Rahul Sharma

1950 Atlantic hurricane season

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First system formed  August 12, 1950
Name  Dog
Total storms  16
Last system dissipated  November 12, 1950
Total depressions  16
Hurricanes  11
1950 Atlantic hurricane season

The 1950 Atlantic hurricane season was the first year in the Atlantic hurricane database (HURDAT) that storms were given names in the Atlantic basin. Names were taken from the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet, with the first named storm being designated "Able", the second "Baker", and so on. It was an active season with sixteen tropical storms, with eleven of them developing into hurricanes. Six of these hurricanes were intense enough to be classified as major hurricanes—a denomination reserved for storms that attained sustained winds equivalent to a Category 3 or greater on the present-day Saffir–Simpson scale. One storm, the twelfth of the season, was unnamed and was originally excluded from the yearly summary, and three additional storms were discovered in re-analysis. The large quantity of strong storms during the year yielded, prior to modern reanalysis, what was the highest seasonal accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) of the 20th century in the Atlantic basin; 1950 held the seasonal ACE record until broken by the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. However, later examination by researchers determined that several storms in the 1950 season were weaker than thought, leading to a lower ACE than assessed originally.

Contents

The tropical cyclones of the season produced a total of 88 fatalities and $38.5 million in property damage (1950 USD). The first officially named Atlantic hurricane was Hurricane Able, which formed on August 12, brushed the North Carolina coastline, and later moved across Atlantic Canada. The strongest hurricane of the season, Hurricane Dog, reached the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale, and caused extensive damage to the Leeward Islands. Two major hurricanes affected Florida: Easy produced the highest 24-hour rainfall total recorded in the United States, while King struck downtown Miami as a Category 4 hurricane and caused $27.75 million (1950 USD) of damage. The two major landfalls made the 1945–1950 period the only five-year period to feature five major hurricane landfalls in the United States—a record that held until tied in 2000–2005. The last storm of the year, an unnamed tropical storm, dissipated on November 13.

Summary

The season officially began on June 15 and ended on November 15; these dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. This season was the first time that the United States Weather Bureau operated with radar technology to observe hurricanes 200 mi (320 km) away from land. Although the season began on June 15, tropical activity typically does not begin before August. The tropics remained tranquil through early August, and the U.S. Weather Bureau noted that the season had been "remarkably quiet". The inactive period ended on August 12, when the first tropical storm developed east of the Lesser Antilles. This storm received the name "Able" as part of the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet. (The same alphabet was also used in the 1951 and 1952 seasons, before being replaced by female naming in 1953.)

Before the end of August, four hurricanes had formed in the Atlantic, two of which attained major hurricane status. A major hurricane is a tropical cyclone with winds of at least 111 mph (178 km/h); a storm of this intensity would be classified as a Category 3 or greater on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale introduced in the 1970s. In contrast to the busy August, only three named storms developed in September—although three of the August hurricanes lasted into September. Hurricane Dog became the strongest hurricane of the season on September 6 with winds of 145 mph (233 km/h); its peak strength occurred over the open Atlantic Ocean, so it did not cause significant damage when it was at its strongest. It was among the most severe hurricanes on record in Antigua, where the hurricane struck early in its duration. Eight tropical storms or hurricanes formed in October, which is greater than in any other year.

In total, there were sixteen tropical storms during the season, of which five (Tropical Storm How, Tropical Storm Mike and three unnamed tropical storms) did not attain hurricane status. Overall, six major hurricanes occurred during the year. The Hurricane Hunters made about 300 flights into hurricanes during the season, the most since the practice began in 1943. The number of storms was above average; in a typical year, eleven tropical storms, six hurricanes, and between two and three major hurricanes take place. With the numerous major hurricanes, the season produced a high accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) of 211, although it was originally assessed as 243 before reanalysis. At one point, the 1950 total was the highest on record, before being surpassed by the 2005 season. This value is an approximation of the combined kinetic energy used by all tropical cyclones throughout the season.

