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Subject: J6) What are some important dates in the history
of hurricanes and hurricane research ?
Contributed by Neal Dorst
- 1494 During his second voyage, Christopher Columbus shelters his fleet from
a tropical cyclone. This is the first written European account of a hurricane.
- 1502 During his fourth voyage Columbus warns the governor of Santo Domingo
of an approaching hurricane, but is ignored. A Spanish treasure fleet sets
sail and loses 20 ships with 500 men.
- 1565 A French fleet sent to support Ft. Caroline is devastated by a hurricane.
The Spaniards at St. Augustine massacre the colonists at Ft. Caroline
ensuring Spanish control of East Florida.
The British ship Sea Venture is damaged by a hurricane but manages
to find refuge on uninhabited Bermuda archipelago. The islands become a British colony.
- 1635 The Great Colonial Hurricane strikes the young Massachusetts Bay and
- 1667 The Dreadful Hurricane strikes the Virginia colonies.
- 1702 A severe storm (possibly a hurricane) strikes England.
Daniel Defoe gathers eyewitness accounts and publishes them in
- 1743 A hurricane prevents Ben Franklin from observing a lunar eclipse in
Philadelphia. When he later learns his brother in Boston experienced
the storm much later, he surmises that hurricanes don't move in the
direction that the winds are blowing. Also, Professor Winthrop of Harvard
makes first pressure and tide observations during this hurricane.
- 1780 The Great Hurricane leaves over 22,000 dead across the Antilles.
- 1815 Professor Farrar of Harvard observes winds as a hurricane,
known as the 'Great September Gale', passes Boston and concludes that the storm is a large, moving vortex.
- 1821 William Redfield observes counter-clockwise pattern
to damage across Connecticut following a hurricane.
- 1831 Redfield publishes his observation of 1821 hurricane
damage and theorizes storms are large, moving votices. He begins
compiling hurricane tracks.
- A major hurricane strikes Barbados. Lt. Col William Reid of the Royal
Engineers is sent to survey the damage.
Racer's Hurricane devastates much of the Gulf coast.
Reid publishes his "Law of Storms" which advises mariners on how
to avoid a hurricane at sea.
Reid establishes a hurricane warning network in Barbados.
The Smithsonian Museum organizes a network of weather observers
across the United States and its territories.
Andres Poey publishes a chronology of over 400 hurricanes since
the time of Columbus.
A hurricane wipes out the resort on Last Island, Louisiana.
Manila Observatory is founded in the Philippines with Fr. Faura
as its first director. Begins study of typhoons and creates an observing
Fr. Benito Viñes becomes head of Meteorological Observatory at
Belen College in Havana, and begins research on hurricanes. He
establishes an observing network across Cuba.
- The United States Government forms its National Weather Service
under Army's Signal Service.
The National Weather Service issues its first hurricane warning.
Viñes issues his first hurricane warning.
Viñes publishes "Relative Points of the Hurricanes of
the Antilles in September and October of 1875 and 1876", in
which he details using waves and cloud motions to forecast
Faura makes first typhoon forecast.
U.S. Weather Bureau established from Army's National
Weather Service. Made a civilian agency under the
Department of Agriculture.
The dealiest hurricane year in U.S. history, as the "Sea
Islands" hurricane kills 1000 to 2000 people, the "Chenier
Caminada" hurricane causes about 2000 deaths, and another
major hurricane strikes the Carolinas in mid-October.
Fr. Algue' publishes book cataloging and categorizing typhoon tracks.
The U.S. Weather Bureau establishes a hurricane warning center at
Kingston, Jamaica. After the Spanish-American War it's moved to
- Viñes' "Investigations Relating to the Circulation and Cyclonic
Translation of Hurricanes of the Antilles" published by U.S. Weather
A devastating hurricane strikes Galveston resulting in over 8000 deaths (or perhaps as many as 12,000).
- Edward Garriott writes USWB Bulletin H "West Indian Hurricanes"
based mostly on Viñes' work.
Weather Bureau moves its hurricane forecast center from Havana
to Washington, DC.
Cuba establishes its National Observatory under its Navy. Assumes
hurricane warning duties from Belen Observatory.
Grand Isle, LA is struck by a major hurricane, killing 350 people.
Cyclone of the Five Days ravages western Cuba twice. At first Belen scientists believe it to be two seperate hurricanes, but Jose Carlos Millas theorizes it was the same storm looping in the Yucatan Channel.
Oliver Fassig publishes "Hurricanes of the West Indies".
