AYY I I
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A day in the life of a T.V. weatherman...
As the first rays of daylight break through the trees, George hears the call
to hot chocolate and toast for his two teenagers, Frank and Steve. Peering
out the window, he notes the movement of the fragmented cumulus clouds,
checking for any changes that may have developed from yesterday's pattern.
A half hour later, nine-year-old Wendy Gale joins him and his wife, Virginia,
for breakfast. Steve is checking the sports page for the Atlanta Braves'score
while Frank finishes combing his hair. Shortly, Wendy and the boys have left
for school, Virginia relates her rounds for the day, and George picks up
some packets of weather maps for the fifth-grade classes he will address
A little over an hour later, George films a pine tree that was blown over
a garage in last night's thunderstorm. Arriving at the TV station, he pro-
ceeds to clear the weather machines of a dozen weather maps and a few
thousand weather reports that came in during the night. He tries to answer
the phone calls from people wanting to know the weather, but he has less
than two hours to analyze the maps and reports, paint and draw his weath-
er maps, prepare his film, make a forecast slide, and coordinate his weath-
er with the rest of the Midday program.
After Midday, a new set of maps and research and filming go into the pro-
duction of the six o'clock weathercast.
Finally home for supper, George learns from Virginia that Frank pitched for
13 innings today in a 15-inning game. Wendy is in her room watching "I
Dream of Jeannie" while Steve's cornet blares "Superstar" from the back
bedroom. A few hours later when homework is done and most lights are
out, George scans the weather journals, watches Win Jervis' 11 o'clock
weather report, and finally, places one more day in the weather history of
Copyright 1972 George Winterling / WJXT / Jacksonville, Florida
,^j11^ WEATHER GUIDE
0 Jacksonville Sesquicentennial
is not known for its severity, abrupt changes, or extremes. While other
sections of the country are noted for blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes,
and floods, Jacksonville's history has been one of moderation . so much
so, that noteworthy weather for this city is common or unnoticed in other
HURRICANES are among the greatest threats, since nearby tropical oceans
provide fuel sufficient to propel winds of 150 m.p.h. or higher. Steering
currents and geographical position, however, favor Jacksonville with the dis-
tinction of experiencing fewer hurricanes over the centuries than any other
coastal Florida city.
TORNADOES occasionally dip from either menacing summer thundershowers
or a brisk winter or early spring squall line. Again, Jacksonville is favored
with experiencing an inferior breed of twisters, so that most substantial
structures are not leveled as in places a few hundred miles to the west or
FLOODS can hit low areas or sections with poor drainage when fronts,
thunderstorms, or northeasters drop torrents of water in a matter of a few
hours; but northeast Florida terrain and the St. Johns River are situated so
that flood waters here are considered minor when compared with those in
more mountainous places.
FREEZES are infrequent, but threaten subtropical plants and trees that sur-
vive the milder winters. The moderating effect of the Atlantic ocean makes
most freezes of short duration.
A history of noteworthy weather events around Jacksonville can be found
Four hundred years ago,
Jacksonville's sky and wind belonged to a people described as a "tall,
well-made people, almost entirely naked, except for a breech-cloth,
their bodies covered with elaborate tatooing."
This was the land of the TIMUQUAN INDIANS. The river, now known as St.
Johns, was the source of their fish and oysters; the forests, their game; the
fields, their wild fruits and 'coonti', a root from a fern-like plant from
which they made bread.
VJ -7 ?-?x4
In the 1560's, the French under Jean Ribault settled on the banksof the St.
Johns River at Fort Caroline. An attack on the Spanish near St. Augustine
turned to disaster for the French because of a storm, possibly a hurricane;
thus, early Florida history was Spanish, instead of French, because of north-
east Florida weather.
The word, HURRICANE, is attributed to the Indians which the Spaniards en-
countered in Cuba. Their name for the violent windstorms that swept their
land and flooded their fields was "huraca'n".
AFTER 1700, Spanish power declined and native Indians dwindled as the
Creeks and Seminoles came to Florida. In 1740, the Spanish built a fort at
a river crossing where Jacksonville is located. This part of the river was
called "Wacca Pilatka" by the Indians, meaning "cows crossing over".
The settlement, Cowford, was developed under British ownership around the
time of the American Revolution. A freak snowstorm1 was reported to have
extended over most of Florida about this time (1774) of which there is very
JACKSONVILLE was named in 1822.
FIRST TEMPERATURE RECORDS were made by Judge F. Bethune from June
1829 through August 1833 at a plantation about five miles south of the
city. Dr. A. S. Baldwin recorded Jacksonville weather for 34 years beginning
in January 1838, except for interruptions during the Indian Wars (1841-43)
and the Civil War (1862-66). Jacksonville's FIRST RAINFALL RECORDS were
started by Dr. Baldwin in 1851.
The ARMY SIGNAL SERVICE started making official weather reports for Jack-
sonville in 1871. Twenty years later, the Weather Bureau was established
under the Department of Agriculture.
In April 1895, A. J. MITCHELL took over the Jacksonville Weather Bureau, a
job he kept until 1932 when a government economy move made retirement
compulsory. His career spanned some of Jacksonville's most memorable
In 1899, Mitchell predicted snow for Jacksonville on February 13. He said
afterward, "but I didn't expect three inches of it. It fell during the night
and was all over town the next morning."
Eight years later he predicted afternoon showers, but something extra was
added. "The hailstones were as big as hen's eggs," said Mitchell. "I saw
them . and I felt two or three bounce off my head. Pelted horses ran
away. Hail stood on the street for 24 hours. For days it was banked in
About this time (1907), Jacksonville historian and climatologist, T. FREDER-
ICK DAVIS, was compiling "Climatology of Jacksonville and Vicinity". This
book has helped preserve records of weather during Jacksonville's earliest
days. Davis was the grandfather of WJXT's Meteorologist WIN JERVIS.
1. From a paper read by Major George R. Fairbanks before the Florida State Horticultural
Society, May 8, 1895.
2. Weather Records were started in 1870 by the Signal Service in Lake City.
In 1932, WALTER J. BENNETT became Chief of the Jacksonville Weather
Bureau. Bennett, father of Congressman Charles E. Bennett, compiled "The
Story of Weather, Jacksonville, Florida". This account of Jacksonville's
weather history included facts from the Davis research, other data from
early records, and added accounts of later happenings through 1951. This
covered the active "hurricane years" of the 1930's and 1940's.
A separate Weather Bureau office was opened in 1930 at Imeson Airport
with ROLAND L. ANDERSON in charge. Anderson later took over the down-
town office after Bennett's retirement in 1949.
With the closing of the city office in 1956, the Weather Bureau Airport Sta-
tion, under ROGER G. PLASTER since 1946, became the center of weather
activity, not only for Jacksonville, but for parts of other southeastern states.
This was an Aviation Weather Forecast Center and an Upper Air (Radio-
In 1957, GEORGE WINTERLING began five years of service at Imeson airport;
while three years later, WIN JERVIS joined the Weather Bureau staff.
The Radiosonde activities moved to Waycross, Georgia in 1967, where a
new 250 mile range radar installation was built. DOW E. BOYKIN, formerly
with the Jacksonville office, was placed in charge.
The same year saw BILL HILLIG leave the Weather Bureau to work for
WFGA (Channel 12), while WIN JERVIS returned from Navy duty to join
GEORGE WINTERLING at WJXT.
originally from New Jersey, has lived in Jacksonville since he was ten
years old. A graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, he attended
Jacksonville University and received his Bachelor of Science degree in mete-
orology from Florida State University.
He served four years in the United States Air Force, where he led his class
at the Weather Observers course at Chanute Field, Illinois; and he was sec-
ond from the top in the Intermediate Meteorological School at Oklahoma
State University. He was assigned as a weather forecaster in the Aleutian
After serving with the Weather Bureau for five years, one of which as Qual-
ity Control Officer for weather briefings at Federal Aviation Administration
stations from Florida to South Carolina, George joined WJXT in 1962.
He was granted the American Meteorological Society Seal of Approval for
his weathercasts, as judged by a national Board for informational content,
educational value, audience interest, and professional qualities. He has
served as Director of the Jacksonville Weather Watchers, President of the
Northeast Florida Branch of the American Meteorological Society, and was
appointed to the Board of Radio and Television Weathercasting in 1969.