Hurricane Able

The beginning of the hurricane season was inactive, with the formation of no tropical cyclones during June or July. In the middle of August a tropical wave spawned the first tropical storm of the year. Tropical Storm Able formed east of the Lesser Antilles on August 12, and strengthened to hurricane status on August 14. It likely formed earlier, as a Cape Verde-type hurricane, but data in the eastern Atlantic was sparse. Able gradually intensified as it tracked generally west-northwestward, and by 12:00 UTC on August 17, Able became a major hurricane. Initially, Able was thought to pose a threat to the Bahamas and Florida. Instead, the hurricane turned to the northwest, reaching its peak intensity as a strong Category 3 hurricane, and later turned to the northeast, passing just offshore Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Cape Cod. Steadily weakening and accelerating, Able struck Nova Scotia as a minimal hurricane, and later struck Newfoundland as an extratropical storm. It dissipated early on August 24 in the far northern Atlantic Ocean.

Along the coast of North Carolina, the hurricane produced light winds and rough waves, as well as moderate precipitation. Heavier rainfall occurred in southern New England, causing flooding in portions of New York City and producing slick roads that caused nine traffic fatalities. Able produced hurricane-force winds in Nova Scotia, and damage across Canada totaled over $1 million (1950 CAD, $10.4 million 2017 USD) in the agriculture, communications, and fishing industries. Two people died in Canada when their raft was overturned.

Hurricane Baker

Tropical Storm Baker developed on August 18 east of the Lesser Antilles. It moved northwestward and later turned to the west, attaining hurricane status on August 21. The next day, the hurricane attained Category 2 intensity just as it crossed over Antigua, where heavy damage was reported. More than 100 homes were damaged or destroyed, which left thousands homeless. Afterward, the hurricane began to weaken, and later on August 22 its winds decreased to tropical storm status. The cyclone then struck Montserrat as a strong tropical storm. The next day it struck southwestern Puerto Rico, and shortly thereafter weakened into a tropical depression, passing over the Dominican Republic. Baker turned more to the west, re-attaining tropical storm status before striking eastern Cuba on August 24. In Cuba, 37 people died, and the property losses reached several million dollars.

On August 25, Baker weakened to tropical depression status while crossing Cuba, but soon thereafter regained tropical storm intensity in the western Caribbean Sea. Two days later, Baker entered the Gulf of Mexico, and by the next day Baker had regained hurricane status. It turned northward, reaching a peak intensity of 105 mph (169 km/h) on August 30. Baker weakened slightly before making landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama with winds of 85 mph (140 km/h) on August 31. Property and crop damage totaled $2.55 million (1950 USD), primarily between Mobile, Alabama and Saint Marks, Florida. Torrential rainfall fell throughout the region, with the largest total occurring in Caryville, Florida, where 15.49 in (393 mm) of precipitation were recorded. The heavy precipitation was responsible for extensive crop damage across the region. The hurricane also spawned two tornadoes, one of which destroyed four houses and a building in Apalachicola, Florida. In Birmingham, Alabama, high wind downed power lines, which caused one death and two injuries due to live wires. While inland, Baker tracked northwestward and eventually dissipated over southeastern Missouri on September 1.

Hurricane Charlie

Hurricane Charlie developed on August 21 to the southwest of the Cape Verde islands, although this was discovered in subsequent analyses—at the time, the Weather Bureau did not consider Charlie to be a tropical cyclone until almost a week later. For four days, the storm tracked generally to the west as a weak tropical storm. On August 25, it turned to the northwest and intensified, becoming a hurricane on August 28. The next day, after Charlie had turned to the north, reconnaissance flights from the Hurricane Hunters reported peak winds of 115 mph (185 km/h) about 450 mi (740 km) east-southeast of Bermuda. On August 30, the hurricane was posthumously estimated to have been a strong Category 2 hurricane.

