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    South Carolina’s Great Hurricane of 1752

         During the evening of September 14, 1752, the outer edges of a fairly small but vigorous hurricane began hitting Charleston, South Carolina.  Strong northeast winds blew all that night but began to increase in strength rapidly beginning at about 4:00 a.m. of the 15th.  At 9:00 that morning, the storm surge barreled in, and in just two hours every ship in the harbor except one had been driven ashore.  All wharves and bridges together with all buildings on them were destroyed.  Water rose ten feet above high tide and inundated parts of the city carrying wrecks of houses, boats and many other articles with it.  Many people would have drowned had not the wind suddenly switched to east-southeast, south and southwest at 11:10 causing the water to fall 5 feet in 10 minutes.  As it was, a number of people did drown, though the exact number cannot be ascertained.

         Destruction was widespread throughout Charleston and the area around the city.  Many of the plantations in that area lost entire stands of their finest trees with just one plantation owner alone estimating his tree loss at about $50,000.  Chimneys were downed; two story houses were reduced to one story or were demolished.  Houses with slate and tile roofs had their roofing torn off, but those houses right on the bay were entirely unroofed.  Water ran two feet deep in some streets after the storm.


    The Great Hurricane of October, 1780

        Although the violent “Great Hurricane” of October, 1780 never hit the United States mainland, it dealt a crushing blow to Barbados, St. Lucia, and Martinique.  This storm began its assault on Barbados during the morning of October 10.  Winds reached whole gale force around 1:00 p.m. of the 10th and increased to hurricane force by early evening.  Even though the center of the hurricane passed Barbados around midnight, winds continued at hurricane force for about another 12 hours.  Every building on the island was either damaged or, in most cases, totally destroyed.  Many cattle were killed, and the storm surge carried a12 pound cannon 140 yards.  At least 4,326 people lost their lives on Barbados alone.

         Next in the storm’s path was the Island of St. Vincent.  Everything within 30 yards of the ocean was destroyed and carried away.  Only 14 out of 600 houses remained standing in Kings-Town.  On the Island of St. Lucia, hurricane force winds lasted 24 hours.

        Next, the storm hit Martinique.  The storm surge overflowed the low-lying streets around the harbor area of St. Pierre there.  In a few moments, 150 houses and other buildings were swallowed by the sea.  Many others were moved off their foundations.  Every house and most other buildings in St. Pierre, including a new hospital with 1600 patients in it, were blown down.  Loss of life on Martinique was put at approximately 9,000 people if not more.

         The Island of Dominica was hit after Martinique.  Some of the houses at Roseau on Dominica were swept away by the storm surge as were powder magazines and storehouses.  Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola were also hit by this violent storm, as were several other islands in the West Indies.  The death toll for the entire West Indies was later placed at about 22,000.  


    Snow Hurricane of October 9, 1804

         A small hurricane raced up the Atlantic Coast from the Middle Atlantic States into New England on October 9, 1804.  The center of this hurricane passed close to New York City and then may have gone right over Boston and Salem, Massachusetts.  At Philadelphia, Pennsylvania a violent wind submerged a ship about 8:00 a.m. of the 9th, while on the New Jersey shore a southeast wind forced another ship onto the beach. 

         At New York City, the barometer fell to 28.87 inches and remained there until sunset.  The temperature also stayed rather steady all day at 55 degrees until it fell to 42 about sunset when heavy rain from the north also lashed the city.  A total of 2.27 inches of rain fell on the 9th at New York City.

         At New Haven, Connecticut, southeast winds in the early morning switched to northwest by 1:00 p.m., and they turned north at gale force by sunset while the temperature fell to 38 degrees as lightning and thunder raged.  Rainfall there totaled 3.66 inches.  Winds at Boston on the 9th began the day from the south-southeast but later switched with increasing force from the east until 3:00.  The North Church steeple was blown down, and the tower roof on the Stone Church was hurled 200 feet through the air.

       North of Boston at Salem, the winds came from the northeast at 9:00 a.m., and there was thunder and rain all day.  After sunset, the wind became quite violent and continued very strong all that night.  Rainfall from the 9th to morning of the 10th totaled 7 inches there.  All along the coast, roads were blocked with fallen trees, and there was much damage to houses and other buildings.

         An unseasonably cold air mass must have been located over northern New York and northern New England, for at Rochester, New York not only was there heavy rain but also considerable snow which melted as it fell.  However, from southern Connecticut into Canada snow fell much of the 9th and into the 10th.  Litchfield, Connecticut reported 3 inches of snow but higher elevations had a foot of snow.  Although an estimated 15-18 inches of snow fell in the lower portions of the Connecticut Valley, most of it melted as it fell.  Still, there were 4-5 inches of snow on the ground there at the end of the storm, and this stayed on the ground for 30 hours before it all disappeared.  Much of western New York received 8 inches of snow, while the Berkshire Mountains got between 24 and 30 inches.  In Vermont, the Green Mountains received 2 to 3 feet of snow from this snow hurricane. 