Everyone talks about the weather:
man has tried to understand it for centuries. Most of his cities have
been built near water; thus, man has wondered how the water affects
THE RIVER AND THE WEATHER
The northward flowing St. Johns River and its relation to the Atlantic ocean
has a counterpart in Egypt. As early as 600 B.C., the effect of the weather
on the Nile was a subject of much discussion. Thales, one of the Seven
Wise Men of Greece, described how northerly winds at certain seasons hin-
dered the outflow of the river into the Mediterranean, causing it to spill be-
yond its banks. Jacksonville's St. Johns River experiences a similar annual
high tide, though not as extreme, with northeast winds between September
About 150 years after Thales, Democritus described how vapors in the at-
mosphere after the winter snows had melted, were carried by winds up-
stream where they produced rains. These rains added water to the Nile,
whose outflow was reduced by the north winds.
Rainfall plays a part in the rising of the St. Johns, too. Tributaries of the
St. Johns, such as Black Creek and Cedar Creek, experience higher waters
when heavy rains combine with northeast winds to raise the level of the
water by several feet.
Through the years, many residents have believed the St. Johns directs the
path of summer showers or thundershowers, and in one instance a hurri-
cane. Hurricanes are so large that the atmospheric environment, the Atlan-
tic ocean, and the continental land mass are the main factors controlling
Showers or thundershowers may respond slightly to the river, since it some-
times contributes a modified thermal, moisture, or wind pattern to towering
clouds in its vicinity. The fact that showers are by nature a very transient
part of cloud development makes it very difficult to ascertain whether
changes near the river are caused by the river, or are part of the normal
variations in cloud development and dissipation.
The distance of the river from the ocean gives it the appearance of being
responsible for a different weather regime on the west side than to the
east. This is because on days with a summer seabreeze, there are many
times when the ocean air does not pass over enough heated land to devel-
op showers until it has reached a point 15 or 20 miles inland from the
coast; thus, showers fall mainly west of the river (city).
It is the summer seabreeze that causes the beaches to often go for weeks
without rain, while west Jacksonville never seems to go dry. The beaches
do get rain when upper winds blow from the west, causing the inland
showers or thundershowers to spread to the coast.
In winter, a local effect of the river is the addition of heat to the air dur-
ing cold outbreaks. The side of the river experiencing the warming effect
depends on the direction of the wind. Since most cold waves arrive on
northwest winds, the orange-producing Mandarin section is benefited by the
addition of a few degrees to the icy wind. When the wind is north to north-
east, riverfronts at places such as Ortega and Orange Park receive these
few extra degrees.
This heating of the air, however, is limited to the immediate vicinity of the
river, since cold waves extend thousands of feet into the atmosphere. The
severity of the cold wave returns a mile or so away from the river.
Another source of heat to the winter atmosphere is that from buildings, in-
dustry, and other energy-producing sources of the city. This is responsible
for a local weather pattern known as the "urban heat island". This is an
area of relatively warmer air in the city surrounded by the general cold
winter environment. Since this "heat island" is merely "air", wind direc-
tions in the lower atmosphere determine whether it remains over the cen-
tral city, or whether it is displaced toward one or more suburbs.
While this air may be as much as five degrees warmer than outlying areas,
it also contains a higher concentration of air pollution from such things as
chimneys, smoke stacks, and engine exhausts. Since most cold air sweeps in
from a northerly direction, northern sections of the city will have cleaner
air; but being upwind of the "heat island" will have colder temperatures.
THE BEACHES AND THE OCEAN
Weather at the beaches is often about the same as that in the city . but
there are times when it is quite different. It is the wind direction that usu-
ally determines the difference.
With a WEST WIND (offshore wind), temperatures and weather are basically
the same as in the city. Of course, a local thunderstorm can cause weather
to differ anywhere. But as a rule, summer days will be as hot as, maybe a
degree or two hotter than, the city; and winter temperatures will be about
as warm or cold at the beaches as it is inland.
WEST WIND EAST WIND
NOT SO COLD IN WINTER
HOT IN SUMMER OR HOT IN SUMMER
COLD IN WINTER
A difference in weather can occur with an EAST WIND (onshore wind). The
effect of the ocean is a moderating one, so that summer days will not be
as hot as in the city, and winter nights won't be as cold as in town. Winter
days can be five to 10 degrees colder at the beach, since the winter sun
cannot heat the ocean like it warms the city.
Once in a while, the ocean wind can cause a foggy or rainy day at the
beaches while ten miles inland the weather is clear. On the other hand,
the seabreeze causes many clear summer days at the beach at the same time
the city may be cloudy with afternoon showers or thundershowers.
When the air is muggy and the wind light with showers developing, a phe-
nomenon called a WATERSPOUT may develop over coastal (or even inland)
waters. This has the appearance of a tornado; it has winds spinning as high
as 150 to 200 miles per hour. If the clouds are drifting toward shore, the
whirlwind may cross the beach; however, most dissipate within a few hun-
dred yards inland.
The greatest weather hazard to the beaches is the hurricane. The fact that
northeast Florida usually experiences glancing blows from storms passing
offshore, or is hit by less than full force hurricanes that have weakened
downstate is no reason to assume the beaches cannot experience a severe
Since most people killed by hurricanes die by drowning, it is most impor-
tant that low-lying and coastal areas be evacuated before any severe hurri-
cane strikes. To gamble that a storm will miss is to BET YOUR LIFE. Wind
driven tides can surge more than 10 feet above normal, undermining sand
dunes and many structures that line our shore.
While one side of a hurricane causes abnormally high tides, the other side of
the storm blows offshore, causing a drop in the water level. Hurricane fore-
casting is not yet precise enough to pinpoint which ocean communities will
have the disastrous high water and which will have low water. For this rea-
son, it is best to assume that any severe hurricane whose eye is predicted to
pass within 100 miles can cause these deadly tides, and prepare accordingly.
Jacksonville's worst hurricane
Hurricane Dora, was the first full force hurricane to strike the north-
east Florida coast since weather records began in 1871. This is how
WJXT weather reports prepared the area for the storm which followed an-
other hurricane, Cleo, by only ten days.
Friday, August 28, 1964
The eye of a former hurricane named Cleo passed over Jacksonville Beach
with winds of 50 m.p.h., one day after hitting Miami with 135 m.p.h. gusts.
Monday, August 31, 1964
WJXT Meteorologist George Winterling points out that Jacksonville's greatest
danger would be from a hurricane coming in from the east.
Tuesday, September 1, 1964
A storm named DORA is spawned in the tropical Atlantic heading toward
Monday, September 7, 1964
Another hurricane, named ETHEL, helps turn DORA toward the mainland.
WJXT predicts winds could reach 100 m.p.h. in Jacksonville Wednesday.
Tuesday, September 8, 1964
WJXT interrupts regular programming to broadcast hurricane bulletins and
other information. George Winterling reports the storm is on a track toward
Wednesday, September 9, 1964
DORA turns toward St. Augustine, but slows down to give coastal residents
a few more hours of preparation. After making a feeble attempt to remain
over warm Gulf stream waters offshore, DORA moves across the coast un-
der cover of darkness.
v. 3jacksonvic journal j
HURRICANE DORA RIPS I
DUVAL COUNTY 7F
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DATA ON DORA
DORA was steered by an unusual persistence of tropical easterly winds at a
latitude usually occupied by the Bermuda high. At the surface, a large high
over the middle Atlantic coast blocked any northward trend, while in the
upper atmosphere the prevailing westerlies, which could have turned the
storm out to sea, flowed along the Canadian border. The easterly current
prevailed for an exceptional duration of four days to steer DORA on a
course perpendicular to the tracks of most storms in this latitude.
September 7, 1964 September 8, 1964
'- - ----
SEPTEMBER 8-12, 1964
Lowest Fastest Highest Rainfall
Station Pressure Wind Gust Total
Jacksonville Arpt 29.05 N 82 85* 8.67
Jacksonville NAS 28.87 N 53 81 -
Jacksonville Cecil Fid 28.91 NE 44 71 -
Fernandina Beach 29.28 N 100 115 -
Mayport 29.03 NNE 74 101 -
St. Augustine 28.52 SW 125* 7.10
Marineland 28.80 NW 60+ 5.85
Gainesville 29.08 -
Live Oak 18.62
Brunswick 29.40 NE 90* 6.23
Jesup E 50 5.81
There was adequate preparation for DORA in northeast Florida and
southeast Georgia because of years of planning and preparation for
such a disaster. Among those involved were the Weather Bureau, Civil De-
fense, American Red Cross, officials of many cities and counties including
Jacksonville and Duval, the news media and many broadcasters, and many
Among those to whom we are indepted are those who flew out to "look
the monster in the eye". While Weather Bureau and Air Force planes also
monitor tropical blows over nearby waters, the men of the Navy's Early
Warning Squadron VW-4, better known as the "Hurricane Hunters," have
earned a special place in the history of Jacksonville.