Sakuhei Fujiwara notes that hurricanes move with the larger scale synoptic flow.
- Over 600 deaths are caused by a hurricane striking the Florida Keys
and then Corpus Christi, Texas. Storm surge leaves lasting impression
on young Robert Simpson.
Fujiwara publishes paper on the interaction of two tropical cyclones
noting what becomes known as the "Fujiwara Effect".
Edward Bowie observes that most hurricanes move anti-cyclonically
around the subtropical ridge.
Charles Mitchell publishes "West Indies Hurricanes and other Tropical
Cyclones" in Monthly Weather Review. Traces many hurricanes to
disturbances near Cape Verde Islands.
Issac Cline publishes his major book "Tropical Cyclones".
- The Great Miami hurricane crashes into Florida causing tremendous
damage and a month later another hurricane strikes Havana causing
over 600 casualties.
The Lake Okeechobee hurricane kills nearly 2500 people.
Also known as the 'San Felipe' hurricane in Puerto Rico
where it killed over 300 people.
The Weather Bureau revamps its hurricane warning service, and divides
responsibilities between New Orleans, Jacksonville, San Juan, and
Washington, DC. Boston is added later.
- The Labor Day hurricane hits the Florida Keys with over 400 killed. This
is the most intense hurricane to have been recorded in the U.S..
The New England hurricane strikes Long Island and Rhode Island
causing over 600 deaths.
- Ivan Tannehill publishes "Hurricanes, Their Nature and History".
Fr. Deppermann publishes "Some Characteristics of Philippine Typhoons"
in which he presents a theoretical model of tropical cyclones.
Gordon Dunn demonstrates that most Atlantic hurricanes form from
tropical easterly waves rather than baroclinic zones.
The Weather Bureau's Jacksonville hurricane warning center is moved
to Miami where a joint center with the Navy and Air Corps is
- Major Joseph Duckworth flies his AT-6 trainer airplane into a hurricane
over Texas proving the utility of this method of reconnaissance.
The Great Atlantic hurricane sweeps up the eastern seaboard and
causes 390 casualties, mostly at sea. This is the first hurricane with
scheduled aircraft reconnaissance and the first radar depiction of a
hurricane eye and spiral rainbands.
- Major Harry Wexler and Lloyd Woods fly into Great Atlantic
hurricane and find that updrafts are confined to a small area
near the eye.
- Herbert Riehl and Major Robert Shafer find that large vertical wind
shear is inimical to tropical cyclone formation and development.
- Halsey's Third Fleet runs into Typhoon Cobra in the Pacific
with the loss of 3 destroyers and 790 men.
The Navy and Air Force begin identifying typhoons by women's names.
- Pacific fleet has another disasterous run in this time with Typhoon
- Major hurricane strikes Miami and travels up Florida peninsula.
Lt. Robert Atlas makes time lapse movie of Army radar scope as storm
The Navy and Air Force organize Hurricane Hunter squadrons in the
Atlantic and Typhoon Trackers and Typhoon Chasers in the Pacific.
Navy planes seed an Atlantic hurricane as part of Project Cirrus.
- Bob Simpson 'piggybacks' a research mission onto an Air Force
reconnaissance flight into a hurricane. This is the first detailed
examination of the upper level circulation of the hurricane core.
Four hurricanes over two years strike South Florida causing persistent
flooding. This leads to the formation of the South Florida Water
Eric Palmen publishes a study showing that hurricanes require at least
80 F (26 C) water in order to form. Same study attempts to map out
vertical structure of a hurricane from balloon soundings.
The Weather Bureau officially begins naming Atlantic hurricanes.
- Hurricane King strikes Miami and affects much of Florida.
- Hurricane Easy loops over Cedar Key, FL and keeps that
island under hurricane force winds for 18 continuous hours.
Simpson flies 'piggyback' research mission into Typhoon
Marge, measuring its warm core and record low pressure eye.
Tropical depression detected by camera on a Navy rocket. This
demonstrates the utility of weather observations from space.
- Hurricanes Carol and Edna strike New England in succession.
- Simpson schedules last of the 'piggyback' research missions on an Air
Force reconnaissance flight into Hurricane Edna, but is pre-empted
by Edward R. Murrow and his CBS "See It Now' crew.
- Hurricane Hazel slams into the Carolinas and causes destruction all the
way to Toronto. Grady Norton dies during the ongoing effort to
forecast this storm.
Miami office of the US Weather Bureau is designated the primary
hurricane center responsibile for forecasting and issuing warnings
for hurricanes in the Atlantic.
