90!
Even though we did not experience the eye, things would calm
down to almost sunshine conditions-but this would not last long.
There was a lot of flooding and house seepage but not as bad
as last year's Cleo. Betsy's eye, which was huge and about 40
miles in diameter, was south of us and our pressure bottomed out at
This combination of pelting rain and heavy winds continued all
day long, and even at supper time it was still not advisable to ven-
ture outside. Our power was off for more than ten hours and the
usual mass of debris was all over the place. There was a lot of
orange and grapefruit damage as well as damage to other crops;
again most of the pea-rock was blown off the garage roof.
Our place was wet for a long time and I recorded more than
eight inches of rain for the passage period. When there is no break
up to the continuity of a storm (the eye), you get the effects all the
time: more rains, more winds, more everything.
Inez was a Cape Verde type hurricane with a classic track
through the Caribbean, across Haiti and Cuba and into the Florida
Straits. From there she earned the name, "the Crazy One" by the
National Hurricane Center. She took a very erratic course, first
north, then south, then east, and finally west and this had every-
body's fingernails completely gone!
Before she died in the mountains near Tampico, Mexico, Inez
had killed more than 1500 people, had recorded top winds of 190
miles per hour, and planted a barometric pressure of 27.38 inches
(from air reconn) in the books! Back then, that was called a "Se-
vere" Hurricane. Today that would be a strong category 4.
The following eye witness report (J.M. Williams) is of the pas-
sage of the storm in western Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
I had put the wife and kids to bed early that night and told
them that Inez was heading northeast. As erratic as it had been
though, I was going to stay up and keep a check on it. I was off
duty so there was nothing else to do, and I was a Storm-Hunter
anyway. I was glued to the weather radio, TV, barometer and the
rest of the instruments at my station. But as enthusiastic as I was
about the whole thing, I was guilty of dozing off two or three times.
The winds here were gusting more than 40 miles per hour and
I had pulled down the shutters just in case.
At 0800, 3 October, the pressure at the house was 29.65
inches, temperature was 78*F, Dew Point was 78F, humidity was
100%. winds were north at 29 miles per hour sustained and it was
overcast with rain Inez was 93 miles east-northeast of Miami
moving north-northeast at 7 miles per hour. We had it made.
At 1100, the storm was 75 miles west-northwest of Nassau
moving north-north east.
At 1400, she was stationary about 85 miles west-northwest of
At 2300, Inez was drifting slowly south-southwest pushing 25
foot seas as reported by a Coast Guard Cutter. The Southeast
Florida coast had gusts of more that 55 miles per hour. I dozed a
couple of times even though I knew it was now coming this way.
At 0345, 4 October. I awoke to shutters rattling and pelting
rain! Winds were gusting more than 60 miles per hour. Barometer
was 29.59 inches, temperature was 75*F, dew point was 73F,
humidity was 91% and it was overcast with thunder and lightning!
At 0700, Inez was 45 miles southeast of Miami with winds of
at least 85 miles per hour and moving west at 7 miles per hour.
At 1100, the storm was mo ing west-southwest at 8 miles per
hour with gale-force winds 175 miles to the north, and 100 miles
south. Here, we had hurricane gusts frequently and gales with
heavy rains all day. U.S. Highway No. 1 in the Keys was under
water. The eye of the storm was 30 miles in diameter.
At 2000, my barometer was reading 29.67 inches and I was
still getting gusts in excess of 45 miles per hour. By 1500, 5
October, Inez was stationary near Dry Tortugas with winds of 120
miles per hour. From there, she finally continued west to Mexico.
We got a bit of minor damage on the house and there was a lot
trash to pick up around the yard. Everything was wet for a few
days, however, we considered ourselves lucky!
The earliest hurricane to hit the U.S. was Alma. She struck
northwest Florida June 9, 1966.
During the 18th and 19th of October, 1968, Hurricane Gladys
struck the west coast of Florida between Bayport and Crystal River
about midnight on the 18th.
Gladys formed in the western Caribbean near Swan Island and
steadily move in a north track across western Cuba, over Dry Tortu-
gas and into Florida's west coast.
Dry Tortugas and Plantation Key both reported winds near 90
miles per hour. The storm's forward speed was about 15 miles per
hour. Tides along the west coast were 6.5 feet above normal causing
beach erosion and flooding mostly between Clearwater and Bayport.
Maximum gusts were over 100 miles per hour and lowest pres-
sure was 28.76 inches. Citrus was heavily damaged and mobile-
home damage was extensive, as usual, as far inland as Ocala. Gladys
broke out into the Atlantic near St. Augustine having killed 3 people
in Florida and one in Cuba. One more death was added in Nova
Scotia and the total damage was nearly $17 million in 1968.
The next to the last 10-year period, 1971-1980, had the lowest
storm total of the 122-year history. Three hurricanes and one tropi-
cal storm. The three Florida hurricanes were Agnes, Eloise and
Hurricane Agnes, which occurred in 1972, was barely a Cate-
gory 1 hurricane in Florida but resulted in major devastation in the
middle, southern, and northeastern states, and caused 122 deaths and
six billion dollars damage in 1990 dollars. Agnes struck the Florida
panhandle, then merged with another system in the mid-U.S., trigger-
ing torrential rains and extreme flooding throughout the entire eastern
The threat of a hurricane usually diminishes rapidly as it moves
inland and loses its oceanic heat source, however, sometimes the
storm will encounter an environment that supplies an auxiliary source
of energy to maintain strength far inland. Such is the case with
Agnes, which from landfall near Apalachicola, Florida, where losses
were less than $10 million, she traveled nearly a thousand more miles
to become one of the most destructive storms in U.S. history.
Hurricane Eloise, in 1975, was a Category 3 hurricane. Hurri-
cane David, in 1979, had weakened from a Category 4, to a Cate-
gory 1 hurricane when it struck Florida, but David still caused over
$400 million in damage.
Hurricane Eloise, which came in September 1975, made landfall
about midway between Ft. Walton Beach and Panama City (Balsillie,
1985). It was the first direct hit by a major hurricane in the 20th
Century in that area.. Measurements of high water marks by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated hurricane tides of 12-16 feet
above mean sea level. Eglin Air Force Base, 20 miles west of the
center, reported the highest sustained wind of 81 miles per hour
when the instrument failed; 14.9 inches of rain fell. However,
maximum sustained winds were estimated at about 125 miles per
hour with gusts to 156 miles per hour. The combined effects of
winds and tides undermined or demolished numerous structures along
the beach from Ft. Walton Beach to Panama City (North Atlantic
Tropical Series, volume 26, 1975); the lowest barometric pressure
was 28.20 inches. Damage was over $1 billion in 1990 dollars from
this category 3 hurricane; there were 21 deaths in the United States.