Many "Connies", bulging with equipment, have come and gone from Jack-
sonville Naval Air Station; for those who track hurricanes, they "tell it like
Hurricanes affecting northeast Florida
It may be misleading to call this a "hurricane history" since by defi-
nition a "hurricane" is a tropical cyclone with sustained winds of
74 m.p.h. or higher. While many storms hitting Jacksonville were of hurri-
cane force in some other section of the state, most are less than a hurricane
by the time they reach northeast Florida.
September 10, 1565
The French Captain, Jean Ribault, attempted to take St. Augustine from the
Spanish who had just settled there. Waiting for high tide to permit his ships
WJXT HURRICAN'.E !RAlKiNG CHART
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to enter the harbor, he was driven southward by a strong north northeast
wind and heavy seas. His ships were wrecked on the coast below St.
September 8, 1854
A severe Atlantic hurricane passed inland between Jacksonville and Savan-
nah, but much nearer Savannah, where there was great destruction of
September 8-11, 1878
Northeast gales prevailed on these dates in connection with a hurricane in
the Atlantic. Lowest barometer was 29.19 on the 11th, when the river
backed up and came in the streets.
August 27, 1881
A hurricane from the Atlantic went in near Savannah causing great property
loss and 335 deaths.
August 27, 1893
A hurricane in the Atlantic passed east of Jacksonville going in near Savan-
nah. Jacksonville barometer was 29.04 inches. At Mayport 9 cottages blew
down. All wires down and railroad traffic suspended.
Georgia and South Carolina coasts devastated. A tremendous wave sub-
merged the islands near Savannah and Charleston; at least 1,000 lives lost;
property damage $10,000,000. The ravage at Charleston was reported as
terrific, "Hundreds of corpses were strewn among farms, unknown except to
the vultures which flocked about them. Whole families were wiped out in
some places. The coroner has sworn in an army of deputies and these are
hunting for the dead."
October 12, 1893
Not so much damage for Jacksonville, but Mayport suffered severely.
September 22, 1894
A storm came across the state entering the Atlantic near Daytona. Jackson-
ville barometer was 29.27, wind 41 m.p.h. The St. Johns River was 3 feet
above normal at high tide. Brick work at the new Union Station was blown
down. Damage in the city was placed between 30 and 40 thousand dollars.
Great damage was done at Mayport, Pablo Beach and St. Augustine.
October 9, 1894
Winds up to 56 m.p.h.; barometer 29.29 inches.
September 29, 1896
A storm from the Gulf came across Columbia, Baker and Nassau counties,
causing winds up to 76 m.p.h. in Jacksonville, the highest wind until DORA
October 2, 1898
Hurricane center went inland near Brunswick. Ten million dollars damage;
179 drowned in Georgia. Fernandina tide was 10.8 feet.
This hurricane made a loop around the western end of Cuba, then headed
north, passing about 30 miles west of Jacksonville. Lowest barometer was
29.09, wind 51 m.p.h. Much flooding was reported from a very high tide.
September 18, 1928
The great Palm Beach-Okeechobee storm passed just west of Jacksonville
causing the lowest barometer on record for the city . 28.90 inches. Winds
were 48 m.p.h. Damage to the city $10,000; the county $25,000. Trees were
uprooted; much damage at the beach.
September 4-5, 1933
Little damage, except the wind drove the St. Johns River over bulkheads in
Riverside up to two blocks from the river.
October 19, 1944
The center of a tropical storm moving northward passed a short distance
west of Jacksonville. The lowest barometer was 28.94, the lowest on record
for October. Forty-six mile an hour winds subsided from 12:30 P.M. to 4
P.M. due to a large eye which extended from near Jacksonville to Gaines-
ville. Many large trees and branches were blown down; WJHP radio tower
went down; some plate glass windows blown in. Tides were very high. Jack-
sonville area damage set between $100-200,000. One life was lost by
September 18, 1945
A tropical storm passed east of the city. Barometer 29.41; gusts at the air-
port to 60 m.p.h.; rainfall total 6.74 inches.
October 8, 1946
The center of a tropical storm passed west of the city. Barometer 29.21
inches; wind only 33 m.p.h. Some houseboats and small riverfront buildings
August 27, 1949
A tropical storm from the Gulf passed west of the city causing considerable
damage to trees, wires, etc. Barometer 29.58 inches; wind gusts to 85 m.p.h.
September 6-7, 1950
A tropical storm entered the coast near Cedar Key, moved south southeast
on a curving path north of Lakeland to Clermont, Eustis, Camp Blanding
and Glen St. Mary. Jacksonville barometer-29.47 inches; wind-52 m.p.h.,
October 18, 1950
A hurricane which entered the coast at Miami passed between Jacksonville
and Lake City. Jacksonville barometer-29.43 inches; wind-72 m.p.h. with
gusts to 85 m.p.h.
This storm did more damage to Jacksonville and the surrounding area than
any previous storm. Damage to Duval county placed at well over a million
dollars, of which half a million was for the Beach municipalities. Public
utilities, telephone and electric wires suffered severely, many streets were
washed out, much damage to trees and roofing.
September 10-11, 1960
Hurricane DONNA came up the state moving into the Atlantic between
Daytona Beach and St. Augustine. The center passed 45 miles southeast of
Jacksonville about 8:20 A.M. Several large oaks were blown down in St.
Augustine. Damage in Jacksonville mostly limited to billboards, poles, wires,
and trees. There were four roofs reported lost by homes in the city. Approx-
imately 100 homes showed minor damage. Highest winds were 67 m.p.h.
at Jacksonville airport, 75 m.p.h. at Jacksonville Beach.
August 27-28, 1964
Hurricane CLEO hit Miami with wind gusts to 135 m.p.h. causing millions
of dollars of damage. This was the first hurricane to hit Miami since 1950.
CLEO moved up the state with the center remaining a few miles inland,
causing the storm to lose most of her force before reaching northeast Flor-
ida. The eye passed over Jacksonville Beach shortly after noon of the 28th.
Highest winds were 50 m.p.h. in gusts at Jacksonville Beach, 43 m.p.h. at
September 9-10, 1964
JACKSONVILLE'S FIRST FULL FORCE HURRICANE moved in from the Atlantic
on the night of September 9. The eye passed over St. Augustine shortly
after midnight followed by winds up to 125 m.p.h. from the southwest. The
tide at Anastasia Island was 12 ft. above normal ... 4 ft. higher than any
others known. Jacksonville's highest sustained wind was 82 m.p.h. with gusts
estimated to 85 m.p.h. Squall damage in some parts of the city gave evi-
dence of 100 m.p.h. winds. The St. Johns River rose about 5 feet above
normal, flooding many low sections of the city.
Damage to northeast Florida was estimated about 200 million dollars. The
storm caused over 90% of the city to be without power, some sections go-
ing without electricity for over a week.
June 6, 1968
Rainfall from tropical storm ABBY was 6.02 inches. Jacksonville Beach had
a wind gust of 71 m.p.h. as the storm moved up the coast from Melbourne
to southeast Georgia.
October 18-19, 1968
Jacksonville Beach had a wind to 74 m.p.h. and a barometer of 29.34 in-
ches as hurricane GLADYS crossed the Florida peninsula through Ocala and
St. Augustine into the Atlantic.
Questions about hurricanes
WHAT CAUSES HURRICANES?
While all of the factors are not fully understood, heat and moisture, most
abundant over tropical oceans between June and November, contribute
most to the development of hurricanes. A failure of sufficient wind currents
to carry the earth's surplus heat away from the tropical regions, causes a
heat built-up which, when combined with a cyclonic inflow topped with an
upper level outflow or "chimney effect", results in a hurricane.
WHY DO HURRICANES WEAKEN OVER LAND?
As long as a hurricane is over warm ocean waters, heat is being added to
the storm. Over land the rains produce a cool surface, and the lack of heat
energy causes the storm to diminish.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HURRICANE AND A TORNADO?
A hurricane is an immense storm covering hundreds of miles and often
lasting more than a week. A tornado is a small, localized windstorm, often
only a few hundred yards wide, very destructive where it hits, but usually
lasting less than an hour. Tornadoes have accompanied hurricanes when
they pass over land.
WHAT MAKES HURRICANES SO UNPREDICTABLE?
The hurricane "floats" in the atmosphere where there are many currents
and cross-currents. In addition, there are varying forces changing or at-
temping to change these wind currents by the hour. Even weather disturb-
ances on the other side of the world may affect the track of the storm, de-
pending on their relation to the world-wide circulation pattern.
HOW MANY HURRICANES NORMALLY DEVELOP EACH YEAR?
The average number of hurricanes in the Atlantic is eight a year. The Pa-
cific Ocean averages twenty-eight. During the past 75 years, the most At-
lantic storms in one year was 21 in 1933.
