The season featured twelve named storms and eight of which strengthened into hurricanes. With six of those storms reaching major hurricane intensity, this was the highest number in a season on record, until being tied in 1933 and 1950 and then being surpassed in 1961. There were several cyclones that brought devastating effects, including the Nassau hurricane, the Louisiana hurricane, the Miami hurricane, and the Havana-Bermuda. Collectively, the storms of this season left over $267.4 million in damage and at least 1,554 fatalities.
Tropical cyclogenesis began on July 22 with Nassau hurricane, followed by the second storm on July 29. Only one system, the Louisiana hurricane, developed in the month of August. September was much more active, featuring the forth, fifth, six, seventh (Miami hurricane), and eighth storms of the season. On September 17, four tropical cyclones existed simultaneously in the Atlantic Ocean, three of which, in an uncommon occurrence, were then hurricanes. The Miami hurricane was the most intense tropical cyclone of the season, peaking as a 150 mph (240 km/h) Category 4 hurricane on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale with a minimum barometric pressure of 930 mbar (27 inHg). In October, the ninth and tenth (Havana-Bermuda) storms formed. One final tropical cyclone formed in November and existed until November 16.
The season's activity was reflected with an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 230, the forth highest value on record, behind only the 1893, 2005, and 1933 seasons. ACE is, broadly speaking, a measure of the power of the hurricane multiplied by the length of time it existed, so storms that last a long time, such as the forth hurricane, as well as particularly strong hurricanes, such as the Miami hurricane and Havana, have high ACEs. It is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 39 mph (63 km/h), which is tropical storm strength.
The first storm of the season formed early on July 22 about 200 miles (320 km) east of the island of Barbados and gradually strengthened into a hurricane a day later. At 00:00 UTC on July 24, the hurricane made landfall at Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, with winds of 105 mph (169 km/h). Weakening as it crossed Puerto Rico, the cyclone quickly regained strength on July 25 as it moved through the Bahamas; rapidly reaching maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (210 km/h), it attained the equivalence of Category 4 intensity—one of only four Atlantic hurricanes to have done so in or before the month of July. After peaking at 140 mph (230 km/h) with an estimated central pressure of 938 mb (27.70 inHg), based on ship observations, the cyclone struck the island of New Providence, the seat of the Bahamian capital Nassau, on the morning of July 26, with sustained winds of 135 mph (215 km/h). Weakening thereafter, the storm moved northwestward, paralleling the east coast of Florida, but came ashore near New Smyrna Beach early on July 28 with winds of 105 mph (169 km/h). Thereafter, the cyclone quickly diminished in intensity, becoming a tropical depression on July 29, as it curved west-northwestward over Georgia; three days later, it became an extratropical cyclone and dissipated over Ontario, Canada, on August 2.
In Puerto Rico, the storm produced hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall that flooded all the rivers in the southern half of the island; crops in the western portion of the island were greatly damaged, and the entire island was affected by strong winds. At least 25 people were reported to have died as a result. In the Bahamas, the cyclone killed at least 146 people and produced severe damage to the capital Nassau; it was called the worst storm to affect Nassau since the 1866 Nassau hurricane, also a Category 4 cyclone that struck New Providence and caused major flooding throughout the Bahamas. More than a week after the storm, 400 people were reported to be missing. On the east coast of Florida, the hurricane produced a large storm tide that damaged boats, docks, and coastal structures, and damaging winds destroyed barns and crops well inland; severe damage to structures and communications wires was reported at New Smyrna Beach, where the storm struck the state. The storm also produced heavy rainfall along the coast, peaking at 10.02 inches (254.51 mm) at Merritt Island. One person died from the effects of the storm in Florida. In all, the hurricane caused at least 287 deaths—the fourth deadliest July hurricane since 1492— and $16.4 million (1926 USD) in losses, at least $8 million of which were in the Bahamas. It remains only the second of three recorded hurricanes since 1851 to have struck the east coast of Florida north of Cape Canaveral from the Atlantic Ocean, the others being a hurricane in 1915 and Hurricane Dora in 1964.