In 1979, the National Hurricane Center decided to integrate Male
and Female names for the hurricanes in the Atlantic for the first
time.. Bob was the first Atlantic hurricane and the 'guys' decided to
out-do the 'gals'....and they did!
In September 1979, Hurricane David moved inland south of Mel-
bourne on the east coast and then northward along the Indian River to
exit at New Smyrna Beach. It was the first hurricane to strike the
Cape Canaveral area since the hurricane of 1926. Severe beach
erosion from a near five foot storm tide was reported in Brevard
County and the southern portion of Volusia County. Some homes,
businesses, and public buildings were severely damaged or destroyed,
however, most of the damage, though widespread, was minor be-
cause the strongest winds were just offshore over the adjacent Atlan-
Figure 13 shows Hurricane David from the 22,000 mile high
Geosynhcronus Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) orbiting
the earth. At this point, August 31, David was about to make land-
fall on Hispaniola about 1800 EST. Winds were near 150 miles per
hour and the central pressure was 27.34 inches. Earlier, about 125
miles south of Puerto Rico, sustained winds of 150 miles per hour
and central pressure of 27.29 inches was David's strongest point,
then rated as a category 4 hurricane.
On 1 September at 0600, David broke into the sea north of
Hispaniola and Haiti. Winds were down to about 75 miles per hour
after crossing a 10,000-foot mountain in the Dominican Republic.
Later that day, a hurricane watch was posted for south Florida with
the weakened storm some 350 miles southeast of Miami. In the late
evening of the same day, hurricane warnings were up as the now
strengthened hurricane, with 90 mile per hour winds, was 300 miles
At 0700 on September 3rd, David was 35 miles east of Ft. Laud-
erdale with 85 mile per hour winds and a pressure of 28.85 inches.
Ft. Lauderdale experienced torrential rain, in squalls with gusts over
75 miles per hour. Since the eye and strong side of the storm were
over the ocean, this condition kept up most of the da\.
Figure 14 shows David, at about 1800 that evening. David made
landfall about 20 miles south of Melbourne with 90 mile-per hour
winds and central pressure of 28.75 inches, a Category 1 hurricane.
From there, the hurricane made it to Savannah, Georgia, before
downgrading to a tropical storm, on September 4th. On the 7th,
David was no longer a threat and died near Newfoundland (see
Fatalities were: 5, United States; 7 Puerto Rico; 56 Dominica;
and 1200 in the Dominican Republic. The damage was $5 million
(1990 dollar value) in the U.S. and Florida.
While Hurricane Frederic (1979) did not strike Florida directly,
hurricane warnings extended over to Panama City on September
11th, and gale warnings were displayed south to Cedar Key (Balsillie,
Frederic had a development that was similar to David. This
caused much apprehension because people were not ready for another
storm so soon, one week, after David.
The final thirteen years (1981-1993) of the thirty-two year pe-
riod, had several storms and hurricanes, marking an upswing in
overall storm activity (Table 4). Some of the storms became hurri-
canes after they passed Florida, and will be mentioned briefly here.
On August 17 and 18, 1981, tropical storm Dennis struck Flor-
ida. Dennis started as a tropical storm southwest of the Cape Verde
Islands on the 6th of August, and continued at this level near Barba-
dos. Dennis became a tropical depression south of Puerto Rico and
then turned into a mere disturbance. Just west of Jamaica, Dennis
regained tropical storm status, turned north and slammed into the
southwest Florida coast. The track was up through central Florida to
become stationary between Ft. Myers and southwest Lake Okeecho-
bee. Southeast Florida had 10 inches of rain, and Homestead had 20
inches. Winds were more than 55 miles per hour. Finally, Dennis
moved across the lake and out to sea near Melbourne and Cape
On the 20th, east of Cape Hatteras, Dennis became a hurricane.
On August 25th, 1983, tropical storm Barry struck Florida. This
storm crossed Florida on a track from Melbourne to Tampa on the
25th, first as a tropical storm and then as a tropical depression.
After crossing the Gulf, Barry became a hurricane southeast of
Brownsville,' Texas, on the 28th of August.
Hurricane Diana, which gained hurricane status on September
10, 1984. scraped the Florida coast between Daytona and Jackson-
ville on the 9th-I0th as a tropical storm; winds were in excess of 70
miles per hour.
Tropical storm Isidore occurred during the period between Sep-
tember 25 and October 1, 1984. On the 27th, it had winds of 50
miles per hour. Landfall occurred between Vero Beach and Mel-
bourne on the evening of the 27th. From there it went to Orlando at
about midnight, then travelled west, to about 75 miles north of Tam-
pa. On the 28th it made another turn, headed northeast, crossing
over to Jacksonville and then out to sea; the storm was accompanied
by heavy rains.
Hurricane Bob was relatively short-lived and struck the southwest
Florida coast near Ft. Myers on July 21-25, 1985 as a tropical storm.
Winds were 50-70 miles per hour. Bob crossed Lake Okeechobee
and went out to sea near Vero Beach on the 23rd of July, followed
by a sharp turn to the north, skirting Daytona on the 24th. Bob
became a hurricane at sea on the 24th, east of Georgia.
On October 9-13th, 1987, Hurricane Floyd appeared. It moved
across the western tip of Cuba on the 11th on a northeast track. A
more eastern turn was made across the Dry Tortugas and into the
Keys on the 12th of October. It became a hurricane near Key West
with winds of 80 miles per hour. The eye of the hurricane crossed
over Key West at about noon. Warnings were given all across south
Florida; some tornadoes occurred in the southwest coast of Florida.
The eye of the storm appeared over Marathon later and over Key
Largo at about 1800 on the 12th. Floyd's winds were 75 miles per
hour and the barometric pressure was 29.32 inches. About 30 miles
south of Miami, Floyd broke out into the Atlantic near midnight on
the 12th. Winds and rains attributed to Floyd were felt as far as
Hurricanes Elena, Juan, and Kate, which occurred in 1985, are
briefly discussed below.
-------------- i ---- T T i
Hurricane Elena, a Category 3 hurricane in August/September
1985, deserves discussion although it never actually made landfall in
Florida (Figure 15). Its center passed within 40 miles of the West
Coast, where it stalled for about 24 hours offshore from Cedar Key,
and then moved west northwest, passing within 30 miles of Cape San
Bias. In its passage the storm tide that was created caused heavy
waterfront damage in the City of Cedar Key and the disappearance of
1500 feet of the exposed south tip of Cape San Bias. Because of the
offshore location of Elena's peak winds, most of the damage to the
coast was due to the storm tide (7-9 feet) and wave activity causing
destruction which stretched from Venice to Pensacola. Nearly a
million people were evacuated from low lying coastal sections in the
warning areas posted for Hurricane Elena (Case, 1986).