HOW SMALL CAN A HURRICANE BE?
The severe hurricane which hit Miami in October 1950 had destructive
winds in an area only 14 miles wide. One of the most violent hurricanes
on record, the Labor Day storm of 1935, had fierce winds in an area only
40 miles in diameter. It killed 408 people in Florida.
WHAT IS THE HIGHEST WIND FROM A HURRICANE?
The highest measured wind is 186 m.p.h. in the New England hurricane of
1938. Hurricane Camille's winds were estimated near 200 m.p.h. on the
Mississippi coast in 1969.
WHAT IS THE LOWEST BAROMETER READING RECORDED?
On September 2, 1935, the pressure dropped to 26.35 inches at Long Key,
Florida. In the western Pacific, it dropped to 25.91 during hurricane Ida.
For every inch drop in pressure, the atmosphere releases a force of 70
pounds off of each square foot of surface. The level of the ocean rises one
foot for each inch drop in atmospheric pressure.
HOW FAST DOES A HURRICANE MOVE ALONG ITS TRACK?
The forward progress of a hurricane may change at any time, causing a
storm to sometimes hit several hours earlier than expected, or it may slow
or stall so as to pose a threat for many hours or even days. The average
speed of a hurricane is 12 m.p.h. This speed often increases as the storm
moves out of tropical waters.
HOW MUCH RAINFALL ACCOMPANIES A HURRICANE?
An average hurricane will drop from three to six inches of rain, but amounts
may be much higher than these, depending on the forward progress of the
storm. A slow moving or stationary storm may cause phenomenal rains.
DO HURRICANES PRODUCE TIDAL WAVES?
The force of hurricane winds over large bodies of water, such as the ocean
and lakes or rivers, causes changes in water level that are as sudden and
devastating as a tidal wave. People who boast of remaining on the coastal
property have rarely seen it; most of those who have, are not alive to re-
late it. The Gulf of Mexico rose 24.6 feet at Pass Christian, Mississippi with
hurricane Camille with a death toll of only 143, due to timely warnings. In
less fortunate years, 1,836 were killed in 1928 when Lake Okeechobee was
swept over land; in 1900, 6,000 died when Galveston was submerged in
the storm surge.
HOW CAN I KNOW WHERE THE CENTER OF THE STORM IS?
Weather bulletins and advisories give the latest official word on the storms.
When electrical power fails, battery powered radios are an essential. Offi-
cial reports are constantly being up-dated as the progress of the storm is
reported. Weather enthusiasts can tell something of the eye position by not-
ing the wind direction and velocity and by observing the barometer. By re-
membering that winds blow counterclockwise around the eye of the storm
and that the lowest barometer reading is in the eye, observation of these
conditions give a clue to the latest position of the center of the storm.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I AM IN THE EYE OF A HURRICANE?
High winds will subside to 10 m.p.h. or less and rains will cease. The air
will be warm and muggy and the sky will brighten in the daytime, or stars
may be seen at night. Within the next hour or so, and possibly within min-
utes, the full fury of the storm will return from another direction.
DOES A RISING BAROMETER MEAN THE STORM IS MOVING AWAY?
Yes, but it may take many hours for winds to subside, depending on the
size of the storm and other weather factors that may affect your area. A
slow moving storm could double back, although this is usually unlikely.
WHAT CAUSES HURRICANES TO TURN AND MISS FLORIDA AND GEORGIA?
Wind currents and atmospheric pressures are always changing- These
changes affect the track of the hurricane, particularly when it reaches the
western edge of the Bermuda high, just off the Florida east coast. If there
is a front with an associated low pressure trough over the eastern U.S., the
hurricane will tend to turn northward away from Florida.
WHY DO HURRICANES STALL OR BECOME ERRATIC?
When hurricanes move into the region between the easterlies to the south
and the westerlies to the north, they are easily blocked by large high pres-
sure areas which settle off the middle Atlantic coast. The area between lat-
itudes 250 and 320 is normally a region of high pressure with weak or
variable steering currents.
WHY DO SOME HURRICANES MOVE SOUTHWARD?
When a large high pressure area which blocks the northward movement in-
tensifies, the hurricane can be forced southward, such as Betsy in the Ba-
hamas in 1965. In 1969, five storms were forced southward during part of
their track, three of which were dissipated by the cooler/drier air injected
by the high pressure system.
CAN HURRICANES BE CONTROLLED BY SEEDING?
This is a complex experiment being undertaken by Project Stormfury. An
experiment with hurricane Debbie in 1969 showed a decrease of wind
speed by 15 to 31% after seeding. If further repetition of this experiment
achieves similar results, a major breakthrough in weather modification has
HOW LONG DOES A HURRICANE LAST?
As long as the storm remains over warm tropical waters, it may last for
weeks. The average duration is nine days with a track of 3,000 miles. Some
hurricanes have lasted for three weeks and traveled 10,000 miles. Hurri-
cane Inga is the longest lived storm of record spending 25 days, from Sep-
tember 20 to October 14, 1969, inside a relatively small area with a radius
of less than 700 miles.
ARE THERE HURRICANE CYCLES?
Each hurricane season is different and depends largely on weather patterns
and energy levels affecting the earth and atmosphere for that season. Look-
ing at the averages over five to ten year periods, however, hurricanes were
on the decrease from 1900 to 1920, followed by an increasing number of
storms in the 1930's and 1940's. A decrease during the late 1950's was
followed by a sharp increase in 1964 and again in 1969.
Why the weather.
The cause of such things as wind, rain, warm and cold weather
can be traced to the sun. The varying degrees of heat and its
distribution around the globe causes the atmosphere to behave in such a
way that some changes can be predicted. This is why we can usually fore-
cast the weather.
When air remains over a certain portion of the earth for a period of time,
it acquires characteristics of that region; thus, a mass of air over polar or
arctic areas becomes a COLD AIR MASS. Likewise, air over the sun-drenched
tropics becomes a WARM AIR MASS.
Where these air masses move is determined largely by a belt of winds which
circles the earth at temperate latitudes called the "prevailing westerlies". In
these westerlies are belts of high wind knows as JET STREAMS. The jet
stream is like a swift channel in a broad flowing river. These winds are of-
ten up to 200 m.p.h. and usually occur between 20,000 and 40,000 feet
The jet stream is strongest over the northern hemisphere in winter; in sum-
mer, it is farther north with lesser velocities. The temperature differential be-
tween the polar cold and the tropical heat is the force behind the jet stream.
When the prevailing westerlies dip southward, they usually cause cold out-
breaks to occur; when they shift northward, a warm spell or heat wave may
The line which separates cold air from warm air is called a FRONT. If the
cold air is advancing, it is a COLD FRONT; if the warm air is advancing, it
is a WARM FRONT; if neither air mass is moving, it is a STATIONARY FRONT.
by nighttime cooling, under clear skies with little or no wind, it is called
.. ... ...
RADIATION FOG because it is formed by traditional cooling. If it is only a
Fog is simply a cloud resting on the ground. It forms when the air cools
down to its condensation temperature or DEW POINT. When this is caused
by nighttime cooling, under clear skies with little or no wind, it is called
RADIATION FOG because it is formed by radiational cooling. If it is only a
few feet deep or in layers resting on the ground, this radiation fog is called
Fog also can form when warm moist air is cooled by passing over colder
land or water. Since this is caused by movement of air, it is called ADVEC-
TION FOG. When nearby coastal waters are colder than the dew point, a
SEA FOG can drift in from the coast, sometimes during the afternoon.
Many of our fogs are a combination of daytime seabreeze and nighttime
cooling; thus, they are called ADVECTION-RADIATION FOGS.
Rain can sometimes cause fog by adding so much moisture to the air that
it becomes saturated.
Frost is formed when water vapor in the air freezes on objects, usually
grass or vegetation. The temperature of the air (given in weather reports)
may be above freezing, even as high as 40 degrees; but the object on which
the frost forms is 32 degrees or colder.
Jacksonville has never had a winter without frost, as the following shows:
Earliest date October 17,1901
Average date December 8
Latest date January 10, 1932
Earliest date February 2, 1948
Average date February 16
Latest date April 10, 1916
Snow is similar to frost, except it forms in the air well above the freezing
level. The snowflakes begin to melt if they fall below this level.
Snow is rare in north Florida and south Georgia because when snow is
formed in the upper atmosphere, the lower atmosphere is usually too warm
for the snow to reach the ground without melting. When temperatures in
the lower atmosphere are cold enough, the upper atmosphere is usually
clear and dry; thus, no snow.
Jacksonville has had snow covering the ground twice in the past 100 years.
On February 13, 1899 nearly 2 inches (1.9) were on the ground; on the
same date, February 13, in 1958 it was up to one and a half inches deep.
