Nine years ago, today, an EF5, multi-vortex tornado slammed into Joplin, Missouri. It formed at 5:34 pm CDT and dissipated at 6:12pm CDT. I remember this one, vividly. I had just moved back to North Carolina from Texas and was, literally, still unpacking. I was shocked at the devastation. ~Vic
[This] was part of a larger, late May tornado outbreak and reached a maximum width of nearly one mile […] during its path through the southern part of the city. This particular tornado was unusual in that it intensified in strength and grew larger in size at a very fast rate. The tornado tracked eastward across the city and, then, continued eastward across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Jasper County and Newton County. It was the third tornado to strike Joplin since May 1971.
[The] tornado killed 158 people (with an additional eight indirect deaths), injured some 1,150 others and caused damages amounting to a total of $2.8 billion. It was the deadliest tornado to strike the United States since the 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes, and the seventh-deadliest overall. Along with the Tri-State Tornado and the 1896 St. Louis–East St. Louis tornado, it ranks as one of Missouri’s and America’s deadliest tornadoes […]. It was the first F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri since May 20, 1957 [and] was only the second F5/EF5 tornado in Missouri history dating back to 1950.
It also ranks as the costliest single tornado in U.S. history.
Additional Reading & Sources:
May Tornadoes Struck Joplin Twice in the 1970s (Joplin Globe)
Joplin Tornado (National Weather Service)
F5 & EF5 Tornadoes of the US (NOAA)
Tornado Damaged Joplin From Above (The Atlantic)
Joplin Tornado (Tornado Facts Site)
2011 Joplin Tornado (Wikipedia)
Mike Bettes Has A Hard Time
While many folks are suffering from the damage brought about by Hurricane Dorian, including my own state, twenty-three years ago, today, another hurricane made landfall between 7:17 & 9:03pm EDT…Hurricane Fran. The eye passed over Bald Head Island and Southport.
Fran was the second hurricane to slam into the North Carolina coast in the same season. Bertha was a Category 2 hurricane when she hit just two months earlier. There wasn’t much time to recover from the first disaster before the second hit.
Due to a low pressure centered over Tennessee and the western extension of the subtropical ridge over the northwest Atlantic, Fran was steered onto a north-northwesterly track and gained speed. Moving around 17 mph, the center of Fran made landfall over the Cape Fear area on September 5th around 8:30 p.m., just southwest of Wilmington. At landfall, sustained winds were 115 mph […].
Fran caused major flooding from North Carolina to Maryland [to] West Virginia. The damage from Fran was so extensive that the name “Fran” was removed from the hurricane name list and replaced by Fay. North Carolina got the worst of the storm […]. The North Topsail Beach police station was washed away by a 12 foot storm surge. The police station was being temporarily housed in a double wide since Bertha wiped out the original building just a few months prior. Kure Beach Pier was destroyed along with the Emerald Isle fishing pier, while Bogue Inlet Pier lost 150 feet. Storm surge in North Topsail Beach created a 100-foot wide inlet. Topsail Island lost 40 feet of beach due to erosion. Swansboro and New Bern experienced 10 feet of storm surge […].
Hurricane force wind gusts were experienced as far inland as Raleigh. High winds damaged historical buildings. Classes at the University of North Carolina were canceled for a day and it was almost a week before the water was drinkable again. Strong winds and a saturated ground led to many trees being uprooted inland. This led to numerous houses being destroyed by trees falling on them. Over a million people were left without power. Almost two weeks after the storm, 150 secondary roads were still closed due to flooding and downed trees.
In the same way that residents of Columbia and Charlotte remember Hurricane Hugo‘s devastating inland winds, residents of Raleigh and most of the North Carolina inland coastal plain think back to Fran when discussing the strong wind a hurricane can bring well away from the coast. Fran was the worst storm to strike southeastern North Carolina since Hurricane Hazel in 1954.
My dad was nine years old when Hazel hit. He remembered being underneath his desk in elementary school. I was living in Durham when Fran hit. I thought the roof of the house was going to come off (I was living in an attic studio apartment on the west side of town, close to Duke Hospital and Duke University). That hurricane came straight up thru the middle of NC. Working in Law Enforcement, I was considered “necessary personnel” and when I got up to head in, Durham looked like a war zone. Interstate 85 was completely shut down and I wound my way thru town, west to east. Oh, the devastation. The Trooper Station I worked in had power but, my apartment went without for a week. I need to dig up the pictures of the damage and post them. They are in a box…somewhere. ~Vic
As Hurricane Michael, a Cat 4 monster, slams the Florida Panhandle (making history, today), the Great Hurricane of 1780 is still the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, with a death toll between 22,000 and 27,000+. Also referred to as the Great Hurricane of the Antilles, the 1780 Disaster and the Huracan San Calixto, it was one of four major hurricanes in the 1780 Atlantic hurricane season, the worst hurricane season in recorded history.
On October 10, the San Calixto Hurricane (official name) struck the island of Barbados with, possibly, 200+ mph wind gusts, making it an extreme Cat 5. The winds were so violent and so deafening that, reportedly, “people could not hear their own voices”. It felled most every tree, stripped the bark off the few left standing and nearly destroyed every house on the island. The specifics of the hurricane’s track and exact strength are unknown as the Atlantic hurricane database starts in 1851 but, historical records from Puerto Rico, Jose’ Carlos Milas (Cuban Meteorologist), NOAA and hurricane research from The University of Rhode Island indicate that the storm moved on to St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica and struck Guadeloupe. It turned towards Puerto Rico, hitting Isla de Mona and, later, the eastern portion of the Dominican Republic. The beast finally reached the Atlantic Ocean on October 15 after passing the Grand Turk Island. It passed Bermuda on October 18 and was last seen two days later off the coast of Cape Race in Newfoundland.
From Hurricane Science at The University of Rhode Island:
Coming in the midst of the American Revolutionary War, the 1780 hurricanes caused heavy losses to European fleets fighting for control of the New World’s Atlantic coast. A fleet of 40 French ships capsized off Martinique during the Great Hurricane, drowning approximately 4,000 soldiers. On St. Lucia, rough waves and a strong storm surge destroyed the British fleet of Admiral Rodney at Port Castries. Much of the British fleet was decimated by the three storms, and the English presence in the western North Atlantic was greatly reduced thereafter.
Other interesting October 10 history:
1845…..The Naval School (U.S. Naval Academy) opens.
1967…..The Outer Space Treaty goes into effect (yes, this is a thing).
Busy, busy day… ~Victoria