The Reanalysis of Three Catastrophic Hurricanes that Impacted Florida During the 1920’s Steve Feuer, Chris Landsea, Jamese Sims


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The Reanalysis of Three Catastrophic Hurricanes that Impacted Florida During the 1920’s

  • Steve Feuer, Chris Landsea, Jamese Sims,

  • and Lenworth Woolcock

  • NOAA/AOML/Hurricane Research Division

  • Miami, Florida




HURDAT REANALYSIS PROJECT

  • Goal is to improve the quality of the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) original North Atlantic best track and intensity database (HURDAT) from 1851 to the present.

  • By employing consistent analysis methods and modern interpretations, the project is helping to:

    • correct several errors and biases
    • determine better landfall attributes
    • provide additional track and intensity data
    • for TCs in the database (Landsea et al. 2002).
  • Previously unknown TCs are also identified after thorough inspection of historical meteorological records and accounts and are considered as candidate storms to be added to HURDAT.

  • Recommended changes are submitted to the NHC Best Track Change Committee for approval.





Data Sources for the Reanalysis of the 1920’s

  • PRIMARY

  • marine and land station observations from the Historical Weather Map series

  • ship observations included in COADS

  • individual surface station records (Original Monthly Records)

  • archived ship reports and logs from NCDC

  • articles and records published in Monthly Weather Review

  • SUPPLEMENTARY

  • books with historical retrospectives

  • technical memoranda

  • journalistic accounts













HURDAT Reanalysis Status











1921 TAMPA BAY HURRICANE

  • formed as TD on 20 October in vicinity of persistent surface trough in the SW Caribbean

  • intensified into a hurricane early on the 22nd as it tracked steadily NNW around the western periphery of a large anticyclone

  • reached peak intensity of a Category 4 on the 23rd and then began to turn to the north as ridge over SE U.S. started to weaken

  • turned to the NNE and then NE and weakened slightly to a high-end Category 3 storm before making landfall at Tarpon Springs during the afternoon on the 25th

  • crossed central FL and moved offshore at Ponce de Leon Inlet early on the 26th as a substantially weaker Category 1 storm

  • moved to the east then to the ENE during the next three days, weakened to a TS, and was absorbed by a large extratropical system on the 30th



Impacts of 1921 Tampa Bay Hurricane

  • worst hurricane to affect Tampa Bay region in 70 years

  • damage mainly from high storm surge and both coastal and inland flooding

  • storm tide of 3.2 m (10.5 ft.) reported in Tampa on the 25th, which was the highest since the flood of 1848

  • Tampa U.S. Weather Bureau office reported over 215 mm (8.5 in.) nearly continuously from the 23rd-26th

  • $3M losses from structural damage to residences, commercial buildings, ships, ports, marinas, piers, bridges, agricultural interests, citrus crops, and public infrastructure and property

  • total number of fatalities is at least eight deaths

  • hurricane likely to cause around $4B in damage today due to vastly increased population and development











Raw Data (significant) for Tampa Bay Hurricane





Revised “Best Track” Data (HURDAT) for Tampa Bay Hurricane





Metadata File for the Tampa Bay Hurricane Track – Example of One Day



Metadata File for the Tampa Bay Hurricane Intensity – Example at Landfall









1921 HURRICANE

  • 1921 HURRICANE

  • Category 3 storm at landfall

  • Landfall at Tarpon Springs at 1940 UTC

  • Minimum central pressure of 952 mb measured by barometer of Dr. A. P. Albaugh (Bowie 1921)

  • Estimated maximum sustained winds of 110 kt using Gulf pressure-wind relationship

  • Estimated RMW of ~18 nmi

  • Moving 40º at 9 kt

  • Underwent rapid intensification 66-72 h prior to landfall; stayed at Cat. 4 intensity for nearly two days before weakening to a strong Cat. 3 at landfall

  • Storm tides of up to 10.5’ at Tampa and extensive coastal flooding/storm surge and rainfall throughout Tampa Bay region and the entire Southwest Coast of Florida (Bowie 1921)





11 storms in original HURDAT; 9 recommended to be retained after reanalysis

  • 11 storms in original HURDAT; 9 recommended to be retained after reanalysis

  • 5 landfalling storms

    • Storm 1: Cat 2 - Florida, Cat 1 - Puerto Rico
    • Storm 3: Cat 3 - Louisiana
    • Storm 6: Cat 4 - Florida (SE), Cat 3 - Florida (SW)
    • Cat 3 - Florida (NW), Cat 3 - Alabama,
    • Cat 1 - Mississippi (new)
    • Storm 7: Tropical Storm - Cuba
    • Storm 10: Cat 4 - Cuba,
    • Cat 3 - Bermuda
  • 5 storms occurred during September







1926 GREAT MIAMI HURRICANE

  • formed as TD in tropical Central Atlantic during the afternoon of 11 September from an easterly wave