St. Augustine and the Crescent City area were blanketed with a two inch
snowfall on February 2-3, 1951.
The heaviest snow ever measured in Florida was five inches on January 11,
1800 by surveyor Andrew Ellicott along the St. Marys River on the Georgia-
A freak of nature caused a SNOWSTORM to extend over most of Florida in
1774, of which there is very little recorded. The inhabitants long afterwards
spoke of it as an "extraordinary white rain."
.^ dC C..
Tornadoes are the most violent and destructive phenomena produced by the
atmosphere. Winds have been estimated from 200 to 500 m.p.h. in these
vicious whirlwinds. An extremely low pressure in the center of the tornado
causes an explosive effect on buildings in its path.
LD JET STREAM
Tornadoes sometimes develop in association with thunderstorms in the
warm, humid air in advance of a cold front. There is often a high level jet
stream shooting cold air into a region which has been dominated by warm
A TORNADO WATCH is issued when atmospheric conditions are such that a
tornado can develop.
A TORNADO WARNING is put out when a tornado has been sighted.
Tornadoes are so isolated and strike so suddenly, often the first warning is
a loud roaring of the wind, usually with thunder or lightning in the area.
Since most Florida buildings don't have basements, the interior of a build-
ing, in a hall or under heavy furniture are places for cover should one strike.
Many are reported to hit mobile homes, but a number of these strikes are
50 to 100 m.p.h. wind squalls from thunderstorms that leave a trail of de-
struction similar to that of a tornado.
SHOWERS AND THUNDERSHOWERS
Showers and thundershowers develop under certain conditions when warm,
moist air is lifted in an atmospheric environment which is either "unstable"
or "conditionally unstable".
When air is lifted, whether by daytime heating, or by the lifting action of
converging winds or a front, heat is released when invisible water vapor
condenses into visible water droplets we see as clouds. If this air continues
to rise, and sufficient moisture is present, the cloud can extend high enough
into the atmosphere to produce rain drops.
EZING LI4 F j
Rain drops are formed, in most cases, well above the freezing level where
ice crystals begin to form. The super-cooled water droplets are attracted to
the ice crystals, forming rain drops.
Over ocean waters, particularly in tropical regions, rain drops are formed
without ice crystals. It is believed that salt, or some other particles, like
dust, play a part in rain drop formation here.
High above the freezing level in larger showers or thundershowers, snow
may be produced; but this usually melts long before reaching the ground
as rain. In thundershowers that have intense updrafts, the mixture of rain
and ice crystals (or snow) is carried upward and refrozen several times.
When this "ice" becomes too heavy to remain aloft, it falls as HAIL.
Thunder is the sound produced when a large spark of electricity ignites in
the atmosphere. The flash that is seen is called LIGHTNING. Electricity with-
in large shower clouds, between clouds, and between the ground and clouds
will discharge when moisture in the insulating air and/or the difference in
charges reach a point where the charges can no longer stay apart. The re-
sulting spark, lightning, is seen almost instantly, but it takes five seconds for
the sound, thunder, to travel one mile.
If thunder is heard 15 seconds after the lightning is seen, you know that
the lightning struck three miles away.
More people are killed each year by lightning than by hurricanes and tor-
nadoes. This is partly because lightning is much more common. It is also
due to the fact that when a thundershower approaches, some people vio-
late one of the following rules:
WHEN LIGHTNING IS FLASHING-
1. Don't stand in an open field or on a golf course.
2. Don't stand under lone trees or on the edge of a group of trees.
3. Stay away from clothes lines, metal fences and small isolated buildings.
4. Get out of the water (pools, lakes, beaches).
Inside a house or building, but not near electric appliances, is about as safe
a place to be during a thunderstorm. Also, there is no record of ever being
struck by lightning in a car.
W weather events
areoften used to identify periods of time, such as "after the flood",
"the year of the big freeze", and "before the hurricane". Some
local events, like ice storms, are so unusual they occur once in a lifetime.
For this reason, many individuals are responsible for the following history of
unusual weather. George Winterling continues the records which were
started in the last century by T. Frederick Davis and were continued through
the first half of the twentieth century by Walter J. Bennett.
JANUARY is often the coldest month of the year, although in mild winters
it may resemble an early spring month. The hazard of a sudden freeze is
great, as the arrival of blustery westerly winds may be the forerunner of a
hard freeze within 12 to 24 hours.
1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 940 1960
1800 January 11. The heaviest Florida snow fell on this date. Five inches
were measured along the St. Marys River.
1852 January 13. Snow fell all morning accumulating a depth of one-half
inch. Lowest temperature was 20 degrees.
1857 January 19. Low temperature of 16 degrees was the coldest since
1835. On the 20th, a low of 18 formed ice up to 2 inches thick
on ponds and along the margin of the river. Some people tried to
1879 January 4. The first ice storm in the history of Jacksonville. Sleet
began at 7 P.M., turned to rain at 8:30 P.M., freezing as it fell.
Freezing rain continued until 9:30 A.M. of the 5th as trees, wires,
shrubs, etc. were covered with a thick coat of ice.
1915 January 3. The Weather Bureau office in the Dyal-Upchurch Build-
ing (southeast corner of Bay and Main) burned. All of the instru-
ments and some of the records were lost.
1924 January 6. Jacksonville's highest barometer . 30.67 inches.
1935 January 23. A considerable amount of snow fell from 7:56 A.M. to
9:05 A.M. The air was full of snow, but it melted as it fell. Un-
questionably the heaviest snow since February 1899.
1958 January 8. Today's high was only 35 degrees.
1959 January 17. A low of 23 degrees was followed by a high of 37.
1960 January 21-26. Six consecutive days with temperatures dropping to
freezing or lower.
1962 January 11-12. Nearly 16 hours of freezing rain produced the city's
worst glaze storm. Traffic was halted as bridges and overpasses
iced over. Electrical power was disrupted in many places as wires
snapped and transformers were shorted due to the ice.
1966 January 30. A low of 20 degrees was followed by a high of 33.
1970 January 7-11. Freezing temperatures 62-1/2 hours in a four-day pe-
period Lows of 21 on the 8th, 19 on the 9th, and 21 on the 10th.
The high of the 9th was only 35 degrees, as the temperature was
above freezing only from 2 P.M. to 6 P.M. The citrus trees surpris-
ingly not hard hit.
FEBRUARY has the distinction of being Jacksonville's "snowiest'" month, and
also the month in which the coldest temperature of the year was recorded.
It is during this month that the occasional advance of tropical air from the
south may clash with the wintery air masses over the continent, resulting in
Gulf disturbances that on rare occasion develop snow, but more frequently
mark the beginning of windstorms and possible tornado conditions over
parts of Florida and the Gulf coast.
840 1860 1880 1900 20 1940 190
1835 February 8. A most severe freeze in Florida. Fort King (near Ocala)
reported 11 degrees with snow. Jacksonville had 8 degrees. The St.
Johns River froze several yards from shore. All fruit trees were
killed to the ground, and many never started again.
1895 February 7-10. A severe freeze with a low of 14 on the 8th and 19
on the 9th. Ice formed in the St. Johns River 8 feet from shore.
1899 February 12-15. This was the "Big Freeze". The low of 10 degrees
in Jacksonville on the 13th is the coldest day since 1835. Tallahas-
see had 2 degrees below zero. Fruit trees, which were beginning to
recover from the freeze of 1895, were killed. This freeze marked
the end of growing citrus on the commercial scale in Jacksonville,
except where protected to the north and west by the river.
On the 13th, the temperature was below freezing all day with a
high of only 27 degrees. Rain on the evening of the 12th changed
to sleet, then snow, ceasing before sunrise on the 13th. At 7 A.M.
the ground had a 1.9 inch cover of snow, the heaviest ever re-
corded for Jacksonville. In some places it remained for days.
1903 February 16. Wind gust of 76 m.p.h. was the highest wind outside
of the hurricane season.
1920 February 1-2. A heavy 4.16 inch rain flooded streets and caused
much damage to the northeast Florida potato crop.
1943 February 6. A small tornado downed trees and fences along with
an open air theatre in a business section five miles east southeast
of downtown Jacksonville.
1951 February 2-3. Two inch snowfall in the St. Augustine-Crescent City
1958 February was a bitter month with 13 days of minimum tempera-
tures of freezing or below, seven of them consecutively. Six days
did not have a reading above 45 degrees.
On the 13th, one and a half inches of snow fell on the anniversary
of the 1899 snow.
1960 February 25. A tornado struck near Lake City, another north of
Jacksonville. Seven or eight homes were damaged northeast of Ime-
son airport as the tornado skipped along a path three miles long.