On September 2, Charlie turned to the north and northeast. At the time, it co-existed with two other hurricanes, Dog and Easy; it is a rare occurrence for three hurricanes to exist simultaneously in the Atlantic. Charlie slowly weakened and lost tropical characteristics, and by September 5 Charlie had transitioned into an extratropical cyclone about 480 mi (775 km) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It dissipated later on September 5 without having affected land.

Hurricane Dog

Hurricane Dog is believed to have developed from a tropical wave that left the coast of Africa on August 24. Its first observation as a tropical cyclone occurred on August 30, when it was a 90 mph (140 km/h) hurricane; the storm is believed to have begun farther east as a Cape Verde-type hurricane, but was not detectable before August 30. At the time, Dog was located east of the Lesser Antilles, and it quickly attained major hurricane status as it moved to the west-northwest. Dog passed through the Lesser Antilles with winds of 130 mph (210 km/h). It was considered among the worst hurricanes in the history of Antigua, where thousands were left homeless. Damage was estimated at $1 million (1950 USD, $9.95 million 2017 USD), and there were two deaths from drowning in the region.

After passing through the Leeward Islands, the hurricane turned to a northerly drift with continued intensification. On September 5, it attained wind speeds that would be equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane on the present-day Saffir-Simpson scale, with sustained winds of 145 mph (233 km/h). Operationally, the wind intensity value was estimated by Hurricane Hunters at 185 mph (298 km/h) when the hurricane was located about 450 mi (720 km) south-southwest of Bermuda; this estimate is now believed to have been an overestimation of the peak winds in Hurricane Dog, though the storm produced enormous wave heights at sea.

Maintaining peak intensity for about 18 hours, Dog began a weakening trend as it made a sharp turn to the west. It accelerated to the north on September 10, and two days later Dog passed within 200 mi (320 km) of Cape Cod. Newspapers attributed heavy rainfall in the Mid-Atlantic states—which resulted in five deaths—to the hurricane. Further north, the hurricane killed 12 people in New England, and produced a total of $2 million (1950 USD, $19.9 million 2017 USD) of property damage. Twelve others died in two shipwrecks off the coast of Canada. The hurricane later became a strong extratropical cyclone, maintaining hurricane-force winds while passing south of Nova Scotia and eventually hitting Scotland with hurricane-force gusts on September 18.

Hurricane Easy

Hurricane Easy developed on September 1 from a trough in the western Caribbean, which persisted after Hurricane Baker moved through the region in late August. Moving northeastward, the hurricane crossed Cuba on September 3 and entered the Gulf of Mexico. Easy turned to the northwest and strengthened to its peak intensity as a Category 3 hurricane. At the time, Easy was located just off the west coast of Florida; however, a ridge to its north caused the hurricane to stall, execute a small loop, and make landfall near Cedar Key. Following the landfall, Easy moved offshore, turned to the southeast, and made a second landfall near Hernando Beach on September 6. The hurricane turned northwestward over the Florida Peninsula, and gradually weakened as it moved into Georgia and the southeastern United States. On September 9, Easy dissipated over northeastern Arkansas.

Damage in Cuba was minor, although large portions of western Florida experienced hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall. Yankeetown reported 38.70 in (983 mm) of precipitation in 24 hours, which was, at the time, the largest 24-hour rainfall total on record in the United States. The cumulative total rainfall on Yankeetown from Easy was 45.20 in (1,148 mm), which still retains the record for the wettest tropical cyclone in Florida. Damage was heaviest in Cedar Key, where half of the houses were destroyed and most of the remaining were damaged. The rainfall caused heavy crop damage in the region. Across the state, Easy caused $3 million in damage (1950 USD), the total was less than expected, due to the sparse population of the affected area. Additionally, the hurricane was indirectly responsible for two deaths by electrocution. At the time, Easy was also known as the "Cedar Keys Hurricane".