Early on July 29, a tropical depression formed more than 1,200 mi (1,930 km) east of the Leeward Islands. Over the next few days, it moved west-northwest, becoming a tropical storm by 00:00 UTC on July 31. On August 1, the cyclone turned northwestward and began strengthening rapidly, reaching hurricane intensity by the early afternoon. The next day, it attained major hurricane intensity—winds of at least 115 mph (185 km/h), equivalent to the modern-day classification of Category 3 intensity—and over the next few days its track varied between north-northwest and northwest. Early on August 5, it reached a peak intensity of 120 mph (190 km/h), based on the pressure–wind relationship. It curved to the north and weakened, then passed about 80 mi (129 km) west of Bermuda on August 6. A few days later, it transitioned into an extratropical cyclone and then struck near Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, with winds of 75 mph (121 km/h) and a central pressure at or below 1,000 mb (29.5 inHg).
Several ships recorded hurricane-force winds and pressures as low as 968 mb (28.59 inHg), though none entered the eye of the hurricane and sampled the lowest pressure in the storm. The system produced winds of 54 mph (87 km/h) on Bermuda as it passed very close to that island. About this time, five ocean liners near each other encountered the storm; some portholes on the Orca were damaged and 15 passengers were treated for cuts, bruises, and contusions. Off Nova Scotia, the cyclone produced an unspecified number of casualties, including the sinking of the schooners Sylvia Mosher and Sadie Knickle. Between 55 and 58 deaths occurred, including 49 from two ships crashing ashore Sable Island. In Nova Scotia, the storm downed trees and electrical poles, damaging some homes and leaving telephone service outages. Crops and fruit trees were also damaged. High winds also interrupted telegraph communications in Newfoundland.
On August 20, a low pressure area producing unsettled weather in the western Caribbean Sea, and centered about 400 mi (644 km) west-northwest of Maracaibo, Venezuela, was determined to have become a tropical depression. However, prior to scientific reanalysis in April 2012 based upon a 1975 report, it was not believed to have done so until two days later. Moving west-northwest, the depression strengthened to a tropical storm on August 21, and then turned northwestward while strengthening steadily. After brushing Cape San Antonio at the western tip of Cuba on August 22, the cyclone then veered to the west-northwest. Early on August 23, the storm became a hurricane over the southern Gulf of Mexico. Later that day, the cyclone continued to intensify and began curving northwestward. By August 24, with winds of 100 mph (160 km/h), it turned north. Early on August 25, the cyclone peaked as a modern-day 115 mph (185 km/h) Category 3, based on the pressure–wind relationship. In the afternoon, it struck west of Houma, Louisiana, at that intensity. Less than 24 hours later, the storm rapidly weakened to a moderate tropical storm and curved west-northwestward, weakening to a tropical depression on August 27 and dissipating over Texas.
No known effects were reported from the Caribbean due to the cyclone. On the morning of August 24, the United States Weather Bureau in Washington, D.C., advised that the storm was likely to make landfall between Galveston, Texas, and Burrwood, Louisiana. Late that day, hurricane warnings were issued from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Mobile, Alabama. Although small in size at landfall, the storm caused a storm surge of 15 feet (4.6 m) south of Houma and hurricane-force winds in a small area near the center. The lowest recorded pressure was 959 mb (28.32 inHg) at Houma, though this was taken inland and is not believed to have been in the exact center, as recent estimates place the central pressure slightly lower at 955 mb (28.20 inHg). Along the Gulf Coast of the United States, the storm caused $6 million (1926 USD) in damage to crops and buildings, with substantial damage to vegetation. In all, 25 deaths were reported, although extensive ship reports and timely warnings by mail, telephone, radio, and telegraph reduced the number of casualties.