1963 February 3-5. Damage of about one million dollars to northeast
Florida beaches by a northeaster.
1964 February combined with January makes the wettest winter on rec-
ord. Rainfall 17.44 inches. The New Orleans Sugar Bowl had snow
on the ground.
1967 February 26. Coldest outbreak of the winter. Low of 22 degrees
was the coldest so late in the season.
1968 February tied for the second coldest on record. Light snowflakes fell
between noon and 2 P.M. on the 24th over much of northeast
1970 February 1-4. High winds-Flooding-Freeze. Low pressure systems
from the Gulf brought winds to 54 m.p.h. on the 1st, heavy rains
(6.15 inches) on the 2nd, and a cold wave on the night of the 3rd
which dropped the temperature to 23 degrees on the 4th.
MARCH is the month of changeable weather. Rapid moving masses of warm
and cold air, the shifting, development, or dissipation of weather systems
with sudden changes between rising and sinking currents of air make this
month's weather among the most unpredictable of the year. For the fisher-
man, the winds are a problem; and for the farmer, there may be no more
freezing temperatures . but the danger still exists until the end of the
month. Damaging windstorms and a few tornadoes have struck on occasion
during one of this month's more violent changes.
1872 March 10. Shortly after midnight, a violent wind and rain storm
passed over the city, accompanied by a tornado whose path varied
from three quarters of a mile to a mile in width and whose length
extended from a point near Panama Road to the St. Johns River.
Buildings were demolished and some stock was killed.
1907 March 21-24. Unseasonably warm weather with temperatures reach-
ing 90 degrees or higher for four consecutive days saw a high of
91 on the 24th for the highest March temperature on record for
1924 March 19-20. A heavy rain of 3.25 inches in 16 hours caused heavy
damage to local bridges and streets.
1926 March 14. The minimum of 28 degrees on this date was the lowest
for the whole year, causing heavy damage to tender vegetation and
corn, melons, strawberries, peas, etc.
1927 March 24. The beginning of a 72-day dry spell of only .37 inches
of rain from March 24 to June 4.
1931 March 28. Winds up to 65 m.p.h. blew the yacht, Beryl, from
moorings against the docks, demolishing the docks, boat slips, and
1932 March 6. Winds of over 50 m.p.h. blew two large freighters aground
at Commodore Point. The barometer of 29.05 inches is the lowest
for Jacksonville outside of the hurricane season.
March 10. Low temperature of 26 was the coldest reading for the
year and for the winter of 1931-32.
1939 March 30. A small tornado struck Dinsmore. The path of the tor-
nado was 11 miles long and 100 yards wide at the widest point.
Four persons were killed; several were injured.
1943 March 6. A severe squall line crossed the county with winds up to
65 m.p.h. Thirty people required hospitalization; damage around
1948 March 31. A heavy squall hit parts of the city, damaging roofs and
toppling trees along a two-mile path three hundred yards wide in
the southwest section of the city.
1964 March 31. Thirty-two degree temperature was the latest freezing
temperature on record for Jacksonville. The sudden change killed
many viburnum bushes.
1967 March 10-15. A six-day heat wave, just two weeks after a hard
freeze, brought 4 daily record high temperatures. The hottest was
91 on the 12th.
1970 March 7. Total solar eclipse passed within 40 miles northwest of
Jacksonville. The city's 98 percent eclipse was mostly obscured by
APRIL is not the month of "April showers" in this part of the country. This
is the time of rising temperatures, longer days, and less frequent rains which
often cause dry spells. When the rains do come, however, they may be ex-
tremely heavy, sometimes accompanied by high winds and hail. While occa-
sional cool snaps of April may cause chilly nights, the strong sunshine causes
most days to be rather mild.
1828 April 6. Heavy frost. The temperature at Picolata on the St. Johns
(23 miles south of Jacksonville) was 28 degrees. The Army post at
St. Augustine had 30.
1884 April 2. High winds blew the river steamer, Seminole, ashore at
Grassy Point. Considerable damage to roofing around Jacksonville.
1907 April 18. A heavy hail storm dropped stones of varied shapes and
sizes, ranging from 1/2 to 1 inch. The hail accumulated several
inches deep with drifts as high as 6 inches. Hundreds of window
panes were broken, foliage whipped to shreds. Persons exposed to
the storm suffered lacerated faces, heads, and hands. A tugboat
was sunk, the captain drowned; a man was blown from a pile driv-
er and drowned. On the Southside, the storm seemed tornadic.
1916 April 10. Morton's farm, a few miles west of the city reported a
low of 32 with a killing frost.
1918 April 2. Hailstones up to 1/2 inch in diameter piled as high as
three inches deep in a few places.
1929 April 15. During high winds up to 54 m.p.h., the Methodist church
in Murray Hill was razed; damage-$6,500.
1935 April 12. One of the duststorms of the '30's reduced Jacksonville
visibility to one and a half miles.
1958 April 10. Heavy rain, accompanied by hail, dumped 3.83 inches of
rain during early morning.
1961 April 9. Sunday afternoon thunderstorms swept over Duval County,
spawning a tornado over the lower Jacksonville Beach area. Dam-
age was confined to mostly trees, fences, and a few homes.
1967 Hot April. Four record high temperatures. Highest temperature 94
degrees on the 18th. This month tied with April 1947 for the hot-
test April since 1908.
1968 SeGond consecutive hot April. Ties with April 1967 and April 1947
for the hottest April since 1908. Highest temperature 95 degrees
on the 21st.
1969 Driest April since 1942. Rainfall only .35 inches.
1971 April 30. The day that night fell at 10:30 A.M. A front near the
city and thunderstorms with hail one to two inches in diameter in
north Jacksonville plunged the city into such darkness that street
lights, signs, and inside lights all had to be turned on. A tornado
warning was placed in effect as radar indicated a possible twister
northwest of the city. There was no tornado, no high wind ... as
daylight slowly returned about thirty minutes later.
MAY is the month which begins to see some hot days in the 90's. The sea-
breeze along the coast provides a pleasant relief on the hotter days, since
the coastal waters still retain much of the coolness of the preceding months.
Showers are about as infrequent as in April, and the higher temperatures
increase the evaporation from the soil, often causing plants and grass to
suffer great stress. On the other hand, May has sometimes brought very
heavy rains, with most of the month's rainfall deposited on but two or
S1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960
7 I Ir 'I
1901 May 3. This was the date of the great fire which destroyed nearly
the whole city. The Astor Building, in which the Weather Bureau
was located, was one of the few buildings to escape the fire.
1903 May 12-13. Nine inches of rain flooded all low places in the city.
From Broad Street to the Union Depot and throughout the railroad
yards was a lake, caused by the overflow of McCoys Creek. Spring-
field Park, the Waterworks and Electric Plant were flooded.
1906 May 21-25. During these five days, 12.90 inches of rain fell.
1929 May 2. A severe windstorm seemed tornadic in the Jacksonville
Heights-Ortega section. Several houses were unroofed; large oaks
were uprooted. One man was killed. The track of the storm was
two miles long and about 400 yards wide.
1948 May 28. A severe thundersquall struck the city. Winds at the Naval
Air Station reached 64 m.p.h. A motor court in north Jacksonville
was damaged, and twenty-five transformers were knocked out by
1952 May 11. Heavy thunderstorms caused county-wide damage. There
was much damage at Craig Field where a few tornadoes were seen.
Four hundred telephones were knocked out of service. WMBR-TV,
now WJXT, was off the air for nearly seven hours. Three women
were hurt in the Riverside Baptist Church from a glass window that
blew in, and a train was stopped by a tree across the tracks.
1959 May 20-21. Torrential rains submerged low sections of Jacksonville.
Up to fifteen inches fell on the Southside. Hogans Creek, near the
State Board of Health, flooded to car tops. Some roads and bridges
were washed out. There was very little rain reported at Waycross
and St. Augustine.
1962 May 20-28. A nine-day heat wave began with 99 degrees on the
20th, the hottest temperature so early in the season (until 1967).
1964 May 2. Up to seven inches of rain fell in northwest Clay County,
causing the flooding of Black Creek around Middleburg.
1967 May 13. The temperature hit 100 degrees for the first time since
August 7, 1956.
1969 May 15. A severe thunderstorm dropped 2.18 inches of rain at
Imeson airport, moved southward producing hail to near baseball
size around Arlington, and produced wind gusts to 55 m.p.h. at
JUNE marks the beginning of the summer shower season. June's rainfall is
nearly twice that of May, as thundershowers may be expected, on the aver-
age, one out of three days. Occasional cold fronts during this month have
little effect on daytime temperatures, but bring drier and more comfortable
conditions. Nighttime temperatures are not yet oppressive on most nights,
as readings may still lower to the middle or upper 60's.