    Bay St. Louis Hurricane of 1819

         A powerful but probably fairly small hurricane slammed into the Mississippi Delta region on July 27, 1819.  Its eye came ashore at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi prior to midnight of July 28.  Practically every wharf, warehouse and house along the cost at Bay St. Louis was washed away.  Indeed, the coastline from pass Christian, Mississippi to Mobile, Alabama was filled with the remains of buildings, trees, fences, and other debris.  Bodies of people as well as hundreds of dead cattle also lay decaying on the beaches.  Snapping turtles, snakes and alligators were washed into the streets of Mobile, Alabama, resulting in several deaths.  The U.S. Man-of-War Firebrand was capsized by the hurricane’s 6-10 foot storm surge, killing 39 men.  The storm surge also drove a number of small boats as well as 60 ton vessels ashore.  One boat’s bowsprit punched a hole in a warehouse on Dauphin Street in Mobile, Alabama.  Property damage ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and total deaths were somewhere between 100 and 175.


    New Orleans Hurricane of 1831

         A large, powerful hurricane swept through the Leeward Islands and the Greater Antilles into the Gulf of Mexico during the middle of August, 1831.  As the storm advanced toward the Gulf Coast on the 16th, New Orleans lay in the most dangerous eastern quadrant of the hurricane.  The primary steamboat wharf at Pascagoula, Mississippi was swept away by the storm surge, and at New Orleans, the waters breached a levee in the lower part of the city.

         Hurricane winds lasted for three days and forced water from the Gulf of Mexico through Lake Borgne and into Lake Ponchartrain, causing the water in that lake to overflow into the low-lying parts of New Orleans next to the lake.  Water stood three feet deep in Treme Street and Esplanade Street at the height of the storm.  Most of the boats in port were damaged, and a great number of them drifted on shore.

         Barrataria Island was totally covered by the six-foot rise of water.  People living in the bayou areas took to trees and small boats for safety.  Some plantations went under water, but the sugar cane crop was not significantly affected.  There was no loss of life, either.


    Florida Panhandle Hurricane of 1837

         The sixth hurricane of the 1837 season was a rather small one.  About sunrise on August 31, however, its hurricane force winds struck Apalachicola, Florida.  The storm lasted until midnight, with the six foot storm surge washing over the wharves.  Between 20 and 30 buildings in Apalachicola were unroofed, and damage estimates were put at $200,000.

         To the east, the town of St. Marks, on the St. Marks River, took a severe beating.  One schooner was shoved into the woods half a mile from the river, and a 10-foot-high storm surge struck the lighthouse, wiping away all buildings except one.  As a result, 8 people were drowned.  The village of St. Marks was awash in water up to 7 feet deep with 3 to 4 feet of water in the warehouses.  Residents fled to a nearby fort to escape the rising waters.  Total damage there was placed at $30,000.

         To the east of Apalachicola at St. Joseph, a three-story building was blown down, and several houses were also destroyed.  Fortunately, no lives were lost there.


    Outstanding Hurricane of 1846

         After ravaging Cuba on October 10-11, 1846, a powerful hurricane headed for the Florida Keys.  Gale force winds hit Key West about 10:00 in the morning of the 11th with hurricane force winds arriving about 2:00 in the afternoon.  A Lieutenant Pease rode out the hurricane with 29 other men in a small navy ship in Key West Harbor.  By 4:00 p.m., the air was so full of water that no one could face the wind.  Houses, lumber and other ships drifted by, and the sea broke over the navy ship a number of times bringing lumber and other items onboard.  Hurricane force winds abated during the night, but gale force winds continued at midnight.

         Morning of the 12th found the navy ship aground on a shoal and surrounded by numerous other wrecked ships of various kinds and sizes.  Two people who had drowned were picked up but how many more drowned from the other ships was not known.  At Key West, the lighthouse was reduced to rubble, and there was a white sand beach where the lighthouse had stood.  At Sand Key, nothing was left to ever show there was a lighthouse there.  Water completely covered that bit of land.  All told, 20 people died at the two lighthouses. 

         The tide at Key West was five feet high and was running through the center of the town at a speed of 6 mph.  All the inhabitants of the town had run to the back part of it where the elevation was somewhat higher.  They went into the bushes, laid down and held on.  The marine hospital at Key West was a stone building, but the roof had been blown off, 32 feet of stone had washed away at one corner of it and 15 feet were gone at another corner.  Only about 6 out of 600 houses on Key West stood the storm well – the rest were either destroyed or unroofed.  Every wharf was either demolished or damaged, and all the warehouses were either destroyed or severely damaged.

         The Fort on Key West was a mass of rubble, and all buildings at the Fort were destroyed.  Estimated loss to the government alone was thought to be at least $200,000.  All streets and roads were impassable as they were covered with debris from all the wrecked buildings.  All told, the number of casualties on land and from ships at and near Key West exceeded 40.

         As the hurricane proceeded northward, it probably went between Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida.  Every sawmill around Jacksonville lost all logs, and every wharf at Jacksonville was destroyed, as were several buildings adjoining the St. Johns River.  The water rose 6 feet above the normal high water mark, flooding most of the stores on Bay Street which parallels St. Johns River.