At 00:00 UTC on September 1, an area of low pressure about 1,000 mi (1,610 km) west of the Cape Verde islands organized into a tropical depression, though prior to hurricane reanalysis it was estimated to have formed a day later as a tropical storm. Moving generally west-northwest over the next three days, the cyclone gradually intensified, first into a tropical storm on September 2 and later, based upon a report from the ship Stornest of hurricane-force winds and 990.5 mb (29.25 inHg), a minimal hurricane by 00:00 UTC on September 5. Late on September 7, the cyclone strengthened to a major hurricane with winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) and turned northwest; early the next day, the steamship Narenta passed through the eye of the storm and recorded a central pressure of 957 mb (28.26 inHg), the lowest associated with the cyclone. Thereafter, the storm for two days maintained its intensity while resuming a west-northwest track. Late on September 10, the storm abruptly turned north-northwest. On September 12, while centered about 400 mi (644 km) southwest of Bermuda, the cyclone briefly peaked at 135 mph (217 km/h)—equivalent to Category 4 intensity—though the cyclone was rather small and observations near the center were scarce.
Over the next two days, the cyclone headed north-northwest again and slowly weakened to Category 2 strength with winds of 110 mph (180 km/h), then afterward curved west-northwest for about a day. As the storm passed west of Bermuda on September 13, the island recorded a pressure of 1,006 mb (29.71 inHg). As a trough approached, the hurricane suddenly turned northeast late on September 16, and over the next three days, while located about 500 mi (805 km) south-southeast of Halifax in Nova Scotia, it executed a counterclockwise, S-shaped curve. It then weakened to a tropical storm, recurved northeast, and transitioned into an extratropical cyclone on September 22, whence it reacquired hurricane-force winds. The next day, the system weakened and hit Cape St. Mary's, Newfoundland, with winds of 65 mph (105 km/h). As an extratropical storm it continued north-northeastward until dissipating near Greenland on September 24. The storm produced a pressure of 994.2 mb (29.36 inHg) at St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador on September 23, along with gale-force winds along the coast of Newfoundland that affected an Arctic expedition led by George P. Putnam of the American Museum of Natural History. Strong winds in the province downed telegraph lines and demolished a post office in the town of Lamaline.
By 06:00 UTC on September 10, a strong tropical storm with winds of 70 mph (110 km/h) was first observed over the open Atlantic Ocean about 1,000 mi (1,610 km) southeast of Bermuda, but likely formed earlier and remained undetected due to a lack of ship observations. Over the next two days it headed north-northwestward and strengthened, remaining approximately 730 mi (1,170 km) east of Hurricane Four. Based upon a ship report of hurricane conditions—80 mph (130 km/h) from the east-southeast along with a pressure of 1,000 mb (29.53 inHg)—the cyclone was ascertained to have peaked at 105 mph (169 km/h), equivalent to Category 2 intensity, early on September 12, although no meteorological data were available near the eye. Shortly thereafter, the system began turning north and then north-northeast on September 13, followed by steady weakening. At 00:00 UTC on September 14, the cyclone diminished in intensity to a tropical storm and moved southeast, dissipating less than 24 hours later.
Early on September 11, a weak tropical depression formed in the western Caribbean Sea about 200 mi (322 km) east-southeast of the Swan Islands, Honduras. Without strengthening substantially, the depression moved west-northwest for the next day and a half, passing north of the Swan Islands based upon weather reports, and then curved northward. On September 13, the depression gradually curved to the northeast, and on the afternoon of September 14 it made landfall southeast of Cienfuegos, Cuba. The cyclone then crossed the central region of Cuba, entering the Bahamian islands in the evening. Shortly thereafter, by 00:00 UTC on September 15 the depression became a tropical storm and peaked with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 km/h). The cyclone then turned north, passing about 15 mi (24 km) west of Nassau in the afternoon. The weak storm then turned abruptly to the northwest, having been trapped by a building ridge, and early the next day, while centered north of Andros Island, it assumed a gradual curve to the southwest. Late that day, it degenerated into a tropical depression and dissipated over the Straits of Florida on September 17, as the Great Miami hurricane approached from just 550 mi (885 km) to the east-southeast.