4 1" 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960
I I I I I
1885 June 10. Very heavy rains totalling 5.11 inches in less than five
1919 June 29-30. Water stood two feet deep on Bay Street, covering the
floor of Union Station, as a result of a 7.66 inch rainfall. Streetcar
service was abandoned on several lines.
1924 June 11. Lightning from a severe thunderstorm struck the Masonic
Temple, breaking windows in adjacent buildings.
June 23. Lightning killed a man on a pier off Talleyrand Avenue
and injured two others.
1945 June 24, 26. Rain in connection with a tropical storm passing into
the Atlantic just north of Daytona Beach dropped 4.69 inches of
rain on Jacksonville; but two days later on the 26th, a violent
thundersquall did more damage than the tropical storm.
1949 June 8. Hail covered the ground on the Southside at Lovegrove
Road (University Blvd. W.).
1950 June 27. Hottest June day on record. Downtown was 102 degrees;
the airport had 103.
1954 June 25-July 4. One of the hottest spells on record began with 97
degrees on the 25th, reaching 101 on the 27th, and 103 on the
28th. Daily highs continued 97 degrees or higher each day through
the 4th of July.
1957 June 8-9. Rain over Northern Florida was accompanied by nine tor-
nadoes or windstorms, due to a tropical disturbance in the Gulf.
Two tornadoes touched down in Duval County, one in the Spring-
field section of Jacksonville.
1960 June 11. The coldest June temperature since 1913 . 57 degrees.
1961 June 30. A hailstorm extended from the southwest sections of Jack-
sonville into northwestern sections of the city, hailstones ranging
from one to two and a half inches in diameter. High winds caused
about $20,000 damage to homes in the southwest section.
1964 June 6. A severe windstorm, classified as a tornado, caused dam-
age in excess of $300,000 in southwest Jacksonville, from the Nor-
mandy section through Hyde Grove toward Avondale. Many large
trees were snapped and uprooted; one WPDQ radio tower was
toppled by the high winds, estimated up to 125 m.p.h.
1966 The coolest June on record. Low temperatures were 56 on the 2nd
and 57 on the 3rd, while only four days during the month reached
1967 The wettest June in 30 years. Total rainfall 12.84 inches. Southside
streets were swamped with nearly six inches on the 15, while on
the 30th the airport had wind gusts of 67 m.p.h. A waterspout
was sighted off New Berlin Road.
1968 June 6. Tropical storm Abby moved up the coast.
June 12. Severe flooding in south Jacksonville from evening thun-
derstorms. WJXT measured 6.75 inches of rain.
1969 The hottest June since 1952. Highest temperature was 97 on the
1970 June 18-23. A six-day heat wave with 99 degrees on the 19th,
20th, and 22nd.
JULY is normally the hottest and wettest month of the year. Wind patterns
of the upper atmosphere may cause dry scorching heat for a week or
longer, or may draw enormous amounts of heat and moisture skyward to
produce severe electrical storms and locally heavy rains. While these are the
extremes that may occur during the month, most days are a lesser combina-
tion of summer heat and scattered afternoon or evening thundershowers.
1840 1860 1880 1900 1920 1940 1960
1875 A hot July which saw the temperature reach 90 degrees or higher
on every day of the month and 100 degrees or higher on five days.
The mercury reached 100 on the 19th, 101 on the 20th, 100 on
the 21st, 101 on the 25th and 100 on the 29th. This was the driest
July on record with a total of only .14 inches of rain.
1879 July 8-13. A heat wave lasting six days that caused the highest tem-
perature for Jacksonville (until 1942). All six days saw readings of
100 degrees or higher-the hottest day, the 11th with 104 degrees.
1896 July 20-August 19. Thirty-one consecutive days with temperatures
of 90 or higher.
1917 July 27. A severe electrical storm and heavy rain caused $8,000
damage to the Miller Piano Company and collapsed the roof of the
Savoy Theatre at Main and Forsyth Streets.
1924 July 25. Lightning struck the sulfuric acid plant of the Armour Fer-
tilizer Company on Talleyrand Avenue, causing $200,000 damage.
1927 July 27. Lightning shattered the cupola of the Main Street Baptist
1937 July 28. Lightning killed two men and injured nine at the Munici-
1942 July 21. The highest temperature ever recorded in Jacksonville-105
degrees at Imeson Airport. Downtown reported 102. This was the
hottest July since 1881.
1957 July 9. A small tornado or waterspout developed over Ribault River
in the Lake Forest section.
1959 July 12. A "waterspout" formed about three blocks inland from
Jacksonville Beach, reportedly lifted a three-year-old boy about a
foot off the ground until he was pulled down by two men. The
"waterspout" then moved a few hundred yards offshore, remaining
nearly stationary for about a half hour.
1965 July rainfall. An example of rainfall variation. The driest July in
34 years at Imeson Airport with only 2.71 inches of rain, while
downtown had a wet monthly total of 9.05 inches. Rain at the
Beaches totalled 8.40 inches.
1969 July 1-14. A heat wave with 95 degrees or higher on 11 out of 14
days. Hottest was 100 degrees on July 6.
1971 July 20. High winds struck Deerwood Country Club, knocking down
35 to 40 trees and a tennis court fence.
AUGUST is almost identical to July, as far as the averages go. It is during
this month, however, that the humidity is highest and the summer heat can
be very oppressive. While the hurricane season officially begins in June, it is
during the last week in this month that hurricanes in the tropics can be-
come more active and pose a more serious threat to the Gulf and Atlantic
1859 August 28. The Aurora Borealis (northern lights) were plainly visible
during early evening.
1886 August 31. This was the date of the Great Charleston Earthquake.
Shocks were felt in Jacksonville from 8:52 P.M. to 9:03 P.M. Win-
dows, doors, and furniture rattled. The earthquake caused much ex-
citement and was noted over a large part of the state.
1894 August 20-21. An unusually severe and long thunderstorm began
on the evening of the 20th and ended during early morning of the
21st. Many trees were struck by lightning, but damage was small,
except to the Standard Oil storehouse on the river in Riverside,
which burned at a loss of $16,000.
1937 August13. Lightning struck the Lutheran Church at Post and Cherry
1946 August 5. Lightning struck the tanker, Homestead, at the Standard
Oil dock. The ship was almost completely destroyed with a cargo
loss of near four million dollars. Three men were killed, thirty
1954 August 17. Highest August temperature on record--102 degrees.
1961 August 22. A locally heavy downpour flooded the Sandalwood sub-
1962 August 23. Numerous waterspouts were sighted along the Jackson-
1964 August 28. The eye of a weakened hurricane, Cleo, passed over
St. Augustine, Jacksonville Beach, and Fernandina, moving north-
ward along the coast.
1968 August 29. A tornado hit Ponte Vedra from the ocean, unroofing
1969 August 22-23. Rainfalls of 12.31 inches and 12.95 inches hit St.
Simons Island, Georgia and the Sans Souci section of Jacksonville
respectively on a slow moving east-west cold front. A disturbance
on the front was named tropical storm Eve off Daytona Beach on
1970 August 16. A waterspout was sighted around 11 A.M. over the St.
Johns River from Arlington.
August 19. Windstorm or small tornado in Cedar Hills at Eudine
SEPTEMBER is the month of hurricanes. While Jacksonville is in a position
that causes most storms to pass over land and weaken before reaching the
city, a blow from the east, such as hurricane Dora, can be extremely dev-
astating. Although Dora caused Jacksonville's highest sustained wind on
record, the hurricane slowed and weakened slightly before landfall, which
means that this. area is not immune to hurricanes more severe than Dora.
September is also characterized by occasional northeasters, warm humid
days and nights, and unsettled showery weather. It has less sunshine than
any other month.
1565 And other dates. See HURRICANES AFFECTING NORTHEAST FLORIDA
1859 September 2. Brilliant Aurora during the evening and night illumi-
nated the entire heavens. Some imagined that the end of the world
was at hand. 4
1871 September 11. The Army Signal Service opened an office in the
Jacksonville Masonic Hall to take weather observations.
1882 September 10. A tornado at Darbyville (30 miles west of Jackson-
ville) destroyed several buildings, killed one man, and injured sev-
eral others. A number of cattle and hogs were killed.
1884 September 15-18. Unusually high tides in the St. Johns River did
considerable damage. Wharves were flooded, freight damaged, and
the well supplying the city water was flooded.
1885 September 26. A heavy 6.20 inch rain washed out parts of the
railroad and flooded Bay Street stores. Rains on the 27th and 28th
brought the September total to 16.93 inches.