The US Weather Bureau founds the National Hurricane Research Project
which begins research flights into hurricanes the next year.
- Three hurricanes make landfall in North Carolina this year including
Hurricane Diane, the "Billion Dollar Hurricane".
- Joint Numerical Weather Prediction unit formed by US Weather Bureau,
Navy, and Air Force to use computers to forecast the weather.
- Tannehill publishes "The Hurricane Hunters" about aircraft
Riehl and William Haggard develop the first statistical hurricane
track forecast techniques.
- Julian Adem describes the "beta effect" on the motion of hurricanes.
Hurricane Audrey causes over 500 deaths in Louisiana and Texas.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas publishes "Hurricane", a popular history
about Atlantic hurricanes.
- Navy launches a radar-tracked 'Brango Ball' into eye of
Hurricane Helene. Later, the NHRP and the Air Force release
a balloon beacon into Helene's eye and succesfully tracks it
- First real-time hurricane track forecast made by computer.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center is formed in Guam, combining the
Navy and Air Force Pacific forecasting efforts.
- Dunn and researchers begin a five year program to study hurricane track
forecasts and evaluated various objective techniques.
TIROS I, the first experimental weather satellite, is launched and
promptly discovers an undetected tropical cyclone near New Zealand.
- Hurricane Donna roars through the Florida Keys and then up to North
Carolina and Connecticut causing 50 deaths.
- Dunn and Banner Miller publish "Atlantic Hurricanes", the most up-to-date
summary of hurricane science at the time.
The Research Flight Facility (RFF) is formed to manage and operate
the Dept. of Commerce's hurricane research aircraft.
- RFF aircraft monitor Hurricane Carla from tropical depression stage
all the way until its landfall in Texas.
- Dan Rather makes his mark covering the landfall of Hurricane Carla
sometimes from the seawall at Galveston. CBS network executives
- Navy and RFF planes seed Hurricane Esther.
Project STORMFURY is begun, a joint effort of the Weather Bureau, Navy,
and National Science Foundation to test if seeding hurricanes can
reduce their winds,
STORMFURY planes seed Hurricane Beulah with encouraging results.
- Victor Ooyama formulates his theory of tropical cyclone formation.
- Jule Charney and Arnt Eliasson formulate their CISK theory of tropical
Miller and Peter Chase create NHC-64, the first in a long line of
statistical-dynamical track forecast programs. It is first used
operationally during 1964 hurricane season.
Hurricane Betsy crashes through the Bahamas, Florida Keys, and Louisiana
killing 75 people.
Department of Commerce combines US Weather Bureau and US Coast
and Geodetic Survey to form Environmental Science Services
Air Force joins Project STORMFURY.
- US Weather Bureau's Miami hurricane forecast office separated from
regular weather forecast office and designated National Hurricane
Charlie Neumann and John Hope create a hurricane database of Atlantic
hurricanes later known as HURDAT.
- Harry Hawkins and Daryl Rubsam publish influential papers on the structure
and energy budget of Hurricane Hilda.
Ooyama creates 2D hurricane computer simulation.
- Project BOMEX attempts to define the air-sea fluxes in the tropical
- Project STORMFURY seeds Hurricane Debbie on two days. It is the
most successful implementation of the experiment to date.
- Hurricane Camille strikes Mississippi coast as only the second Category
Five hurricane recorded in US history. She leaves 260 dead in her wake.
- NHC director Simpson works with engineer Herb Saffir
to modify the latter's hurricane damage scale to include wind
speed regimes, creating the Saffir-Simpson scale.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is formed,
unifying many government oceanographic facilities and ESSA, including
US Weather Bureau, which is renamed National Weather Service.
- Fred Sanders' SANBAR, the first barotropic hurricane track
computer forecast model, is put into operation.
- A tropical cyclone rushing up the Bay of Bengal causes over half of a
million deaths in Bangladesh and India.
Richard Anthes creates the first 3D hurricane simulation.
- Navy Typhoon Trackers (VW-1) disestablished.
- Project STORMFURY seeds Hurricane Ginger. This is the last field
experiment carried out by the Project.
Neumann develops CLIPER, a statistical hurricane track forecast
scheme, used as a benchmark for other model's forecast skill scores.
- Roland Madden and Paul Julian describe a global scale pressure
wave which seems to enhance tropical convection known as the
Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO).
- Hurricane Agnes floods areas along the eastern seaboard causing
over 120 deaths.
- Bob Burpee publishes a paper explaining the origin and structure
of African easterly waves.