In Cuba, impacts were minimal. The cyclone produced sustained winds up to 43 mph (69 km/h) and pressures as low as 1,004 mb (29.65 inHg) in the Bahamas. In South Florida, the cyclone did not produce tropical storm-force winds, although thunderstorms produced 1.20 inches (30.48 mm) of rainfall at Miami, Florida, on September 16. No severe effects occurred and the storm was not mentioned in the monthly notations of the local U.S. Weather Bureau office in Miami. However, its presence and that of the Great Miami hurricane, then of Category 4 intensity and in the South-Central Bahamas, caused confusion in the local press. On the morning of September 17, one day before the Miami hurricane struck, the Miami Herald published a front-page story on the weak tropical storm in the Straits of Florida and included statements by the editors that it was not anticipated to strike Florida; news articles on the hurricane, which was expected to deliver "destructive winds" to the area, were not published by other local newspapers until the afternoon, leaving Miami residents confused as to the extent of the danger.
By 12:00 UTC on September 11—just twelve hours after the formation of the preceding cyclone—a new tropical storm formed in the Atlantic about 1,100 mi (1,770 km) east of the island of Martinique, though it probably originated earlier and was undetected; operationally, the storm was not tracked until September 14. Steadily moving north of due west, the cyclone quickly became a hurricane the next day, and over the next three days, while bypassing the Greater Antilles to the north, it continued to intensify to a major hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph (179 km/h), yet few ships were near the eye with which to determine its path. On the afternoon of September 16, the cyclone peaked at 150 mph (240 km/h), near the upper threshold of the modern-day classification of Category 4, and shortly thereafter passed just 10 mi (16.1 km) north of the island of Grand Turk, striking Mayaguana at peak intensity early the next day. Continuing over the South-Central Bahamas and Andros Island on September 17–18, the cyclone, with winds of 145 mph (233 km/h), then struck South Florida near Perrine, 15 mi (24 km) south of Downtown Miami, shortly before 12:00 UTC on September 18, with its large eye passing over the Miami metropolitan area. Swiftly crossing southernmost Florida, the potent hurricane weakened slightly before entering the Gulf of Mexico near Punta Rassa in the afternoon, and its path gradually curved northwest on September 19. Late on September 20, its path slowed drastically and curved west, making landfall near Perdido Beach, Alabama, with winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) and a measured pressure of 954.9 mb (28.20 inHg) in the calm eye. Quickly weakening thereafter, the cyclone paralleled the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi, dissipating more than two days later over Louisiana.