Hurricane Fox

Hurricane Fox was first discovered by Hurricane Hunters on September 10, when it was located about 1,000 mi (1,600 km) east of Puerto Rico. Subsequent analysis indicated that the system formed at least two days earlier. A small system, the hurricane moved generally northwestward and gradually intensified. After turning toward the north, Fox reached its peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (220 km/h) on September 14, as it passed about 300 mi (485 km) east of Bermuda. Following its peak intensity, the hurricane accelerated to the north and northeast. By September 17, Fox had lost all tropical characteristics, and later that day the circulation dissipated about halfway between the Azores and Newfoundland. Fox never affected land along its path. When Fox dissipated, it was the first time in 36 days without an active tropical cyclone in the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane George

George originated from a strong tropical wave when it was located several hundred miles northeast of the Lesser Antilles, and southeast of Bermuda. Forming on September 27, George initially moved toward the north, although it curved westward over the subsequent days. Initially weak, George began strengthening on September 30 as it decreased its forward speed. The next day, while remaining nearly stationary, a nearby ship reported that George had reached hurricane status. It continued moving very slowly, passing only 100 mi (160 km) south of Bermuda. The island experienced winds of 30 to 40 mph (40 to 65 km/h). Aside from rainbands, little impact was reported on Bermuda.

The hurricane passed west of Bermuda on October 3. A day later, George reached its maximum intensity, attaining sustained winds of 110 mph (175 km/h); in its small eye, an Air Force Hurricane Hunter plane measured a central pressure of 960 mb (28.35 inHg). It accelerated to the north and later to the northeast, and on October 5 George transitioned into an extratropical cyclone. Shortly thereafter, it passed just south of Newfoundland, and on October 7 the remnants of George dissipated south of Iceland.

Tropical Storm How

A tropical depression formed in the central Gulf of Mexico on October 1, and quickly intensified into Tropical Storm How. Initially, the tropical storm moved west-northwestward and its sustained winds peaked by October 2. Officials advised small boats to remain at port along the Louisiana coast due to the storm. On October 3, Tropical Storm How turned toward the southwest as it began weakening, and the next day it moved ashore near La Pesca, Tamaulipas, as a rapidly weakening tropical cyclone. About six hours after making landfall, How dissipated over the Sierra Madre Oriental in northeastern Mexico. How was the only named storm in the season not to attain hurricane status.

Hurricane Item

On October 8, another tropical storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico just off the northwest coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. Given the name Item, the storm moved westward at first, and attained hurricane status on October 9. Reconnaissance flights by the Hurricane Hunters reported winds of 90 mph (145 km/h); soon after that measurement, Hurricane Item turned to the southwest. On October 11, the hurricane made landfall at peak intensity near Nautla, Veracruz, where wind gusts reached 110 mph (175 km/h). It quickly dissipated over land. In the sparsely populated area where Item moved ashore, the hurricane dropped heavy rainfall. Newspaper reports considered it the worst storm to hit Mexico in ten years, with damage in Veracruz totaling around $1.5 million (1950 USD, $14.9 million 2017 USD). The strong winds sank 20 ships, and although there were no reports of casualties, Item caused 15 injuries. Communications were disrupted across the region, and downed trees blocked roads. Near Tuxpam, the winds damaged large areas of banana plantations.

Hurricane Jig

A tropical storm was first observed on October 11 in the central Atlantic Ocean, northeast of the Lesser Antilles and southeast of Bermuda. Two days later, a ship reported strong winds and a rapid pressure drop, indicating a hurricane was in the region; the tropical cyclone was given the name Jig. It moved northwestward, steadily intensifying before turning to the north and northeast. On October 15, Hurricane Jig passed about 300 mi (480 km) east of Bermuda, and later that day its sustained winds reached their peak strength, which is considered to be highly uncertain. The hurricane began weakening on October 16. Jig became an extratropical cyclone later that day and quickly dissipated, never having affected land due to its small size.