While not directly striking the Florida coastline, Juan (Figure 16)
in October/November 1985, nevertheless, impacted the extreme
northwest Florida panhandle. Also, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota and
Lee Counties were continuously pounded by the storms spiral bands
through the evening of Halloween (see Figures 16a, b and c).
On November 21, 1985, Hurricane Kate (Figure 17), a category
2 storm, struck the coast near Port St. Joe in the Florida Panhandle.
It was the only hurricane to strike Florida so late in the season this
far north. Just prior to making landfall near Mexico Beach, about
halfway between Panama City and Port St. Joe, Kate slowed her
forward speed and weakened in the early morning because of cooler
sea surface temperatures in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The total
damage, was mainly due to the storm tide and wave activity. A
sizeable $300 million in damages (adjusted to 1990 dollars) resulted,
yet it caused only about one-fourth of the damage inflicted by Hurri-
cane Elena. As with Elena, damage to the coast was mainly due to
the storm tide and wave activity.
Hurricane Chris was a tropical storm during the period August
21-29th, 1988. Chris, with heavy rains, skirted the Florida east coast
from Miami to Jacksonville, first as a tropical depression then as a
tropical storm on the 27th and 28th.
Hurricane Keith was a tropical storm during November 17-24,
1988. The storm moved into Florida's west coast between Ft. Myers
and Tampa on the 22nd, a tropical storm with 65 miles per hour.
The storm crossed the state intact and came out into the Atlantic near
Melbourne and Cape Canaveral on the 23rd. Heavy rains and some
tornadoes were sighted throughout the state.
While 1990 produced 14 named storms, the most since naming
began in 1953, only Marco, a tropical storm affected the northwest
portion of Florida slightly and Klaus, as a final disturbance got into
the central and north central part of Florida. 1991 couldn't rally
anything more than a brush with tropical storm Fabian on the ex-
treme southeast tip of Florida.
Hurricane Bob, the most potential of the 1991 season headed
toward the Miami-Palm Beach area but 200 to 300 miles off the
Florida coast he executed an almost 90 degree turn to the north and
missed all of Florida. So the Sunshine State escaped once again.
Thus, in 1991 no hurricanes struck Florida.
Except for several tropical depressions, June, July and half of
August of the 1992 hurricane season was quiet. The last late start
was Anita back in 1977 on the 28th of August, in the Gulf of Mex-
But on August 14th, 1992, satellite photos indicated a strong
tropical wave off the African coast in the area of the Cape Verde
Islands. This system moved west for two days and developed into a
tropical depression near 11.6N and 40.4W early on the 17th. By
noon of the 17th the winds were 40 miles per hour and Tropical
Storm Andrew was named. This position was about 1175 miles east
of the Lesser Antilles.
By the 20th, Andrew was in trouble, with winds less than 45
miles per hour and the barometric pressure was that of normal sea
level; the whole system was shaky. At this point, San Juan, Puerto
Rico, was only 350 miles southwest, but Andrew had slowed down!
The next morning, however, winds were up to 60 miles per hour
and pressure had dropped to 29.71 inches. By 2300 on the 21st,
Andrew was 610 miles east of Nassau, in the Bahamas, with 65 mile
per hour winds.
The morning of the 22nd of August, air reconn confirmed that,
"Andrew is now a hurricane". Winds were 76 miles per hour, pres-
sure was 29.35 inches and he was 800 miles east of Miami, Florida.
By 2300 on the 22nd Andrew was moving dead west at 15 miles
per hour with 110 mile per hour winds and a pressure of 28.32 in-
ches, a Category 2 hurricane.
But by noon of the 23rd we had a Category 4 hurricane! Winds
were 135 miles per hour, pressure had dropped to 27.46 inches, and
the storm was 330 miles east of Miami, still moving west at 16 miles
By 1415 that same afternoon, Andrew was at his peak with 150
mile per hour winds and 27.23 inches (Andrew was very close to a
Category 5 storm). At this point a Hurricane Watch was posted from
Titusville south to Vero Beach and Hurricane Warnings covered from
Vero Beach south through the keys and up the west coast to Ft.
By 2100 on August 23rd, Andrew was in the Bahamas 180 miles
east of Miami. Landfall near Miami was predicted for early morning
Between 0400-0500 on the 24th, Andrew struck the Florida
coastline just south of Miami, with sustained winds of 145 miles per
hour and recorded gusts of 164 miles per hour, reported by the
National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, before the main radar at
the center was destroyed. Gusts to 175 mph were later confirmed.
Andrew crossed the stale with 125 mile per hour winds and a
forward speed of 18 miles per hour, still moving dead west, and a
Category 3 storm now. Pressure was 27.91 inches. Some recorded
gusts in miles per hour were:
Palm Beach International Airport 54
Goodyear Blimp Base at Pompano 100
Miami International Airport 115
National Hurricane Center 163
Turkey Point Power Point 163
Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant 160
Fowey Rocks (Biscayne Bay) 169
(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1993.)
Once into the warm waters of the Gulf, winds returned to 140
miles per hour, or Category 4 again.
By 0600 on the 25th, Andrew was 270 miles southeast of New
Orleans, now moving west-northwest at 17 miles per hour. Winds
were 140 miles per hour.
At 1300 on the 25th. the storm was 150 miles south of New
Orleans moving west-northwest at 16 miles per hour. Winds were
still 140 miles per hour and barometric pressure was 27.85 inches.
The storm slowed-down to almost stationary 30 miles south- east
of Lafayette, Louisiana. Early on the 26th of August, winds near
new Iberia, Louisiana, were reported to be 115 miles per hour with
gusts to 160 miles per hour.
Landfall occurred between New Iberia and Lafayette, Louisiana,
as a Category 3 hurricane.
By noon on the 26th Andrew was down-graded to tropical storm
status for the first time since the 22nd of August. Near Baton
Rouge, Louisiana, there was up to 10 inches of rain and 65 mile per
. -1 .
hour winds, with tornadoes.
By the morning of the 28th, the system was in eastern Tennessee,
trying to merge with a cold front, the remains of hurricane Lester, a
Pacific hurricane. Andrew finally died out in Pennsylvania on Au-
gust 29, 1993.
On Sabbatical with Hurricane Andrew
After anchoring their 40-foot sailboat (named Sabbatical) in
Manatee Bay in the upper Keys, Dr. and Mrs. Stephens took refuge
in a friend's home in Southwest Miami.
The following is an eye witness account written by Lois Stephens
of Melbourne Beach, Florida.
