Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Hurricane History. Camille. Andrew. Donna. Betsy. Miami in the Roaring 20s and the Rocking 60s. NC Fran, Hazel, SC Carolina... Knowledge is Power and History Repeats

June 1st is a hurricane historian's dream.
Nonstop footage on TWC of top hurricanes.
Local channels do stories.
Friends talk online.
Jim Williams does his kick off show at Hurricane City.
It will be archived watch out for it.
Jim and his cohort Bill Phillips shoot the tropical breeze.
I'm going to talk hurricanes and history here in this post.
Please read the previous post for information on the yellow circle in the GOM.
Oh and to see how the remnants of Bonnie are doing.
Yes I said yellow circle in the GOM
As we search for Colin on June 1st, 2016

The best part of shooting the breeze is so many topics come up that need discussion. You get a few people together who talk hurricanes and so many subjects come up, the mind starts spinning and your brain is flying fast down the highway dreaming of possible hurricane scenarios. I agree with Jim Williams .... wow Savannah in a hurricane. Filming from the bluff overlooking the river would be incredible. Wilmington NC is another river city in the South yet Wilmington makes TWC more often and knows Cantore by his first name.

Jim Williams spoke of "weathergirl" on Canetalk a message board hosted by  who mentioned to Jim recently that her whole neighborhood has construction going on. If a storm were to hit a lot of those building materials would go flying in the hurricane wind. One thing you don't need are more projectiles picked up by the screaming winds slamming into the side of condos and ..or... office buildings nearby. South Florida was shocked from the damage a relatively minor storm like Wilma did to office buildings in both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Wilma was stronger at other times but a storm of her strength should not have done those windows in so badly.

A category 2 Hurricane

People just don't realize how much damage a Cat 2 can do in a metro area.

Jim spoke on the Dry May theory which really only relates to Cape Verde type storms coming in from the ESE under the large High Pressure system that sometimes sets up early in May and stays for months well into the Hurricane Season. Often in what we call "wet years" Miami and South Florida is more prone to a hit from the SW up out of the Caribbean. Years when troughs are set up and cold fronts keep coming a lot like this year in particular.

The Weather Channel has a special on as I type this and they are repeating it all night it seems about the top 10 Hurricanes. They are showing footage of Hurricane Andrew, replaying audio of Bryan Norcross speaking and I am immediately transported back to the upper alcove on the 2nd floor where my family rode out Hurricane Andrew on Miami Beach. I remember him speaking, we listened to every word he said over the roar the wind as we hunkered down in relative safety. Relative being a big word this year it seems. He was our eyes, our ears and he saved our sanity as well as our lives. Miami is forever grateful he is our hero. I'll say this over and over knowledge is power and he gave us knowledge, he shared knowledge.

TWC is talking on the 1926 Miami Hurricane. The only real example we have of a strong Category 4 Hurricane hitting a major metropolitan area. Miami was a boom town in 1926, a lot of people here in shanty town structures busy with construction jobs on the big beautiful Roaring 20s hotels. No hurricane would be more expensive in today dollars than the 1926 Miami Great Hurricane that happened 90 years ago this September. $160 Million Dollars or more is the guesstimate on what today's cost would be. It's only a guess... 

Galveston, before Houston existed, was the Wall Street of the Gulf Coast. It also was the main port of entry for that region as anyone doing genealogy soon learns. Galveston was all that at the turn of the century and then it was nothing for years until he recovered. Houston opened up the folly of the Houston Ship Channel and the boats went up the river and never really came back. Houston became the main port of Texas and a huge financial city while Galveston was relegated to a cute place you went in the Summer to play at the beach or ride on the carousel. A wonderful place to go and visit but it's no longer the Wall Street of the South.

Jim is talking on Southwest Florida and how populated the area has become since the last big hit and when he says big he means size not Charley. As Bill Phillips says Charley was more like a tornado hurricane than a Hurricane Donna or Floyd. The whole area from Naples to St. Pete that includes Tampa Bay Metro area is huge in population and most of the population has never really seen a real hurricane. They've heard stories from people who remember the stories the Old Timers told. But nothing has hit in so long they have Hurricane Amnesia indeed. Probably Tampa Bay and Jacksonville Florida are the worst where that is concerned. A random set up will appear and steer a hurricane towards them one day and they won't believe it's going to play out. Dangerous situation indeed.

On the other hand............... Let's do a math project. 

Hurricane Andrew 1992
Hurricane Betsy     1965
Time between ...       27 years

Hurricane Wilma   2005
Hurricane Andrew 1992
 Time between ...   13 years.

Today...                 2016
Hurricane Betsy      1965
                                   51 years.

In 51 years there really were only 3 BIG Hurricanes in the Miami area that often gets brushed by tropical storms and minimal hurricanes that seem weaker than a strong Miami Monsoon in May.

Betsy in fact was not a CAT 3 or 4 in the Miami area but it was a HUGE messy slow moving storm that impacted a large part of the area and well it's all a matter of perspective. Cleo the year before was small, compact, drier and moved faster.

