1854 Atlantic hurricane season
|Season summary map|
|First system formed||June 25, 1854|
|Last system dissipated||October 22, 1854|
|Strongest storm||Three – 938 mbar (hPa) (27.71 inHg), 130 mph (215 km/h) (1-minute sustained)|
|Major hurricanes (Cat. 3+)||1|
|Total fatalities||30+ direct|
|Total damage||$20,000 (1854 USD)|
|Atlantic hurricane seasons
1852, 1853, 1854, 1855, 1856
The 1853 Atlantic hurricane season featured five known tropical cyclones, three of which made landfall in the United States. At one time, another was believed to have existed near Galveston, Texas in September, but HURDAT – the official Atlantic hurricane database – now excludes this system. The first system, Hurricane One, was initially observed on June 25. The final storm, Hurricane Five, was last observed on October 22. These dates fall within the period with the most tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic. No tropical cyclones during this season existed simultaneously. One tropical cyclone has a single known point in its track due to a sparsity of data.
Of the season's five tropical cyclones, three reached hurricane status. Furthermore, one of those strengthened into a major hurricane, which is Category 3 or higher on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. The strongest cyclone of the season, the third hurricane, peaked at Category 3 strength with 125 mph (205 km/h) winds. After making landfall near the Georgia-South Carolina border, the storm caused 26 fatalities and extensive damage in the area. Hurricane Four caused four deaths and approximately $20,000 (1854 USD) in damage after striking the coast of Texas. Hurricane One also caused moderate damage in Texas.
The season's activity was reflected with a low accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) rating of 31. 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, as well as particularly strong hurricanes, have high ACEs. ACE is only calculated for full advisories on tropical systems at or exceeding 34 knots (39 mph, 63 km/h) or tropical storm strength.
|Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)|
|Duration||June 25 – June 27|
|Peak intensity||80 mph (130 km/h) (1-min) 982 mbar (hPa)|
A tropical storm was first observed in the Gulf of Mexico on June 25, while located about 240 miles (390 km) south-southwest of Marsh Island, Louisiana. It headed westward and strengthened into a hurricane about 12 hours later. Peaking with maximum sustained winds 80 mph (130 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 982 mbar (29.0 inHg), the storm maintained this intensity until making landfall in South Padre Island, Texas at 1200 UTC on June 26. It quickly weakened inland and fell to tropical storm strength about six hours later. The system continued in a west-northwestward direction over northern Mexico, until dissipating in a rural area of Coahuila on June 27.
This system brought near tropical storm-force winds to Texas as far north as Galveston. Brazos Island experienced the brunt of this storm, where winds blew a "perfect hurricane". Many buildings in the area lost their roofs or were moved by the winds. Additionally, a cistern at the Quartermaster’s Department was destroyed. The coast of Texas was also impacted by storm surge, with several bath houses washed away at Lavaca. Precipitation in the region was generally light, peaking at 6.63 inches (168 mm) at Fort Ringgold, which is near modern-day Rio Grande City.
Tropical Storm Two
|Tropical storm (SSHWS)|
|Duration||August 23 – August 23|
|Peak intensity||70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min)|
The ships Highflyer and Osceola encountered a "very violent" gale on August 23, while located at 33.0°N, 55.0°W, which is about 565 miles (910 km) east-northeast of Bermuda. A sustained wind speed of 70 mph (110 km/h) was recorded, indicative of a strong tropical storm. No further information is available of this storm. However, the barque Pilgrim experienced a severe gale on August 29, which may have been the extratropical remnants of this system.
|Category 3 hurricane (SSHWS)|
|Duration||September 7 – September 12|
|Peak intensity||115 mph (185 km/h) (1-min) 938 mbar (hPa)|
The brig Reindeer sighted a hurricane about 25 miles (40 km) east of Hope Town in The Bahamas on September 7. With winds of 125 mph (205 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 938 mbar (27.7 inHg), this was the strongest tropical cyclone of the season. It moved northwestward and weakened slightly on September 8. Later that day at 2000 UTC, the hurricane made landfall near St. Catherines Island, Georgia with winds of 115 mph (185 km/h). Early on September 9, it weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, then a tropical storm several hours later. Thereafter, the storm accelerated northeastward and re-emerged into the Atlantic Ocean near Virginia Beach, Virginia on September 10. The system re-strengthened, becoming a hurricane again on September 11. It eventually began to weaken again while moving rapidly eastward and was last noted about 515 miles (830 km) southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland.
Gales were reported in Florida, including as far south as St. Augustine. In Georgia, the entire coast suffered significant impacts, with damage more severe from St. Simons northward. About 110 acres (45 ha) of rice crops were destroyed, equivalent to a loss of approximately 6,000 bushels. Between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, "extraordinary tides" were reported. At Hutchinson Island, Georgia, the island was completely submerged, while there was significant inundation in eastern Savannah. Storm surge also brought coastal flooding to much of South Carolina, from Beaufort to Georgetown. Wind damage in that area was mainly confined to downed trees. However, in Charleston, South Carolina, a two story wooden building was destroyed and there was slight to moderate damage to other structures, limited to roofs and the destruction of fences. Throughout the United States, this storm resulted in at least 26 fatalities.
|Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)|
|Duration||September 18 – September 20|
|Peak intensity||105 mph (165 km/h) (1-min) 965 mbar (hPa)|
Reports first indicated a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico on September 18, while centered about 110 miles (180 km) south-southwest of Cameron, Louisiana. The storm drifted west-northwestward with winds of 105 mph (165 km/h), equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane. The lowest barometric pressure estimate was 965 mbar (28.5 inHg). At 2100 UTC on September 18, the storm made landfall near Freeport, Texas at the same intensity. It weakened to a Category 1 hurricane early on the following day. The system further weakened to a tropical storm at 1200 UTC on September 19. Re-curving northeastward, the storm persisted until dissipating over eastern Texas on September 20.
The steamship Louisiana reported that a gale struck Matagorda, Texas with "unparalleled fury", with nearly all buildings and vessels in the area destroyed. Several vessels also capsized near Galveston, including the Nick Hill and Kate Ward. Within the city of Galveston, merchants, businesses, and houses suffered significant water damage due to an 8 feet (2.4 m) storm surge. Cotton and sugar cane crops throughout the area were ruined. The storm caused at least four deaths, with several more occurring later due to a yellow fever outbreak. Damage in the region totaled approximately $20,000.
Tropical Storm Five
|Tropical storm (SSHWS)|
|Duration||October 20 – October 22|
|Peak intensity||70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min)|
The barque Southerney observed a tropical storm on October 20, while located about 460 miles (740 km) north-northwest of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The storm strengthened slowly while heading northward, until peaking with winds of 70 mph (110 km/h) on October 21. The storm then began to re-curve northeastward. Early on October 22, it passed near Bermuda, though no impact was reported on the island. Several hours later, this system was last noted about 365 miles (585 km) east-northeast of Bermuda.
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