Sleep was difficult, but I think we all managed to sleep some.
About 2:00 AM it started. The wind was howling and shutters
were banging. The five of us all crowded into the hallway, just like
the usual pre-hurricane instructions stated. Fortunately, Karen had
put out candles for us. So far so good. The lights went out, the
rain started. The wind got many times stronger and the house
almost shivered. The force became so great we ran almost panicky
into the bathrooms. There were two, both without windows. Ron
and Karen headed for one, Lee, Tom and I the other. We sat on
lawn chairs, nestled close together, in the dark with our eyes
closed. We opened the door only long enough to get a small votive
candle, but the force became too great to open it. The wind grew
more ferocious. Suddenly, the windows began to blow out, one at
a time, fiercely smashing against the tiled floors. One huge crash I
assumed to be the TV, but it was the new Iy purchased computer.
Glass kept smashing. I had been aware for some time of my two
root canals. It was strange, but the teeth had piercing pain. I
remembered once before being in an airplane with inadequate
pressure regulation and experiencing the same pain. Then it hit.
The drop in pressure in the house was so intense it caused pain in
your ears and you had to keep swallowing, something like when a
plane takes off, but much, much worse. We tried to open the
bathroom door, but the force was too great. So three and two of us
sat in silence, eyes closed, waiting for the horror to end. The small
door to the "attic" storage space blew in and the rain followed.
Water crept in around our feet, and I had a dread of it rising. But
it did not. Sometime after 6:00, I think, the wind subsided
substantially, and we had nerve enough to leave our sanctuary. The
house was all but demolished. The bed where Tom and I had slept
a few hours before was full of glass and wet soggy debris. (My
emergency bag of clothing, eic was waterproof, but I had left it
unzipped so it was likewise uer and full of junk.) The newly tiled
(and in 3 rooms, newly carpeted) floors were covered with roof
%hingles, nails. much glass of all sizes, furniture, books, and of
course, with a couple of inches of water. Ceiling fans still clung to
their mountings, but under each, the light globes were full of dirty
water. Water oozed from holes in the walls where Karen's (she is
an artist) newly framed tropical paintings had been hung. Paint was
stripped from the walls. The carport (a sturdy "permanent" one)
and door overhang were gone. The new roof was without shingles,
and had gaping holes. A look outside showed that all trees and
fences were dou n. It was, of course, light now, so being cautious
but ignoring some of the warnings we had heard, we walked around
the neighborhood. It was sickening, horrifying. Not one house had
escaped major damage. Trees, even the largest, were sprawled
over houses, cars and streets. Some cars had only broken windows
and dents (as did our friend's), and some were blown about and
overturned. One had burned from a fallen power line. Not just the
power lines were down, but heavy duty power poles were also
broken. Except for no smoke or fires at this point, it must have
been what a "bombed out" area looks like in wartime. Mirac-
ulously, quick checks with neighbors found no one injured. Since
roads in every direction were impassable, any hope of getting back
to what might or might not be left of our boat were given up for the
Highways were somewhat clear by this time, except for some
questionable power lines. Trees and large downed poles lined the
way. What was most amazing, though, was that literally thousands
of cars had found their way to the same area where we were.
Traffic was next to impossible, lights and signs inoperative, and
cars in extremely questionable condition. We'll never know the
number of traffic accidents that day alone.
We passed the hotel, the Holiday Inn, where we had tried so
desperately to get a room. It was standing, but barely, with all
T- "r -T--------
windows, balconies, etc. blown away. We passed houses with
walls only and houses without any walls. Devastation went on for
miles. We passed lines of hundreds of people waiting for water.
Huge trucks had apparently been placed there at some point to
distribute bottled water. One truck had blown uselessly on its side.
Eventually we got to our boat it was not where we had left it,
of course, but it looked good and was tightly nestled back in a
grove of mangroves, aground. Miraculously, even the little Zodiac
dinghy was still tied to it, snuggled alongside like a loyal puppy
nestled against its master. A window was out, glass was every-
where and branches were entwined in some lines. A stanchion
(Tom says) was out and leaves and red mud covered one side of the
boat. It was beautiful we were ecstatic. The carpet was wet the
galley was soaked and covered with glass, but everything else was
as we left it.
That night, Tom and I were alone in the middle of Manatee
Bay, the most beautiful anchorage of our entire sailing experience.
The sky was clear and bursting with stars with no electric lights to
distract from their beauty. There were no airplanes, distant cars,
trains or any noises. The most amazing phenomena was taking
place in the water around us. We had seen luminous fish on
occasion, but we saw intensely brilliant green fish swimming
around the boat. We dropped a line in the water and swirled it
around and it left a trail of light behind it, somewhat like a comet.
If we splashed the water, we splashed thousands of tiny lights. (All
of this, of course, sent us later to our reference books to see what
we had discovered.) We were so fortunate, so thankful, and we
sipped our champagne.
...THE NEXT DAY...
We were stopped by the Miami Police in a huge inflatable boat
and advised we were on the Coast Guard "list" (missing persons
and boats) and to "call home".
I IIII I
As of this writing, assessment of Hurricane Andrew is
incomplete. However, the following is a reasonable preliminary
estimate of death and destruction and some important characteristics
of the storm.
Current death toll stands as 41. This is far less than what has oc-
curred in past hurricanes of comparable strength.
Hurricane Andrew is the most destructive natural disaster in U.S.
history! Damage estimates are fluctuating between $15 and $30
billion, most of which is in southern Dade and Monroe Counties,
Florida, from Kendall southward to Key Largo. The Bahamas are
estimating at least $250 million dollars in damage and Louisiana
more than $1 billion.
Florida's agricultural industry loss was $1.04 billion alone.
There was moderate impact damage to the offshore reef areas down
to a depth of 75 feet (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1993).
117,000 homes were destroyed or had major damage and 90% of
all homes in Dade County had major roof damage (U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers, 1993).
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who worked
cooperatively with other agencies to determine environmental im-
pacts, 12.7 million cubic yards of debris resulting from Andrew were
hauled away; there were 39 approved debris burning sites (Figure
Damage to the Turkey Point nuclear powerplant belonging to
Florida Power and Light Co. was $100 million (U.S. Army Corps of
In terms of damage to moored recreational vessels within Bis-
cayne Bay, a total of 918 hurricane damaged vessels were found.
According to Antonini et al. (1993), ..."roughly ... one-third of the
damaged vessels were completely or partially submerged, damaged
but floating, and damage aground." The site of the greatest
devastation was in the area of Dinner Key Marina near Coral Gables
Massive evacuations were ordered in Florida and Louisiana. This
accounts for the low death rate. It's called Hurricane Preparedness.