You can read up on Hurricane Betsy. I chose 1965 and Betsy as a point to work with as Cleo the year before was not that huge a storm and Hurricane Donna impacted Miami but really was a Florida Keys storm as well as a storm that impacted the whole East Coast eventually.

Flappers danced and parties until the curtains flapped and the wind blew.
And they had to clean up before the party went on again.

Again this year is the 90th anniversary of the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. I'll be in Miami for it.

Picture downtown Miami, Brickell, Wynwood, Miami Beach, Hollywood FL
Everything in between like Coral Gables and Coconut Grove.
All impacted by a slow moving, large, wet Cat 4 Hurricane.
So much more to damage now.
In 1926 Miami was just being built up.
It's unimaginable and will happen one day.
Has happened more than once.. will again.

History repeats. 
Trust me.
If you live in Hurricane Country..... will get hit by a hurricane eventually.

I live part of my time in Raleigh NC when not at home in Miami. Raleigh was hit by Hazel and Fran and when I say hit I mean a sucker punch far inland. Charlotte NC was devastated by Hurricane Hugo and yet if you say Hurricane Hugo everyone immediately says it hit Charleston. It did slam into Charleston.. and it kept on going and going.  No trust me inland SC and NC are NOT prepared as they always feel they are safe and hurricanes always curve off before hitting the Outer Banks. Often hurricanes do hit OBX however sometimes they don't make the curve and they keep on going knocking down tall pines trees and taking out power for days.  Raleigh went without power for about 9 days in some areas after Hurricane Fran.. that hit down by the ocean and kept on going.

My point here in this post is to highlight the problems of Hurricane Season. The real problem of Hurricane Season is that people do not take it seriously and usually live in denial. While shopping at Publix in Miami before Hurricane Andrew .. more like a scavenger hunt as most of the stuff on your wish list was gone, gone, gone.. people told me "it's gonna turn away at the last minute like Hurricane David did..."  

People could not believe that Hurricane Andrew was really going to race across South Florida on it's way to it's second landfall in Louisiana much like Hurricane Betsy did 27 years earlier.

It's the 27 years in between or the ten years or fifteen years that creates hurricane amnesia. Too much of a good thing and trust me life in Miami is a good thing makes it hard to believe that in 6 hours it can all be wiped away for years. And it rarely happens and might not this year or next but one day it will. And that goes for NYC and all the towns in between that live along the hurricane coast. People in NY remember Sandy still but will they remember Sandy ten year from now or fifteen. In the 1950s and 1960s they were hit over and over by Hurricanes... then nothing much. 

That brings me to my last point of this long read post. Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Donna along with others created flooding all the way up into the Mississippi River Valley, Ohio River Valley and parts of Canada and or the whole East Coast. 

Donna 1960

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Betsy 1965

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Camille 1969

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As mentioned tonight by Bill Phillips there was flooding from Camille... NC and VA after it trekked across the Appalachians. 
He's from that area so trust me he knows the stories.
But for the rest of the world they remember LA & MS.

Perspective as they say these days... it's all about perspective.

1964 a year before Betsy came to down.
The year of Hurricane Cleo the Beatles came to Miami Beach.
Everyone came to Miami Beach.
Hurricanes even came to Miami Beach back then.

Luckily neither Cleo nor Betsy put much of a dent in the long term.
Though in the short term there was a lot of sand in the lobbies.

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Image of the famous Deauville Hotel about 6 months after the Beatles.
No that broken glass was not from wild teenage girls.
But from a hurricane named Cleo.

So much to say on the rocking 1960s in Miami.
The roaring 20s in Miami.
Both decades marked by memorable hurricanes.

Lastly..odd things mentioned tonight.

On Jim mentioned Key West.
It's been in his top grim list to be slammed by a Cane.
Okay being melodramatic but yeah it's on his list.
Oddly parts of Key West do not need flood insurance.
The backbone of the rock around Truman does not require it.
Electric is on fast there from their Keys Cooperative...
...yet parts of North Miami Beach need flood insurance on the mainland.
Go figure.
And our power was out from Wilma for almost 10 days.
Yet friends in Key West had their power up and running sooner.

Know your area and it's own oddities and requirements.
Talk to the old timers.
Ask them "so what do you remember from Fran?"
"Did Raleigh really have hurricane force winds in Hazel?"
"Was Miami Beach really under water from the 1926 Hurricane?"
Trust me kids of old timers know the stories by heart.

Something to think on... on the first night of the Hurricane Season.

Knowledge is power.
Start gaining knowledge over hurricanes.
Knowledge is your friend.
Hurricanes happen.
Learn how to out smart them...
...and enjoy paradise while you got it.

Besos BobbiStorm
@bobbistorm on Twitter

Ps ... The Roaring 20s were great in Miami ...
Until the Hurricane roared through....

Then everything new is old again!!
Hurricanes Happen.
Deal with it.

Ps. Home work!
Check out
Find the models that bring something tropical to South Florida soon ;)


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