First off, I'm in Indiana and Mr. Billy Hurricane will only cause a few showers at its worst. I'm not going to have to worry about its 150 mph wind. Nope. It doesn't scare me.
Here's some info on some truly historic hurricanes:
- Hurricane of July, 1502--Was a storm that the great explorer and discoverer of American, Christopher Columbus, predicted would strike the island of Hispanola. He used his prediction to warn the Governor of Hispanola, Nicholas de Ovando, who had 30 ships in his fleet set sail back to Spain. However, the governor ignored him, and refused Columbus' request to stay in port at Santo Domingo. Within two days the storm struck in the Mona Passage between Hispanola and Puerto Rico, and sank 21 of the 30 ships, and killed approximately 500 sailors.
- Tempest of 1609--At the time that the first ever colony in the United States was being developed, a strong hurricane menaced the Western Atlantic in the weeks following the departure of a fleet with 500 colonists left Great Britain for the New World. The ships then met with the maelstrom head on, and scattering all the vessels. Most were able to survive the onslaught of Mother Nature except for the flagship of the fleet, the Sea Venture, which was deposited in the infamous "Isle of Devils." Nevertheless, those who were on the ship still managed to reach shore, and received a much better fate than those, who had already situated themselves in the colony. The story of the Sea Venture was the basis of William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest.
- Great Hurricane of 1780--This storm was one of several that year, which was one of the worst hurricane seasons in the era prior to record taking. Winds were estimated to be Category Four strength at 135 mph. This storm, which affected the Southern Windward Islands including Barbados, St. Vincent, Grenada, Martinique, St. Eustatius, and near Puerto Rico and Grand Turk Island, is believed to have killed approximately 22,000 people. Of that total, between 4,000 and 5,000 people were killed on St. Eustatius. Martinique had an estimated 9,000 people killed including 1,000 in St. Pierre, which had all of its homes destroyed.
- George Washington's Hurricane of 1788--This hurricane, which began its drive toward landfall after nearing Bermuda on July 19th, proceeded on a west-northwest course into the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and then into Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay region absorbed the worst that the storm had to offer. Most notably though, this storm is remembered for the way it was described by the father of the United States, and first president, George Washington. By the time the storm reached Washington's home in Mount Vernon, it was likely to have been a moderate tropical storm with winds about 50 mph.
- Miami Hurricane of 1926--This storm hit at the worst possible time for the fledgling city. Incoporated in 1896 following the extension of the Florida East Coast Railway by Henry Flagler, the city of Miami was at the end of its first boom period early in 1926. The storm also served as a lesson for those wishing to go outside during the eye's passage. Forming a few hundred miles to the East of the Lesser Antilles on September 12th, the storm passed to the north of Puerto Rico on September 15th. Accompanied by a late issued hurricane warning, the storm arrived in Miami on the morning of September 18th. Winds peaked at 128 mph, and the pressure in Miami fell to 27.61 inches of Hg, or 935 millibars. The storm surge ranged from eight to fifteen feet, and caused $150 million dollars in damage then, or $1.7 billion today. If a similar storm hit the Miami area today, it would cause an astronomical $87 billion in damage.
- Hurricane Hazel--A Category Four Hurricane that came ashore in North Carolina in October, 1954, and then brought hurricane force winds as far inland as Canada. Passing 95 miles to the East of Charleston, South Carolina, Hazel made landfall very near the North Carolina and South Carolina border, and brought a record 18 foot storm surge at Calabash, North Carolina. Wind gusts of 150 mph were felt in Holden Beach, Calabash, and Little River Inlet 100 mph gusts were felt farther inland at Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. Hazel carved a path of destruction that left over 600 dead, and damages exceeded $350 million 1953 U.S. dollars.
- Hurricane Hugo--This Category Four Hurricane at landfall, carved a path from the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean to Charleston, South Carolina in September, 1989. At one point in its lifetime, Hugo reached Category Five intensity with 160 mph winds, and a minimum central pressure of 27.11 inches of Hg. Rapidly intensifying over the Gulf Stream, it came ashore in South Carolina with 135 mph winds. This storm ranks currently second all time in terms of estimated damage at $7 billion dollars.
- Hurricane Andrew--This is probably the most recent memorable hurricanes in modern history. After struggling to develop in the Atlantic, this Category Five Hurricane rapidly developed over the Gulf Stream, and devastated South Florida with 165 mph winds on August 24, 1992. It was the costliest natural disaster on record with some $30 billion dollars in damage.