Hurricane King

The origins of Hurricane King can be traced to the formation of a tropical storm just off the north coast of Honduras on October 13. Given the name King, the tropical storm was a small weather system throughout its duration. During its first 72 hours as a tropical cyclone, King initially toward the east and east-northeast. On October 16, King's maximum sustained winds reached hurricane strength while the storm was located between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. The next day, King struck Cuba near Camagüey with winds of 90 mph (140 km/h), equivalent to an upper-end Category 1 hurricane. The hurricane killed seven people and caused $2 million (1950 USD, $19.9 million 2017 USD) in damage throughout the country. After crossing Cuba, King rapidly deepened over the Gulf Stream as it turned toward South Florida, becoming the sixth and final major hurricane of the season.

After reaching the southwestern Atlantic Ocean, King turned northward and later northwestward, striking downtown Miami on October 18 as a Category 4 hurricane. It was the most severe hurricane to impact the city since the 1926 Miami hurricane. Across Florida, damage totaled $27.75 million (1950 USD, $276 million 2017 USD), of which $15 million (1950 USD, $149 million 2017 USD) was in the Miami metropolitan area. A preliminary survey indicated there were 12,290 houses damaged in the region, with an additional eight destroyed. Along its path through the state, strong winds were observed around Lake Okeechobee, with a 93 mph (150 km/h) gust in Clewiston. Overall, there were three deaths in the state. Early on October 19, King weakened to tropical storm status over north-central Florida, and on the next day it dissipated over western Georgia. There was one additional death in Georgia.

Tropical Storm Twelve

A tropical storm developed in the east-central Atlantic on October 17. It moved northwestward at first before turning to the northeast on October 19. The storm steadily intensified as it tracked toward the Azores, and it reached a peak intensity of 70 mph (110 km/h) on October 21. Maintaining its peak strength for 30 hours, the storm began a steady weakening trend before crossing through the southern Azores. It turned to the southeast, weakening to tropical depression status on October 24. Subsequently, the system turned to the southwest and quickly dissipated. This tropical storm was not considered to be a tropical storm at the time, and thus the system was not included in the Monthly Weather Review's summary of the 1950 hurricane season. It is unknown when the storm was added to the Atlantic hurricane database, although by 1962, the storm was included in seasonal statistics.

Hurricane Love

In the wake of Hurricane King moving northward through Florida, an area of low pressure developed into a tropical cyclone on October 18 south of Louisiana. This storm was given the name Love and quickly strengthened, reaching hurricane status shortly thereafter. The storm initially moved westward across the Gulf of Mexico, but soon swung southward into the central portion of the Gulf on October 19. Hurricane Love's maximum sustained winds are believed to have reached their peak intensity early on October 20. Throughout the hurricane's track, dry air infringed on the western side of the tropical cyclone's circulation, which produced unfavorable conditions for additional tropical cyclogenesis. On October 20, the storm began curving northeastward towards the coast of western Florida; however, the dry air completely circled Love's center of circulation, drastically weakening the cyclone in the process. On October 21, Love weakened to a tropical storm, and it struck the Big Bend region of Florida, north of Cedar Key. At the time, its winds were only of moderate gale force, and the storm dissipated shortly thereafter.

Certain areas began preparing for the storm along Florida's west coast. Hospitals set up emergency facilities in case of power failure, and some coastal residents left their homes. Initially, the storm was forecast to strike the Tampa area, but missed to the north as it weakened. It reportedly left little damage in the sparsely populated land where it made landfall.

Tropical Storm Mike

Mike was not classified as a tropical storm until post-analysis.

Tropical Storm Fifteen

Only existed for two days.

Tropical Storm Sixteen

Sparse information on this storm. Only existed for two days, just like Fifteen.

Storm names

This was the first season in the Atlantic hurricane database in which cyclones that attained at least tropical storm status were given names. The names used to name storms during the 1950 season were taken from the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet, which was also used in the 1951 and 1952 hurricane seasons before being replaced by female names in 1953. Names that were not assigned are marked in gray.

References

1950 Atlantic hurricane season Wikipedia


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