The recovery process is still underway (Figures 19 and 20), but it
should be emphasized that the results of tremendous structural
damage by Andrew's winds could become accumulative in the future.
Andrew was a compact system with a radius of maximum winds
of about 12 miles. A slightly larger system or one with a landfall a
few miles further north would have been even more catastrophic by
affecting the more heavily populated areas of Greater Miami, Miami
Beach, and Fort Lauderdale. New Orleans was relatively spared
Such statistics as the 16.9 foot storm tide in Biscayne Bay,
Miami, is a record maximum for southeast Florida. Louisiana had 7
foot storm tides.
Only Hurricane Camille in 1969 and the "Great Labor Day
Hurricane of 1935" in the Florida Keys had lower Barometric
pressures at landfall in this century. Barometric pressure associated
with Andrew bottomed out at 27.23 inches.
A maximum 10-second flight-level wind speed of 170 knots, or
196 miles per hour, was reported by the reconnaissance aircraft in
the vicinity of northern Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas on the 23rd
of August. The storm surge there was 23 feet!
Andrew will not be the last hurricane to cause such massive
devastation and havoc. Another similar storm may appear next year,
or ten years from now-there is no way to know when. However,
the bitter lessons we have learned should provide us with ample
ammunition to survive the next big one.
The 1993 Hurricane Season
No hurricanes or tropical storms struck Florida or seriously
affected Florida in 1993. The most powerful storm of the 1993
season was Hurricane Emily, August 22 to September 6. She was a
Category 3 hurricane with top winds of 120 miles per hour and a low
pressure of 28.38 inches. This storm came directly at Florida until
the 28th of August, at which time she turned to the northwest.
Emily, because of Andrew in 1992, did a first-class scare-job on the
Florida coast from Miami to Jacksonville but she never got to within
800 miles of the Florida coast at any point. Emily scraped the Cape
Hatteras area with minimal damage then turned back east again to die
out some 480 miles south, southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland.
Anon., 1926. Tropical Hurricane Spreads Disasters Along East Coast,
Melbourne Journal, Melbourne, Florida, July 27, 1926.
Antonini, G.A., P.W. Box, E. Brady, M. Clarke, H.R. Ledesma, and J.L.
Rahn. 1993. Location and Assessment of Hurricane Andrew Damaged
Vessels on Biscayne Bay and Adjoining Shores. Florida Sea Grant Col-
lege Program, Gainesville, FL 58 pp.
Anon., 1928. Northern Extremity of Tropical Hurricane Sweeps through
Melbourne, Melbourne Times-Journal, Melbourne Florida, August 10,
Balsillie, J.H. 1985. Post-Storm Report: The Florida East Coast Thanks-
giving Holiday Storm of 21-24 November 1984 Department of Natural
Resources, Division of Beaches and Shores, State of Florida, Tallahassee.
Bigelow, F.H., 1898. Features of Hurricanes (Originally published in
Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture for 1898). Quoted In: West
Indian Hurricanes by E.B. Garriott, Weather Bureau, Washington, D.C.,
69 pp + tracking charts.
Case, R.A. 1986. Atlantic Hurricane Season of 1985. Monthly Weather
Review, Volume 114, No. 7, 1390-1405.
Clark, R.C. 1986a. The Impact of Hurricane Elena and TS Juan on Coastal
Construction in Florida. Beaches and Shores Post-Storm Report 85-3.
Department of Natural Resources, Division of Beaches and Shores, State
of Florida, Tallahassee, 142 pp.
Clark, R.C. 1986b. Hurricane Kate Beaches and Shores Post-Storm Report
86-1. Department of Natural Resources, Division of Beaches and Shores,
State of Florida, Tallahassee, 114 pp.
Dunn, G.E. and B.I. Miller. 1964. Atlantic Hurricanes. Louisiana State
University Press, Baton Rouge, 377 pp.
Dunn, G.E. and Staff 1967. Florida Hurricanes. Technical Memorandum
WBTM SR-38, Environmental Sciences Services Administration, National
Hurricane Center, Coral Gables, Florida.
Frank, N., 1978. Hurricanes in Brevard County, Florida Today, Mel-
bourne, Florida, Sunday, June 4, 1978.
Garriott, E.B., 1900. West Indian Hurricanes. Weather Bureau, Wash-
Gray, R. W. 1949. Florida Hurricanes, In: Monthly Weather Review,
Volume 61, No. 1, January 1933. (Revised by G. Norton and reprinted as
a separate pamphlet, 1949, 6 pp.)
Gray, W. M., 1990. Strong Association Between West African Rainfall
and U.S. Landfall of Intense Hurricanes. Science, Volume 249, pp 1251-
Hebert, P.J., J.D. Jarrell, and M. Mayfield. 1992. The Deadliest, Costliest,
and Most Intense United States Hurricanes of this Century (and other fre-
quently requested hurricane facts). NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS
HNC-31, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National
Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, Coral Gables, Florida, 39
Holmes, G. W. 1876. Letter to a friend: F. A. Hopwood, Personal collec-
tion, Melbourne, Florida, 1985
National Climatic Center. 1954-1979. North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones
Series (1954-1979). Climatological Data, National Summary Volumes,
National Climatic Center, Asheville, North Carolina, each year paginated.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 1970-
1979. Climatological Data, National Summary, Volume 21-30. No. 13
National Climatic Center, Asheville, North Carolina, unpaginated.
NOAA, 1982. Some Devastating North Atlantic Hurricanes of the 20th
Century. U. S. Department of Commerce, NOAA, Washington, D.C., 14
NOAA, 1987. Tropical Cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean, 1871-1986.
Historical Climatology Series 6-2, National Climatic Center, Asheville,
North Carolina, 186 pp.
NOAA, 1993. "Hurricanes" A Familiarization Booklet, Revised April 1983,
NOAA PA 91001, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
National Hurricane Center, Coral Gables, Florida, 36 pp.
Rabac, G. 1986. The City of Cocoa Beach, the First Sixty Years. Apollo
Books, Winona, Minnesota, Page vii.
Simpson, R.H. and H. Riehl. 1981. The Hurricane and Its Impact. Louisi-
ana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London, 399 pp.
Sugg, A.L. 1966. The Hurricane Season of 1965. Monthly Weather
Review, Volume 94, No.3, pp 183-191.
Sugg, A.L., L.G. Pardue, and R.L. Carrodus. 1971. Memorable Hurri-
canes of the United States since 1873. NOAA Technical Memorandum
NWS SR-56, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National
Weather Service, Southern Region, Fort Worth, Texas, 52 pp.
Tannehill, I. R. 1938. Hurricanes, their Nature and History. Princeton
University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 304 pp.