Throughout the Bahamas, reports of damage were relatively scarce despite the intensity with which the storm struck the region. However, numerous structures were completely destroyed. The storm was attributed to 372 deaths in the Southeastern United States, 114 of which took place in Miami and at least 150 at Moore Haven, where a storm surge estimated as high as 15 ft (4.57 m) overtopped portions of a levee on Lake Okeechobee. Many people in Miami, transients who knew little of hurricanes, perished after examining damage during the passage of the eye, unaware that the back end of the storm was approaching. Flimsy structures built to house workers during the Florida land boom of the 1920s were completely leveled. The hurricane partially contributed to the end of the land boom, which was in decline by early 1926. In terms of monetary losses, damage from the hurricane was estimated to be as high as $125 million (1926 USD). Up to 4,725 structures throughout southern Florida were destroyed and 8,100 damaged, leaving at least 38,000 people displaced. A storm surge of 14 ft (4.27 m) occurred south of Miami and winds on Miami Beach were recorded at 130 mph (210 km/h) before the anemometer blew away. The lowest pressure was estimated at 930 mb (27.46 inHg), the seventh most intense in a storm to strike the United States. The storm also produced significant damage, rainfall up to 16.2 in (411.48 mm), and a storm surge up to 14.2 ft (4.33 m) in the Florida Panhandle. The entire state of Florida lost 35% of its grapefruit and orange crops combined, including nearly 100% losses in the Miami area. In a study of hurricane damage statistics conducted in 2008, it was estimated that if a storm similar to that of the Miami hurricane were to occur in 2005 it would result in over $140–157 billion in damage. In all, the storm caused at least 478 deaths along its path accounting for the revised toll in the United States since 2003. The storm's slow movement caused it to produce substantial effects to coastal regions between Mobile and Pensacola; these areas experienced heavy damage from wind, rain, and storm surge. Wind records at Pensacola indicate that the city encountered sustained winds of hurricane force for more than 20 hours, including winds above 100 mph (161 km/h) for five hours. The storm tide destroyed nearly all waterfront structures on Pensacola Bay and peaked at 14 ft (4.3 m) near Bagdad, Florida. Rainfall maximized at Bay Minette, Alabama, where 18.5 in (470 mm) fell.
Twelve hours after the Great Miami hurricane struck Alabama, the eighth tropical storm of the season formed in the east-central Atlantic about 2,000 mi (3,220 km) southwest of Horta in the Azores on September 21. Over the next three days, it moved north of due east and rapidly strengthened, becoming a minimal hurricane by 12:00 UTC on September 22 and later peaking at 105 mph (169 km/h)—equivalent to a moderately strong Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale—on the morning of September 24. For about 24 hours thereafter, the cyclone briefly curved to the northeast before turning sharply to the east early on September 26. Late that day, the cyclone swerved precipitously to the north, making landfall on the island of São Miguel near Ponta Delgada at peak intensity. Curving northwest and then south of due west, the cyclone weakened after striking São Miguel and reverted to a minimal hurricane late on September 27. It gradually completed a counter-clockwise loop through the western Azores, curving due south as a tropical storm, though its cool surface temperatures and enlarged size suggest it might have been a subtropical cyclone then. Just afterward, late on September 28, it hit Faial Island near Horta with sustained winds near 70 mph (110 km/h). Over the next two days, it moved generally south-southeast and slowly weakened, curving suddenly east-southeast beginning on September 30. Turning south of due east, it dissipated by 18:00 UTC on October 1.
Early on October 3, a tropical depression developed in the South-Central Caribbean about 100 mi (160 km) east of Serrana Bank and the Miskito Cays. It quickly intensified into a minimal tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64 km/h), the strongest in its life span. Curving west-northwest without further intensification, the weak cyclone made landfall near Barra Patuca in Gracias a Dios Department, Honduras, shortly before 12:00 UTC on October 4. Shortly thereafter, the storm gradually turned just north of due west, and early on October 5, after degenerating into a tropical depression, it made a second landfall over Belize just south of Alabama Wharf in Toledo District. Less than 12 hours later, the cyclone dissipated over eastern Guatemala.
On October 14 a tropical depression developed in the southern Caribbean Sea about 350 mi (563 km) north-northwest of Colón, Panama. Strengthening into a minimal tropical storm the next day, it gradually curved to the north-northwest over the next four days, becoming a hurricane on October 18. It then quickly intensified to a major hurricane early on October 19 as it turned northward toward western Cuba. Shortly before striking the Isla de la Juventud south of Nueva Gerona, it attained maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (233 km/h) on October 20. The cyclone then continued strengthening, peaking at 150 mph (240 km/h) before making landfall on the Cuban mainland south of Güira de Melena. The center passed just 10 mi (16 km) east of the capital Havana before entering the Straits of Florida about 80 mi (129 km) south of Key West, Florida. The cyclone then weakened and turned to the northeast on October 21, passing within 20 mi (32.2 km) of the Florida Keys while remaining east of Florida. Nearly two days later, about 48 hours after turning east-northeast, the cyclone passed over Bermuda late on October 22 with sustained winds up to 120 mph (190 km/h); Hamilton, Bermuda, recorded calm winds and 963.4 mb (28.45 inHg) in the eye, along with sustained winds up to 102 mph (164 km/h) with gusts to 138 mph (222 km/h) afterward. Three days thereafter, on October 25 the storm executed a clockwise, semicircular loop to the south-southwest, and a day later it lost hurricane intensity. Gradually curving to the west, the cyclone dissipated early on October 28, though it was once believed to have been an extratropical cyclone as early as October 23.