1889 September 23. A severe thunderstorm produced rain and a tornadic
wind which unroofed the Murray Hall Hotel and killed one man.
1908 September 9-11. Three days of rain brought a total of 12.79 inches.
1937 September 30-October 1. Heavy rains and high tides inundated
parts of Atlantic Blvd., said to be the highest water in 34 years.
1945 September 4. Heaviest one hour rainfall on record for September-
1947 September 26-29. A severe northeaster at the beaches washed out
long stretches of seawall, carried out beach sand, and undermined
several homes. Damage was about $500,000.
1949 September 24-25. Heavy rains caused flooding. Worst was in Mur-
ray Hill. Twenty-four hour rainfall was 10.13 inches.
1950 September 5-6. The Cedar Key Hurricane dropped as much as ten
inches of rain on parts of the city.
1961 September-December. The driest fall on record. Total rain during
the four month period was only 2.65 inches.
1964 September 9-10. Jacksonville's worst hurricane . Dora.
1965 September 27-28. The wettest September since 1950 with over five
inches of rain on the 27th and 28th.
1968 September 7. Tornado at Orange Park caused mostly tree damage.
September 8. Small tornado reported at Whitehouse.
1970 The warmest September since 1933.
1971 September 6. Labor Day. Waterspouts off the St. Johns River Jetties
around 1:45 P.M.
OCTOBER is a month which brings cold weather to the northern states, but
seasonably mild temperatures continue in northeast Florida until about the
last week in the month, when the season's first cold snap often arrives. The
last hurricanes of the season usually move over tropical waters during this
month, and if Jacksonville were to have a tropical storm, it would most
likely come out of the Gulf of Mexico. Stagnant fronts and disturbances in
a moist easterly flow of air sometimes produce heavy rains, but this month
is moving toward the driest month of the year.
1840 1880 1 1900 1920 1 1960
1880 October 8-10. A torrential rain totalled 8.15 inches in three days.
1886 October 22. An earthquake shock was felt throughout the city at
4:24 A.M. lasting 15 seconds and strong enough to rattle dishes
1890 October 1. Five inches of rain fell between 5 P.M. and 7:30 P.M.
1933 October 23-24. Heavy rains dumped a total of 6.48 inches with
3.22 falling in one hour.
1938 October 23-24. Another heavy rain total of 5.79 inches in twenty-
1941 October 19-21. Over five inches of rain fell in 24 hours, bringing a
48 hour total of 7.40 inches.
1947 October 7. A tornado struck north Jacksonville about 8 P.M. mov-
ing south to north. The path was three quarters of a mile long and
50 to 150 yards wide. It damaged several roofs and a trailer camp.
Ten people were injured; total damage around $100,000.
1947 October 24. Twenty-four hour rainfall total was 4.69 inches.
1954 October 31-November 4. One of the earliest cold waves on record
for Jacksonville. The low on the 31st was 39, followed by a low of
29 degrees on November 3.
1968 October 18-19. Hurricane Gladys passed into the Atlantic after
crossing the Florida peninsula. Winds from Jacksonville to Palatka
reached 65 m.p.h. in gusts.
1969 October 31-November 1. Halloween night dumped 5.44 inches of
rain on Jacksonville while an all-time record twenty-two inches sub-
merged Fernandina and parts of Nassau County. Many schools were
closed and roads blocked.
1970 October 16. Over four inches of rain fell in one hour in the city
of Jacksonville, closing the Riverside expressway for several hours.
The Times Union measured 8 inches of rain. Hailstones up to three
quarters of an inch in diameter fell.
NOVEMBER is normally the driest month of the year. The first freezing tem-
perature of the winter sometimes occurs in this month. Pleasant tempera-
tures are usually experienced during many days this month, but occasional
cold snaps require furnaces to be turned on several times during the month.
Cold fronts pass into central or southern Florida and become stationary.
This produces overcast conditions, and sometimes northeasters, along the
east coast. Rainfall accumulations are not as much as in previous months,
since cool air does not hold as much moisture as warm air.
|1840 18o 1880 1900 j 1920 1940 1960
1888 November 25. Prayers for a killing frost were answered, signaling
the end of Jacksonville's Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1888.
1906 The driest November on record until 1970 with only .01 inches of
1932 November 27-29. A three-day northeaster eroded 3 to 5 feet of
sand from the beaches, advancing the ocean some 60 to 75 feet.
Bulkheads, docks, and some cottages on the oceanfront were
wrecked. Damage was placed around a half million dollars. Tides
were reported the highest in 30 years.
1940 November 16. A minimum of 22 degrees with a killing frost was
the lowest temperature for so early in the season. The next day
saw another record low-23 degrees.
1950 November 25-26. The coldest Thanksgiving! Lowest temperatures
were 23 on the 25th, and 27 on the 26th.
1962 November 29-December 1. A severe northeaster caused about two
million dollars damage to Jacksonville Beach and the northeast
1966 November 4. The second earliest freeze on record. There was
frost and one hour of freezing temperatures in west and north
1970 The driest November on record and the coldest November since
1901. Only a trace of rainfall recorded during the entire month;
the monthly temperature averaged 57.7.
November 24-25. A severe freeze. The coldest ever in November
with lows of 25 on the 24th, and 21 on the 25th. There was much
damage to tender plants and citrus because of unseasonably warm
temperatures in September and October.
DECEMBER brings some of the coldest weather of the year, but like January,
it may be as mild as any early spring month. During normal winters, a few
days of mild weather are experienced between cold snaps.
1868 December 25. A hard freeze destroyed much fruit; young trees
were frozen to the ground. This was the coldest Christmas on rec-
1870 December 24. A severe freeze with a low of 19 degrees.
1876 December 1-6. Low temperatures were in the 20's for six consecu-
tive days, the lowest being 24 degrees on the 3rd.
1894 December 28-30. This cold wave brought a low of 14 degrees on
the 29th, and 21 on the 30th. This was the coldest outbreak since
1917 December 30-31. A cold wave on these dates produced lows of 21
on the 30th, and 19 on the 31st. The cold wave continued into
January with minimums in the 20's through January 4.
1925 December 1-2. A storm of tropical origin passed east of Jackson-
ville, dumping 3.44 inches of rain and causing winds gusts to 50
1927 December 17-23. A seven-day cold wave. The coldest night was
27 degrees on the official thermometer atop the Graham (Florida
Title) Building. It was colder in the suburbs.
1934 December 7-15. A cold spell of nine days duration caused the
temperature to average eleven degrees below normal for this
1957 December 13. The lowest temperature since January 1940 was re-
corded on this date-1-7.3 degrees.
1962 December 13. The most severe freeze since 1899 extended into
south Florida. Many camphor trees and Australian pines were killed.
Low temperatures were: Jacksonville-12 degrees; Gainesville and
Ocala-14; Sanford and Tampa-19; Orlando-20; Fort Myers-25;
1970 A drought brought only .90 inches of rain during the 59 day period
ending December 28.
1971 The warmest December since 1931. The temperature averaged
64.4 degrees, which was more than eight degrees above normal.
S (A Average month
1 FP Warmest month
LL Coldest month
Average Day High
Average Day Low
Days 32 or lower
Days 90 or higher
AVERAGES AND EXTREMES FOR JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA*
JAN FEB MAR APR
55.9 57.5 62.2 68.7
67.5 66.9 71.3 73.8
1937 1832 1945 1908
45.5 47.6 55.4 63.2
1940 1895 1960 1901
67 69 73 80
85 88 91 95
45 47 51 58
15 8 25 34
4 3 1 0
0 0 0 2
2.45 2.91 3.49 3.55
9.12 9.16 12.52 9.74
Wettest 24 hours 3.
MAY JUN JUL
80 8 82 6
86 0 85 5
75 8 79.0
3 47 6.33 7 68
14 80 23.32 16.21
AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC YEAR
2 22 53 36
7.76 23 32
81 1920 1948 1944 1903 1932 1960 1953 1908 1880 1947 1885 1932
01 .13 .12 .11 09 1.25 14 .76 .07 .08 Trace Trace Trace
50 1911 1945 1892 1927 1879 1875 1930 1931 1909 1970 1889 1889!/
43 6.22 7.12 4.88 9 06 7 66 10.09 7.93 10.17 9.62 5.44 4.97 10.17
76 72 70 70 70 75 77 79 78 78 77 77 75
Average speed 9 10
Prevailing direction NW WSW
Highest recorded ** 51 76
9 8 9
NW NW NW
60 62 82
* From records of Judge F. Bethune and Dr. A.S. Baldwin for the period 1829-1871, and Army Signal Service and U.S. Weather
Bureau (now National Weather Service) for the period 1871-1971.
* Highest sustained wind, not wind gust.
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