U.S. Weather Bureau, Monthly and Annual Reports, 1897-1965. Clima-
to logical Data, Florida, April 1897-December 1965. National Climatic
Center, Asheville, North Carolina, microfiche 112 fiche.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 1993. Hurricane Andrew Storm Sum-
mary and Impacts on the Beachs of Florida, Special Report. Jacksonville
District, Florida, 61 pp. plus several appendices.
Yanaros, J., 1986. Personal Communication. Damage Caused by Hurri-
cane in Ft. Pierce, 1933, Melbourne, Florida.
Tables, Figures and Plates
Table 1. Saffir-Simpson Scale for Classifying Hurricanes
Cate- Pressure Winds Surge Damage
gory (millibars) (inches) (mph) (feet)
1 980 28.94 74-95 4-5 minimal
2 965-975 28.50-28.91 96-110 6-8 moderate
3 945-964 27.91-29.47 111-130 9-12 extensive
4 920-944 27.17-27.88 131-155 13-18 extreme
5 <920 27.17 155 18 catastrophic
Table 2. Number of hurricanes, tropical storms and combined total storms
by 10-year periods.
10-Yr Hurricanes Tropical Total
1871-1880 NA NA 21
1881-1890 NA NA 21
1891-1900 10 11 21
1901-1910 6 11 17
1911-1920 7 4 11
1921-1930 9 2 11
1931-1940 6 12 18
1941-1950 12 8 20
1951-1960 3 10 13
1961-1970 7 4 11
1971-1980 3 1 4
1981-1992 4 8 12
TOTAL 74 76 180'
*Includes 30 tropical cyclones of unknown intensity.
Table 3. The table below is presented here for reference only. It was used to
classify intensities of hurricanes through about 1970 and was replaced by the Saffir-
Simpson Scale. (Adapted from Dunn and Miller, 1964)
Hurricane Classification in Use Prior to 1970
Hurricane Intensity Maximum Winds Minimum Central Pressure
Minor 74 29.40
Minimal 74-100 29.03-29.40
Major' 101-135 28.01-29.00
Extreme2 136 28.00
SMajor Hurricane: A hurricane with winds 111 mph or more also referred to as
a category 3 or higher hurricane as classified by the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Prior
to 1970, this description was used.
2 Extreme Hurricane: An extreme hurricane, also called a "Great" hurricane, is a
hurricane of great intensity (winds 125 mph or more) and great size (diameter of
hurricane wind 100 miles or more) and other factors such as minimum pressure,
storm tides, destruction, and fatalities (Gray as revised by Norton, 1949). The term
"Great Hurricane" was used to classify storms through 1970) and is not used any
more today. Norton (1949) classified 10 hurricane as "Great" between 1880 and
1948 and are listed below:
Palm Beach Lake Okeechobee
Key West Fort Myers
Palm Beach Lake Okeechobee
Great Labor Day Hurricane, Florida Keys
Key West Tampa Jacksonville
Fort Lauderdale Fort Myers
Table 4. Chronological list of hurricanes in Florida. (Only hurricanes are listed.)
Peak Min. Max.
Date Name A af- winds press. surge Damage Death Other Data
e MPH Inches feet
1871 Unk Cocoa Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: Frank (1978). Not confirmed as
Aug. Bch a full hurricane. Direct hit, East-Central FL.
1873 Major 20 miles Unk Unk 14 Unk, Reference: Dunn and Miller (1960). Punta
Oct. SSE of Rassa, FL destroyed. From west coast, across
Venice state to direct hit East-Central FL.
1876 Unk Eau Gallie Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: Frank(1978) and Holmes (1876).
Sept. (Melb.) Indirect hit East-Central FL.
1880 Major Cocoa Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: Frank (1978) and Gray (1949).
Aug. Bch. Severe damage at Palm Bch and Lake Okee-
chobee. Direct hit East-Central FL.
1885 Unk 20 miles Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: Rabac (1986). Indirect hit East--
Aug. E.of Central FL.
1886 Major Apalach- Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: Gray (1949), NOAA (1987). High
June icola tides.
Date Name Area af- Peak Min. Max. Damage Death Other Data
fected winds pres. surge
MPH Inches feet
1886 Unk St. Marks Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: NOAA (1987).
1886 Unk N. of Ce- Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: NOAA (1987).
July dar Key
1887 Unk Val- Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: NOAA (1987).
1888 Unk Miami Unk Unk 14 Unk, Reference: NOAA (1987).
1888 Unk Cedar Unk Unk Unk 9 died, Reference: Dunn and Miller (1960), NOAA
Oct. Key (1987).
1889 Unk Pensacola Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: NOAA (1987).
1891 Unk Miami Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: NOAA (1987).
1893 Unk cross City Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: NOAA (1987).
1894 Major Key West, 104 Key Unk Unk Unk, Reference: Dunn and Miller (1960), NOAA
Sept. Punta West (1987).
1894 Unk Apalach- Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: NOAA (1987).
1896 Major Pensacola 100 Unk Unk Unk, Reference: Dunn and Miller (1960), NOAA
1896 Major Cedar Unk Unk 10 100 died FL. Reference: Dunn and Miller (1960),
Sept. Key Cedar NOAA (1987).
1896 Unk Punta Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: NOAA (1987). 68 dead-over 2
Oct. Gorda million dollars damage. From west coast across
state to direct hit East-Central FL.
1898 Unk Apalach- Unk Unk 10.8 100 thousand dollars, 12 died. Reference: USWB
Aug. icola Fern- (1898).
1898 Unk Fernan- Unk 28.95 Mar 4 500 thousand dollars. Reference: USWB (1898).
1899 Cat. 2 Carabelle Unk 28.90 3-4 500 thousand dollars, 6 died. Reference: USWB
Aug. (1899). 7 ships wrecked.
Date Name Area af- Peak Min. Max. Damage Death Other Data
fected winds press. surge
MPH Inches feet
1903 Cat. 1 Jupiter, 78 29.46 8-10 500 thousand dollars, 14 died, ship wrecked
Sept. Apalach- near Jupiter. Reference: USWB (1903).
1906 Cat. 2 Pensacola 100 28.29 10 3-4 million dollars, 34 died, Pensacola; 134 total
Sept. died. Reference: USWB (1906).
1906 Cat. 2 Key West, Unk 28.55 Unk 160 thousand dollars, 164 died (railroad work-
Oct. Miami Miami ers), Miami. Reference: USWB (1906)
1909 Cat. 3 Key West Unk 28.36 Unk 1 million dollars, 15 died. Reference: USWB
Oct. Mara- (1906).
