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Subject: J6) What are some important dates in the history of hurricanes and hurricane research ?

Contributed by Neal Dorst

Hurricane Timeline

  • 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.
  • 1609
    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 Plymouth colonies.
  • 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 "The Storm".
  • 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.
  • 1837 Racer's Hurricane devastates much of the Gulf coast.
  • 1838 Reid publishes his "Law of Storms" which advises mariners on how to avoid a hurricane at sea.
  • 1847 Reid establishes a hurricane warning network in Barbados.
  • 1848 The Smithsonian Museum organizes a network of weather observers across the United States and its territories.
  • 1855 Andres Poey publishes a chronology of over 400 hurricanes since the time of Columbus.
  • 1856 A hurricane wipes out the resort on Last Island, Louisiana.
  • 1865 Manila Observatory is founded in the Philippines with Fr. Faura as its first director. Begins study of typhoons and creates an observing network.
  • 1870
    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.
  • 1873 The National Weather Service issues its first hurricane warning.
  • 1875 Viñes issues his first hurricane warning.
  • 1877 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 hurricanes.
  • 1879 Faura makes first typhoon forecast.
  • 1890 U.S. Weather Bureau established from Army's National Weather Service. Made a civilian agency under the Department of Agriculture.
  • 1893 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.
  • 1897 Fr. Algue' publishes book cataloging and categorizing typhoon tracks.
  • 1898 The U.S. Weather Bureau establishes a hurricane warning center at Kingston, Jamaica. After the Spanish-American War it's moved to Havana.
  • Viñes' "Investigations Relating to the Circulation and Cyclonic Translation of Hurricanes of the Antilles" published by U.S. Weather Bureau.
  • 1900 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.
  • 1902 Weather Bureau moves its hurricane forecast center from Havana to Washington, DC.
  • 1906
    Cuba establishes its National Observatory under its Navy. Assumes hurricane warning duties from Belen Observatory.
  • 1909 Grand Isle, LA is struck by a major hurricane, killing 350 people.
  • 1910 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.
  • 1913 Oliver Fassig publishes "Hurricanes of the West Indies".
  • 1919 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.
  • 1921 Fujiwara publishes paper on the interaction of two tropical cyclones noting what becomes known as the "Fujiwara Effect".
  • 1922 Edward Bowie observes that most hurricanes move anti-cyclonically around the subtropical ridge.
  • 1924 Charles Mitchell publishes "West Indies Hurricanes and other Tropical Cyclones" in Monthly Weather Review. Traces many hurricanes to disturbances near Cape Verde Islands.
  • 1926 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.
  • 1928 The Lake Okeechobee hurricane kills nearly 2500 people. Also known as the 'San Felipe' hurricane in Puerto Rico where it killed over 300 people.
  • 1935 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..
  • 1938 The New England hurricane strikes Long Island and Rhode Island causing over 600 deaths.
  • Ivan Tannehill publishes "Hurricanes, Their Nature and History".
  • 1939 Fr. Deppermann publishes "Some Characteristics of Philippine Typhoons" in which he presents a theoretical model of tropical cyclones.
  • 1940
    Gordon Dunn demonstrates that most Atlantic hurricanes form from tropical easterly waves rather than baroclinic zones.
  • 1943 The Weather Bureau's Jacksonville hurricane warning center is moved to Miami where a joint center with the Navy and Air Corps is established.
  • Major Joseph Duckworth flies his AT-6 trainer airplane into a hurricane over Texas proving the utility of this method of reconnaissance.
  • 1944 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.
  • 1945 The Navy and Air Force begin identifying typhoons by women's names.
  • Pacific fleet has another disasterous run in this time with Typhoon Viper.
  • Major hurricane strikes Miami and travels up Florida peninsula. Lt. Robert Atlas makes time lapse movie of Army radar scope as storm approaches Orlando.
  • 1946 The Navy and Air Force organize Hurricane Hunter squadrons in the Atlantic and Typhoon Trackers and Typhoon Chasers in the Pacific.
  • 1947 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.
  • 1947-1948 Four hurricanes over two years strike South Florida causing persistent flooding. This leads to the formation of the South Florida Water Management District.
  • 1948 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.
  • 1950 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.
  • 1951 Simpson flies 'piggyback' research mission into Typhoon Marge, measuring its warm core and record low pressure eye.
  • 1954
    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.
  • 1955 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 reconnaissance.
  • 1956 Riehl and William Haggard develop the first statistical hurricane track forecast techniques.
  • Julian Adem describes the "beta effect" on the motion of hurricanes.