  • intensified into a hurricane during the afternoon on the 14th as it meandered on a WNW - NW track

  • passed north of Puerto Rico and became a major hurricane by 00 UTC on the 16th, intensifying into a Category 4 storm later during the day and reaching a peak intensity of 125 kt by the evening

  • maintained same intensity for the next 36 h as it moved WNW over the Turks Islands and the Bahamas--center passed nearly over Grand Turk and very close to Nassau (Mitchell 1926)

  • made landfall in Miami just after 11 UTC on the 18th, in which the wind center appeared to cross just south of downtown--minimum central pressure of 933 mb was recorded

  • crossed the Everglades and exited into the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 storm at 2030 UTC at Punta Rassa, which recorded a minimum central pressure of 950 mb

  • turned to the NW and quickly re-strengthened back into a Category 3 storm by 00 UTC on the 19th

  • reached second peak intensity of 110 kt 24 h later and maintained this intensity before hooking left, decelerating, and making a second U.S. landfall at Perdido Beach, AL near FL/AL border at 2030 UTC on the 20th

  • tracked west right along the Gulf coast, decreasing in intensity but still maintaining hurricane strength through 15 UTC on the 21st when it finally went inland for good at Bay St. Louis, MS

  • weakened to a TS and then a depression over southern LA and finally dissipated near the LA/TX border by the morning of the 22nd



total number of fatalities was at least 262 in Miami and the surrounding area and an estimated 6,381 people were injured

  • total number of fatalities was at least 262 in Miami and the surrounding area and an estimated 6,381 people were injured

  • storm greatly affected other parts of the state, particularly the Panhandle, including an estimated 18,000 families

  • $80-100 M losses resulted from wind, rain, and storm surge damage

  • storm surge was measured at 11.7’ above mean low water along Biscayne Blvd. and estimated as high as 14-15’ in Coconut Grove—also high further up East Coast and along Gulf Coast





Revised HURDAT for Great Miami Hurricane





1928 OKEECHOBEE HURRICANE

  • quickly formed as a TD and then became a TS shortly after emerging as an easterly wave off of Africa on 6 October

  • tracked just south of due west to the south of the Cape Verde Islands and then mostly west at a steady pace over the next few days

  • reached hurricane strength during the afternoon of the 10th in the tropical Central Atlantic based on observations of three ships

  • became a major hurricane by 00 UTC on the 12th and intensified to Category 4 status in the afternoon before passing over Guadeloupe

  • continued to intensify as it moved WNW near the Virgin Islands and made landfall as a Category 5 storm at 1830 UTC on the 13th

  • moved over the island the next 7 h with very heavy rainfall and exited back into the Atlantic as a 120 kt Category 3 storm early on the 14th

  • tracked NW over Bahamas and made landfall at West Palm Beach at 00 UTC on the 17th as a strong Category 4 storm

  • moved over Lake Okeechobee and then recurved east of Tampa, weakening to Category 1 storm

  • moved NNE just west of Jacksonville and then back over the Atlantic on morning of the 18th, passing east of Savannah, reintensifying slightly but still at Category 1 strength

  • made second U.S. landfall over Charleston around 12 UTC on the 18th and tracked inland near the coast, weakening to a tropical storm around Myrtle Beach in the evening

  • turned north and then NNW and continued up into VA, MD, and PA, where it became extratropical on the 20th



300 fatalities

  • 300 fatalities

  • $50 M in damages (several billion today)

  • over 25” rainfall in some areas of the island

  • 12 h of hurricane force winds were observed in San Juan

  • 936 mb recorded in Guayama (might not be central pressure)

  • 139 kt 1-min winds observed at San Juan (with new 3 cup anemometer but was 25 nmi from center – may not be 10 m wind and may have had poor exposure)

  • originally listed in HURDAT as Category 5 (140 kt) – may need to be downgraded



1836 fatalities officially (2500 estimate suggested by Rusty Pfost [BAMS 2003] based upon new books by Eliot Kleinberg [Black Cloud] and Robert Mykle [Killer ‘Cane])

  • 1836 fatalities officially (2500 estimate suggested by Rusty Pfost [BAMS 2003] based upon new books by Eliot Kleinberg [Black Cloud] and Robert Mykle [Killer ‘Cane])

  • $25 M in damages ($15-20 billion today)

  • hurricane warnings issued at 1530 UTC on the 16th even though pressure at West Palm Beach was already 997 mb

  • first gale observed at Miami at 19 UTC on the 16th (WPB ~1-2 hr earlier)

  • Landfall at West Palm Beach at 00 UTC on the 17th with 929 mb pressure

  • storm tide 10’ north of Palm Beach

  • lake surge of 10-15’ from Lake Okeechobee

  • originally listed in HURDAT as Category 4 (130 kt)







Revised HURDAT for Okeechobee Hurricane





SUMMARY




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