1910 Cat. 3 Key West, 125 28.20 15 Key 365 thousand dollars, 30 died. Reference: Tan-
Oct. Fort Sand Key Fort West nehill (1938), Dunn and Miller (1960). This hurri-
Myers Myers cane did a loop in the Gulf of Mexico.
1911 Cat. 1 Pensacola Unk Unk Unk Unk, Reference: USWB (1911).
1915 Cat. 1 Apalach- Unk 29.25 Unk 100 thousand dollar, 21 died, wrecked sponge
Sept. icola vessels. Reference: USWB (1915).
1916 Cat. 2 North- 104 29.31 5 Ft. 1 million dollars, 4 died, crop damage. Refer-
July west FL ence: USWB (1916).
1916 Cat. 2 North- 120 28.76 Unk 100 thousand dollars, tower blown down at
Oct. west FL Pensacola. Reference: USWB (1916).
1917 Cat. 3 Pensacola 125 28.29 7.5 Unk. Reference: USWB (1917) and NWS NHC-31
1919 Cat. 4 Key West 115 Key 27.37 Unk 2 million dollars, more than 600 died, Key West-
Sept. West Dry anemometer destroyed. Reference: USWB
Tortu- (1919), NWS-NHC-31 (1992). 300 of the deaths
gas were in Key West.
1921 Cat. 3 Tarpon 100 Tar- 28.11 10.5 3 million dollars, 6 died, highest surge since
Oct. Springs pon Tarpon Tampa 1848. Reference: USWB (1921). From west coast
Spr. Springs across state to Ponce de Leon Inlet. Indirect hit
1924 Cat. 1 Port St. Unk 29.12 Unk 275 million dollars. Reference: USWB (1924).
1924 Cat. 1 Marco 90 28.80 Unk Unk. Reference: USWB (1924).
1925 Cat. 1 Sarasota, Unk 29.50 Unk 1.6 million dollars, 50 died. Latest storm to
Nov. Tampa strike U.S. Reference: USWB (1925). Only one
hurricane and one tropical storm in 1925.
Date Name Area af- Peak Min. Max. Damage Death Other Data
fected winds Pres. surge
MPH inches feet
1926 Cat. 2 Jupiter, 90 28.80 Unk 3 million dollars. Reference: USWB (1926) and
July Indian, Melbourne Times (Anon., 1926). Direct hit East--
River Central FL.
1926 Cat. 4 Miami, 138 27.61 13.2 1.4 billion dollars (1990), 243 died, FL. Refer-
Sept. Pensacola Miami Miami Miami ence: NHC-31 (1992).
1928 Cat. 2 Stuart, Unk 28.84 Unk 250 thousand dollars, 2 died. Reference: USWB
Aug. Indian, (1928) and Melbourne Times (Anon., 1928).
River Direct hit East-Central FL.
1928 Lake Palm Bch, 100+ 27.43 10-15 26 million dollars (1990), 1836 died. Reference:
Sept. Okee-cho- Lake USWB (1928), NWS NHC-31.
bee Cat. Okee-
1929 Cat. 3 Mara- 150 27.99 9 821 thousand dollars (1990), 3 died, FL. Refer-
Sept. thon, ence: USWB (1929), NWS NHC-31.
---^-- ^~----------- --------^-
1933 Cat. 3 Jupiter 125 27.98 Unk 4 million dollars (1990), 2 died. Reference:
Sept. USWB (1933), NWS NHC-31.
1935 Great Long Key 200-250 26.35 20+ 6 million dollars, 408 died. *First Cat. 5 on
Sept. Labor Record, record to strike U.S., first and only CAT. 5 to
Day in this strike FL. Reference: USWB (1935), NWS NHC-31
Hurricane hemis- and Gray (1949).
Cat. 5* phere.
1935 Yankee Miami 75 28.73 6 5.5 million dollars, 19 died. Reference: USWB
Nov. Hurricane Miami Miami (1935) and Gray (1949).
1936 Cat. 3 Fort 125 28.46 6 200 thousand dollars, 4 died. Reference: USWB
July Walton (1936), NWS NHC-31.
1941 Cat. 2 Miami, 123 28.48 8 700 thousand dollars, 5 died. Reference: USWB
Oct. Carabelle Miami (1941). This hurricane looped in the Atlantic.
1944 Cat. 3 Sarasota 163 28.02 12.3 570,150,000 dollars (1990), 18 died in U.S. Refer-
Oct. Dry Jackson ence: USWB (1944) and Gray (1949).
1945 Cat. 3 Home- 196 28.08 13.7 500,000,000 dollars (1990), 4 died FL. Reference:
Sept. stead Home- USWB (1945).
1946 Cat. 1 Braden- 80 28.95 6 7 million dollars. Reference: USWB (1946).
Date Name Area Af- Peak Min. Max. Damage Death Other Data
fected winds pres. surge
MPH inches feet
1947 Cat. 4 Pompano 155* Hills- 27.76 21.6 704,000,000 dollars (1990), 51 died. Reference:
Sept. Bch boro Clewis- USWB (1947) and Gray (1949). Record, Re-
ton corded Wind Speed, FL to date.
1947 Cat. 1 Cape 95 28.76 Unk 20 million dollars, 1 died. Reference: USWB
Oct. Sable (1947).
1948 Cat. 3 Key West, 122 28.45 19 Ft. 18 million dollars, 3 died. Reference: USWB
Sept. Ever- Canal (1948).
1948 Cat. 3 FL Keys & 100 28.44 6.2 5.5 million dollars. Reference: USWB (1948).
Oct. Home- Home-
1949 Cat. 3 West 153 28.17 24 52 million dollars, 2 died. Reference: USWB
Aug. Palm Bch, Belle (1949).
-- ---^- ------ -----~
1950 Easy Cedar 125 28.29 6.50 3.3 million dollars, 2 died, 38.7 inches rain in
Sept. Cat. 3 Key Yankeetown- Double loop in Gulf of Mexico just
off Cedar Key.
1950 King Miami 150 28.20 19.3 28 million dollars, 3 died. Reference: USWB
Oct. Cat. 3 Clewis- (1950). Indirect hit East-Central FL.
1953 Florence Fort 87 Unk Unk 200 thousand dollars. Reference: USWB (1953).
Sept. Cat.1 Walton
1956 Flossy Fort 98 28.93 6.10 25 million dollars, 15 died. Reference: USWB
Sept. Cat. 1 Walton (1956), Dunn and Miller (1960). Possibly formed
Bch from storm in Pacific. 3 tornadoes in FL.
1960 Donna Som- 180-200 27.46 13 Fla- 1,784,070,000 dollars (1990), 50 died, FL. Refer-
Sept. Cat. 4 brero FL Keys mingo ence: USWB (1960) and NWS NHC-31. Indirect
Key, Fort 13.7 hit East-Central FL.