The Navy disbands its Hurricane Hunter squadrons.
- The GATE experiment in the east Atlantic measures tropical waves as
they come off the African coast.
- Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Australia.
Vern Dvorak proposes a scheme to estimate tropical cyclone strength
from satellite pictures.
A tropical cyclone in India kills over 10,000.
Neumann and Brian Jarvinen develop SHIFOR, a statistical scheme to
forecast hurricane intensity, used as a benchmark for intensity
forecast skill scores.
- The First Global GARP Experiment attempts to delineate a world-wide
profile of the the Earth atmosphere during two intense observation
periods in the winter and summer.
- Hurricane David chews a path of destruction through eastern Caribbean
islands and the Bahamas before brushing up U.S. East Coast.
- Hurricane Frederic intensifies over the Gulf of Mexico before impacting
the U.S. Gulf coast.
Hurricane Allen roars through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico as a
Category Five hurricane.
The first Synoptic Flow experiment is flown around Hurricane Debby to
help define the large scale atmospheric winds that steer the storm
- Anthes publishes "Tropical Cyclones, Their Evolution,
Structure, and Effects".
- Hugh Willoughby, Jean Clos, and Mohamed Shoreibah publish a paper on
hurricane eyewall cycles.
Project STORMFURY is officially ended.
- Hurricane Alicia forms from an old frontal boundary in the Gulf of
Mexico and hits Galveston and Houston.
William Gray and his Colorado State team issue the first hurricane
Willoughby, Bob Black, Stan Rosenthal, and Dave Jorgensen write
an assessment of Project STORMFURY which documents several flaws in
the assumptions in planning the experiments that call the results into
- Hurricane Gloria roars up the eastern seaboard threatening New York
City, but eventually makes landfall on Long Island.
The Air Force disbands its Pacific Typhoon Chasers squadrons.
Hurricane Gilbert has the lowest central pressure to date (888 mb)
ever estimated for an Atlantic hurricane just before striking the
Hurricane Hugo makes a direct hit on Charleston, SC and causes over 20
- BAM, the Beta and Advection Model, and VICBAR, a nested barotropic
hurricane track forecast model become operational.
Mark DeMaria and John Kaplan create SHIPS a statistical hurricane
intensity forecast scheme.
- Roger Pielke Sr. publishes "The Hurricane".
- TCM-90 Experiment attempts to define factors contributing to typhoon
motion such as synoptic winds and the beta effect.
TEXMex is an MIT/NOAA joint project carried out in the eastern
Pacific to examine the genesis of tropical cyclones.
- The Air Force transfers its Hurricane Hunters to the Air Force Reserves.
Hurricane Andrew levels parts of south Florida and causes over $26 billion
in damages there, in the Bahamas, and Louisiana.
- NCEP's Aviation model becomes operational.
- Super Typhoon Omar hits Guam causing $457 million in damage.
- TCM-92 Experiment combines satellite and aircraft observations to better
define tropical cyclogenesis.
- Hurricane Iniki hits Kauai in Hawai'i as a Category 4 storm.
In one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons in decades, Hurricane
Opal rapidly intensifies as it approaches the Florida panhandle, only to
weaken just before landfall. It still causes $3 billion in damage.
Rapid scan high-resolution satellite loops are made of Hurricane
Luis, showing eye structure and motion.
- The GFDL model becomes operational. It provides both track and
Both the NOGAPS and UKMET track forecast models become available
- Mark Powell and Sam Houston publish detailed analyses of Hurricane
High resolution dropsondes are released in the eyewall of Hurricane
Guillermo in the eastern Pacific. These reveal wind structure that
- NOAA's GIV high altitude jet becomes operational, allowing examination
of the steering flow around hurricanes from a greater height.
- Super Typhoon Paka ravages Guam causing $500 million in damage.
Hurricane Mitch kills more than 12,000 people in Honduras and
- NASA's Convecion and Moisture EXperiment 3 (CAMEX-3) is an
experiment run in conjunction with NOAA's Hurricane Field Program
to collects detailed data sets on Hurricanes Bonnie, Danielle, and
Hurricane Floyd causes a massive evacuation from coastal zones from
northern Florida to the Carolinas. It comes ashore in North Carolina and
results in nearly 80 dead and $4.5 billion in damages.
CAMEX-4, a NASA experiment run in conjunction with NOAA's
Hurricane Field Program collects detailed data sets on Hurricanes
Erin, Gabrielle, and Humberto and Tropical Storm Chantal.
