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!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

As Texas Recovers From Ike - A Look Back to the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane

This image above is the real bridge to nowhere as the Great Hurricane of 1926 blew away the rest of the Haulover Bridge and cut Miami Beach off into the island that it really is when the storm surge from the strong Category 4 washed the rest of the bridge away.

Today seems to be the anniversary of the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. I say "seems to be" because with all of the attention on the recovery and reflection on Ike and the forecasting done on that storm by the powers that be I have almost forgotten what day it is..

It's been a blur of emails and images sent back and forth discussing Ike and hours spent watching live TV on Houston channels.

But... time moves on and Ike is almost a week ago yet the 1926 Hurricane that hit Miami was over 82 years ago tonight.

A category 4 hurricane like that hitting Miami today on the same path taking out both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale would be an economic nightmare and with the economy the way it is this week it makes me wonder if the insurance companies involved could pay out on such claims.

The 26 Hurricane came in at downtown Miami after ravaging Miami Beach and moved across the whole of the metropolitan area covering an area from Miami Shores, North Miami Beach, Hollywood Beach and Ft. Lauderdale. It moved across Hialeah and Coral Gables and out into the Everglades and kept on going making landfall a second time as most big Miami Hurricanes do and slammed into the whole of the Gulf Coast by hitting the Mobile/Gulfport and New Orleans area. Had the 26 Hurricane re-intensified over the Gulf the second landfall would have been as bad if not worse than the Miami hit.

I'm tired. It's been a long week for me. Can't wait for Shabbos tomorrow to take a break and rest a bit.

This is one of my favorite hurricanes to talk about or write about and yet tonight I find myself too tired to give it the attention it deserves. So, I will post some pics and some links and let others tell you about what was a strong hit by a slow moving, very wet storm with a very large eye that took 45 minutes to pass at daybreak. Because of the size of the eye and the timing people with little knowledge of hurricanes had no idea that they had not passed through a dark night of the storm and rushed out to find loved ones in other parts of the city and to check on their businesses as well. When the second side of the eye hit..known in records from that day as the "Second Storm" hit.. people were washed off causeways into watery graves or had trees fall and crash down on their Model T Fords while they tried to make their way down cluttered roadways looking for relatives they could not call or contact to make sure they were alive.

People left their homes and drove off to start the process of search and recovery only to find out the storm had not passed but was merely taking an intermission of sorts and instead of the theater dimming the lights a few times to let patrons know it was time to return to their seats before the next act people were caught unaware and left to the elements trying to get back to their home or to find some safety in the strong, backside of the storm.

Incredible accounts are written such of trying to drive down Ponce De Leon while trees fell across the paths of vehicles and many a loved one was killed in that vicious backside of the storm.. known then as the "Second Storm"..

Night was not over and the sky became as dark as night for a second time. The debris in the Miami River blown and moved there by the first storm surge tossed everything back the other way.

A policeman helped a woman stuck on the entrance to the County Causeway (now McArthur) from the Miami Beach side deliver a baby when she went into labor during the storm and then they took refuge at the Flamingo Hotel. People driving across the causeway on their way to Miami after the "First Storm" were blown off the causeway and died somewhere in Biscayne Bay. My Uncle told me of a story of the first half of the storm spent in a funeral home high up on a small hall with other families near the Miami River. After the sun came up and the storm stopped someone insisted on going to their store and checking on it and friends downtown. Old timers begged them to stay and wait to be sure the storm was over but they refused and a small caravan of cars left towards the Downtown District. The people in the last cars watched as the first few cars trying to get across the bridge were blown off and into the river below. People got out on foot, leaving their cars behind and made their way back to the funeral home crawling on their knees at times, hiding from the wind to collapse inside with news of what had transpired on the entrance to the bridge crossing the river.

Miami was young then, it had just turned a mere 30 years old but had suddenly grown up during the Hurricane and it faced it's own mortality in ways.

After the Miami Hurricane people rebuilt, some left, most stayed and they hunkered down and rebuilt Miami slowly to be a stronger, better city dedicated to it's future not just another boom time town.

IF a strong Category 4 Hurricane was to take that same path today... not sure how long it would take to rebuild the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area but it would be similar to Katrina after New Orleans. Rebuilding Galveston is easier after a strong 2 than rebuilding a major metropolitan area after a strong 4 and the area of strong hurricane force winds in the 1926 storm was much bigger than that in Ike.

Ike was large for overall cloud cover but it's central core of strongest winds was small.

Andrew was small.

The 1926 Hurricane had a massive core that took out a swatch ... no a chunk of SE Florida the likes of which we have not seen since and hope never to see again.

A great comparison Dr. Chris Landsea gave a few years back is posted below that i was lucky enough to see him give while listening to Dr. Paul George talk about the 1926 Hurricane. When you take the 1926 hurricane and place it over South Florida it eclipses Andrew in size.

We can only imagine what would have happened had Hurricane Andrew had crashed onshore on Miami Beach at the Fountainbleau Hotel and moved west across Downtown Miami, Overtown, Little Havana and west into it's heart and soul of bedroom suburbs where Miamians live. The financial district would be destroyed as would the homes of the people who work and commute and make this city the great beautiful city it is today.

Read and think and imagine....

Sweet dreams... sweet tropical dreams.

ps... there is a wave in the Carib that could develop this weekend into a named storm. Possibly. We'll see... could happen. September Remember...


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