1964 Cleo Miami, Ft. 138 28.5 6 Almost 600 million dollars (1990), 3 died., 214
Aug. Cat. 2 Lauder- Caribbean. This was a Cape Verde, 'text-book'
dale, E. storm. Reference USWB (1964). Eye, 8 to 16
Coast U.S. miles in diameter near Miami. Tornadoes re-
ported from Davie to Daytona Bch. Indirect hit
Date Name Area af- Peak Min. Max Damage Death Other Data
fected winds pres. surge
MPH inches feet
1964 Dora St. Au- 125 28.52 12 Over one billion dollars (1990), 5 died. Refer-
Sept. Cat. 2 gustine, ence USWB (1964). 10.7 inches rain in Gaines-
North FL ville. Tides over 10 feet at Fernandian Bch.
Rains continued in some areas for 4 days. 18.6
inches of rain at Live Oak; 23.7 inches at Mayo.
1964 Isbell SW, SE, 90 28.47 Unk Small storm spawning many tornadoes in FL, 1
Oct. Cat. 1 Central died. Reference USWB (1964). At least 11 torna-
FL does in SE FL coast. Vegetable crop heavily
1965 Betsy South FL, 165 27.82 9 Over 6.4 billion dollars (1990), 75 died. Very
Sept. Cat.3 Keys, La. erratic course through Atlantic Ocean and FL
Straits. Reference: USWB (1965). The eye of this
hurricane was 40 miles in diameter at one time.
11.8 inches of rain at Plantation Key.
1966 Alma FL Pan- 125, Dry 28.65 10 Nearly 10 million dollars (1990), 8 died, FL.
June Cat. 2 handle, Tortugas Earliest storm, on record to hit U.S. Reference:
SE U.S. USWB (1966). 7.7 inches rain in Miami, 6 Ft. tides
at St Marks.
1966 Inez Cat. South FL, 165, Big 27.38 15.5 Over 5 million dollars (1990), 48 died. Another
Oct. 3 Keys, Pine Key storm with an erratic course. Reference: USWB
1968 Gladys NE FL, 90 28.49 6.5 7 million dollars, FL. Reference: ESSA (1968). 6.6
Oct. Cat.2 Cedar inches rain at Daytona Bch. 5 Ft. tides at
1972 Agnes Port St. 86 28.85 7 6 billion dollars (1990), 122 died, FL. Reference:
June Cat. 1 Joe (NWS NHC-31. More than 1000 mile diameter
circulation. Spawned 15 tornadoes in FL. 8.5
inches rain at Key West. 12.7 inches of rain at
Big Pine Key.
1975 Eloise Mid-way 155 28.20 18 1,081,854,000 dollars (1990), 9 died. Reference:
Sept. Cat. 3 between NWS NHC-31.
Date Name Area af- Peak Min. Max. Damage Death Other Data
fected winds pres. surge
MPH inches feet
1979 David Jupiter, 172 27.28 3-5 487,366,000 dollars (1990), 5 died in U.S., 7 in
Sept. Cat. 2, Indian Puerto Rico, 1,200 in Dominican Republic.
Cat. 4 in River Reference: NWS NHC-31. Direct hit East-Central
Carib- Lagoon, FL as Cat. 2.
bean Vero Bch,
1985 Elena No land- 125 (air- 28.17 8 1,392,693,000 dollars (1990), deaths unknown.
Aug. Cat. 3 fall, craft) Reference: NWS NHC-31. 11.3 inches rain Apala-
Sept. closest chicola. 1 million people were evacuated from
point affected areas. No landfall in FL.
1985 Juan FL, Louisi- 85 28.67 Unk 1,635,000,000 dollars (1990) NWS NHC-31.
Oct. Cat. 1 ana,
1985 Kate Mexico 135 28.14 8 300 million dollars (1990), 5 died. First SE FL
Nov. Cat. 2 Bch, FL warnings since INEZ (1966) on 18th and 19th
and November. Reference, In the Monthly Weather
Panama Review in 1985 and in NHC.
1987 Floyd Key West, 80 29.32 Unk Unk. Reference, Monthly Weather Review
Oct. Cat. 1 Key (1987) and NHC.
1992 Andrew Bahamas, 175 27.23 16.9 15-30 billion dollars (1993), 48 died, most de-
Aug. Cat. 4 S. FL, Miami structive natural disaster in U.S. history. Refer-
Louisiana ence: NOAA, 1993. Third lowest barometric
pressure at landfall in U.S.
Fi 1. e Cc re, ee er, r e C e r e
Figure 1. Home in Coconut Grove, Miami, September, 1926 Hurricane (Courtesy National Hurricane Center).
Building had to be torn down (Courtesy National Hurricane Center).
Building had to be torn down (Courtesy National Hurricane Center).
Figure 3. Sunken boat in Miami, September, 1926 Hurricane. Boat was once owned by the Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany (Cour-
tesy National Hurricane Center).
Figure 4. Damage in Palm Beach, 1928 Hurricane (Courtesy National Hurricane Center).
jll~UlurJIl i p ~q~
Figure 5. Destruction in West Palm Beach, 1928 Hurricane (Courtesy National Hurricane Center).
Figure 6. Tra blown o rac 1935 Great Labor Day Hurricane, Florida Keys (From NewsSun-Senel)
Figure 6. Train blown off track in 1935 Great Labor Day Hurricane, Florida Keys (From News/Sun-Sentinel).
_~; ;- r---------r-- .~-. *ffiI~- -1-I
? -.- "' .'< *
Figure 7. a. (top) Monument to 1935 Hurricane, Islamorada, Florida Keys.
b. Inscription plaque commemorating those who died in the 1935 Hurricane.
Figure 8. Hurricane Donna. Even though Hurricane Donna did not strike Miami, this photograph shows typical damage along un
Dade County shoreline (Courtesy of National Hurricane Center).
Figure 9. Radar of Hurricane Donna (Courtesy of National Hurricane Center).
Figure 10. Track and time of Hurricane Cleo in 1964 (from Dunn and Staff,
ricane Betsy in 1965 (Courtesy of Miami
Figure 12. Record of barometric pressure, Hurricane Betsy in 1965 (Courtesy of National Hurricane Center).
Figure 13. Hurricane David in 1979 in Caribbean (Courtesy of Henry Brandli).
~~ ~ ~_
Figure 14a. Hurricane David in 1979 in Florida (Courtesy of Henry Brandli).
Figure 14b. Hurricane David track (From collection belonging to John M.
Figure 15. Hurricane Elena (1985) damage (From Clark, 1986a).
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Figure 16a. Hurricane Juan (1985) damage (From Clark, 1986a).