  • 1957 Hurricane Audrey causes over 500 deaths in Louisiana and Texas.
  • 1958 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 remotely.
  • First real-time hurricane track forecast made by computer.
  • 1959 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.
  • 1960 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.
  • 1961 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 take note.
  • Navy and RFF planes seed Hurricane Esther.
  • 1962 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,
  • 1963 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 cyclone formation.
  • 1964 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.
  • 1965 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 Administration (ESSA).
  • 1967 Air Force joins Project STORMFURY.
  • US Weather Bureau's Miami hurricane forecast office separated from regular weather forecast office and designated National Hurricane Center (NHC).
  • 1968 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.
  • 1969 Ooyama creates 2D hurricane computer simulation.
  • Project BOMEX attempts to define the air-sea fluxes in the tropical Atlantic.
  • 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.
  • 1970 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.
  • 1971 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.
  • 1972 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.
  • 1974 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.
  • 1975 Vern Dvorak proposes a scheme to estimate tropical cyclone strength from satellite pictures.
  • 1977 A tropical cyclone in India kills over 10,000.
  • 1979 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.
  • 1980 Hurricane Allen roars through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico as a Category Five hurricane.
  • 1982 The first Synoptic Flow experiment is flown around Hurricane Debby to help define the large scale atmospheric winds that steer the storm using dropsondes.
  • Anthes publishes "Tropical Cyclones, Their Evolution, Structure, and Effects".
  • Hugh Willoughby, Jean Clos, and Mohamed Shoreibah publish a paper on hurricane eyewall cycles.
  • 1983 Project STORMFURY is officially ended.
  • Hurricane Alicia forms from an old frontal boundary in the Gulf of Mexico and hits Galveston and Houston.
  • 1984 William Gray and his Colorado State team issue the first hurricane seasonal forecast.
  • 1985 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 question.
  • Hurricane Gloria roars up the eastern seaboard threatening New York City, but eventually makes landfall on Long Island.
  • 1987 The Air Force disbands its Pacific Typhoon Chasers squadrons.
  • 1988 Hurricane Gilbert has the lowest central pressure to date (888 mb) ever estimated for an Atlantic hurricane just before striking the Yucatan peninsula.
  • 1989 Hurricane Hugo makes a direct hit on Charleston, SC and causes over 20 casualties.
  • BAM, the Beta and Advection Model, and VICBAR, a nested barotropic hurricane track forecast model become operational.
  • 1990 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.
  • 1991 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.
  • 1992 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.
  • 1995 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 intensity forecasts.
  • 1996 Both the NOGAPS and UKMET track forecast models become available to NHC.
  • Mark Powell and Sam Houston publish detailed analyses of Hurricane Andrew.
  • 1997 High resolution dropsondes are released in the eyewall of Hurricane Guillermo in the eastern Pacific. These reveal wind structure that surprise scientists.
  • 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.
  • 1998 Hurricane Mitch kills more than 12,000 people in Honduras and Nicaragua.
  • 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 Georges.
  • 1999 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.
  • 2001 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.
  • 2003 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.
  • 2004 Jason Dunion and Chris Velden demonstrate the delimiting effect the Saharan Air Layer has on tropical cyclone development.
  • 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.
  • 2005 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 the Atlantic.
  • 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 in damages.
  • Hurricane Rita devastates the Texas coast, causing over one hundred casulties.
  • 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.
  • 2006 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.
  • 2007 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 tropical storm.
  • An Aerosonde is flown into hurricane force winds for the first time into Noel off the Carolinas.
  • 2008 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.
  • 2009 One of the quietest Atlantic hurricane season is some time is matched by minimal typhoon activity in the western Pacific.
  • 2010 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.
  • 2011 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.
  • 2012 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.

    References:

    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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