The hurricane inflicted devastation along its path, causing at least 709 deaths in Cuba and Bermuda. Upon striking Cuba, the hurricane caused catastrophic damage and as many as 600 deaths. Several small towns in the storm's path were completely destroyed and damage estimates exceeded $100 million (1928 USD). In the upper Florida Keys and on Key Biscayne, minimal hurricane conditions occurred, causing minor damage in South Florida. In Bermuda, 40% of the structures were damaged and two homes destroyed, but otherwise damage was light in the harbor. While weather forecasters knew of the storm's approach on Bermuda, it covered the thousand miles from the Bahamas to Bermuda so rapidly it apparently struck with few warning signs aside from heavy swells. On October 21, with the eye of the storm still 700 mi (1,130 km) from Bermuda, weather forecasts from the United States called for the hurricane to strike the island on the following morning with gale force. The Arabis-class sloop HMS Valerian, based at the HMD Bermuda, was returning from providing hurricane relief in the Bahamas and was overtaken by the storm shortly before she could make harbour. Unable to enter through Bermuda's reefline, she fought the storm for more than five hours before she was sunk with the loss of 85 men. The British merchant ship Eastway was also sunk near Bermuda. When the centre of the storm passed over Bermuda, winds increased to 114 mph (183 km/h) at Prospect Camp, whereupon the Army took down its anemometer to protect it. The Royal Naval Dockyard was being hammered and never took its anemometer down. It measured 138 mph (222 km/h) at 13:00 UTC, before the wind destroyed it.
Around 06:00 UTC on November 12, a tropical depression developed about 115 mi (185 km) north of El Porvenir, Kuna Yala, Panama. Moving northwest, the cyclone rapidly attained peak winds of 40 mph (64 km/h) early on November 13 but failed to intensify further over the next three days. Passing less than 50 mi (80.47 km) west of the Swan Islands, Honduras, early on November 14, the cyclone gradually turned north by the afternoon. Curving parabolically to the northeast on October 15, it weakened to a tropical depression early the next day before hitting the Isla de la Juventud in Cuba. 12 hours later, after striking mainland Cuba, it dissipated over the southern Straits of Florida.
Reports from the government of the Mexican state of Veracruz indicate that in late September 1926 a tropical disturbance formed in the northwest Caribbean Sea, then moved across the Yucatán Peninsula and the Bay of Campeche to strike Veracruz as a hurricane on September 28. The storm reportedly began with sudden fury at 16:00 UTC and produced unspecified winds as high as 124 mph (200 km/h)—if sustained, equal to those of a strong Category 3 hurricane—causing boats to be stranded, roofs to be torn off, and trees and electric cables to be blown down, though the worst conditions reportedly lasted only two hours. The reported storm ruined most of the seashore as a storm tide destroyed the local breakwater, including at the historic Hotel Villa del Mar in the city of Veracruz, demolishing most of the hotel as well as the yacht club there, and forced train service to be suspended. The city was flooded to a depth of 5 feet (1.52 m), but well constructed buildings in the city center survived the wind. Several ships were sunk in the harbor, and several sailors were feared drowned. However, a peer-reviewed publication in 2012, which reanalyzed the 1926 Atlantic hurricane season, did not confirm its supposed existence.