- Stan Goldenberg, Chris Landsea, Alberto Mestas-Nuñez and Gray
publish a major paper in Science noting decadal swings in
Atlantic hurricane activity.
Hurricane Isabel leaves a path of damage from North Carolina to
Pennsylvania costing $3 billion and 16 deaths.
- Mike Black, Krystal Valde, and others publish a paper on
hurricane eyewall wind profiles based on GPS dropsondes.
- Powell, Peter Vickery, and Timothy Reinhold publish a paper on
drag coefficients in hurricane force winds.
Jason Dunion and Chris Velden demonstrate the delimiting
effect the Saharan Air Layer has on tropical cyclone
- Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley hit Florida
within 24 hours of each other. It's True.
- Four hurricanes, Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, strike Florida
in one year, setting a new record.
- After Hurricane Ivan's landfall in the Florida panhandle, its remanents
moved over the Atlantic, looped back across Florida into the Gulf of
Mexico, reformed into a Tropical Storm, making landfall in Louisiana.
In one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, 28 named
storms form, 15 of them hurricanes, seven of which are major, and
four reach Category Five status. For the first time the alternate
Greek alphabet scheme for naming storms has to be employed.
- NASA's Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes Mission is set to
investigate eastern Pacific disturbances, but is diverted to
examining the activity in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.
- Hurricane Dennis becomes the earliest major hurricane to form in
- Project IFEX examines transmitting detailed information in the
hurricane inner core in real-time to National Center for
Enivronmental Prediction for inclusion in intensity models.
- Hurricane Katrina submerges the Mississippi/Alabama Gulf coast
under a 27 foot storm surge killing 240 people. When New Orlean's
levees fail, it causes over 1500 additional deaths and $81 billion
- Hurricane Rita devastates the Texas coast, causing over one hundred
- Hurricane Wilma's central pressure reaches 882 millibars, the lowest
recorded value to date in an Atlantic hurricane.
- An Aerosonde is flown into Tropical Storm Ophelia, the first such
unmanned vehicle penetration of a tropical cyclone.
African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (AMMA) experiment
examines the wind regimes over western Africa and their role
in generating disturbances over the Atlantic.
- The NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses (NAMMA) experiment
similarly seeks to investigate these disturbances off the African
coast using aircraft and the CALIPSO satellite. These systems
were then handed off to NOAA IFEX scientists over the western Atlantic.
Hurricane Dean hits northern Belize as a Catagory Five storm.
- Hurricane Felix repidly intensifies in the Caribbean and smashes
into northern Nicaragua at Category Five strength. This was the
first time on record that two Category Five hurricanes made landfall
during the same Atlantic hurricane season.
- Humberto reaches hurricane strength just before making landfall
in northern Texas and only eleven hours after being named a
An Aerosonde is flown into hurricane force winds for the first
time into Noel off the Carolinas.
Hurricane Ike brings destruction to Cuba making landfall on
both the eastern and western ends of the island. It crosses
the Gulf of Mexico and then hits Galveston and scours the
Bolivar peninsula, causing over 100 deaths.
- Hurricane Paloma's rapid intensification is recorded by a
series of NOAA scientific flights before its landfall in Cuba.
One of the quietest Atlantic hurricane season is some time is
matched by minimal typhoon activity in the western Pacific.
NOAA adds 12 hours to its watch/warning lead time, issuing watches
48 hours before landfall and warnings 36 hours ahead of time. Removes
referneces to storm surge height from Saffir-Simpson Scale.
- NASA runs its Genesis and Rapid Intesification Program(GRIP) experiment
in conjunction with NOAA's IFEX field program along with a National
Science Foundation funded Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud-Systems
in the Tropics (PREDICT). Using a fleet of aircraft platforms the
joint effort documents Hurricane Earl from formation through Rapid
Intensification to decay.
Hurricane Irene makes landfall at New York City as a tropical
storm, yet causes over $16 billion damage mostly due to inland
flooding throughout New England.
Hurricane Sandy ravages eastern Cuba and eventually strikes the
Jersey shore as a hybrid system, causing more than $75 billion
in damage, making it the second costliest Atlantic storm on record.
Fitzpatrick, Patrick "Natural Disasers : Hurricanes" 1999
ABC-CLIO Publishers, Santa Barbara, CA
Ludlum, David "Early American Hurricanes 1492-1870" 1963
Lancaster Press, Lancaster, PA
Simpson, Robert ed. "Hurricane ! Coping with Disaster" 2003
American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC
Last updated May 14, 2013
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