1899 San Ciriaco hurricane
|Category 4 hurricane (SSHS)|
Surface Weather Analysis of Hurricane San Ciriaco on August 13, 1899.
|Formed||August 3, 1899|
|Dissipated||September 4, 1899|
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained:
150 mph (240 km/h)
|Lowest pressure||930 mbar (hPa); 27.46 inHg|
|Areas affected||Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Turks and Caicos Islands, Cuba, Bahamas, East Coast of the United States (Landfall in North Carolina), Atlantic Canada, Azores|
|Part of the 1899 Atlantic hurricane season|
1899 San Ciriaco hurricane, also known as the 1899 Puerto Rico Hurricane, was the longest-lived Atlantic hurricane and the eleventh deadliest tropical cyclone in the basin. It was an intense and long-lived Atlantic Cape Verde-type hurricane which crossed Puerto Rico over the two-day period August 8 to August 9, 1899. Many deaths occurred as a result, due to flooding. The cyclone kept tropical storm strength or higher for 28 days, which makes it the longest duration Atlantic hurricane on record and the second-longest anywhere in the world (behind Hurricane John in 1994). The estimated ACE of 73.57 is the highest ever recorded in the Atlantic basin.
The exact origins of the are unknown, but it was first observed on August 3 to the west-southwest of Cape Verde. That day, a ship reported tropical storm force winds and an atmospheric pressure of 995 mbar. For a few days, its exact path was unknown due to lack of observations, although it is estimated that the storm continued west-northwestward and attained hurricane status on August 5. On August 7, as it approached the northern Lesser Antilles, the hurricane began to be tracked continuously by ship and land observations. By that date, it was quickly intensifying into a powerful storm, and a station on Montserrat reported a pressure of 930 mbar. This suggested sustained winds of 150 mph (240 km/h).
Late on August 7, the hurricane moved through the northern Lesser Antilles, passing directly over Guadeloupe and a short distance to the south of Saint Kitts; in the latter island, a station reported winds of 120 mph (193 km/h). Continuing west-northwestward, the hurricane weakened slightly before making landfall on August 8 along the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico. The city of Guayama recorded a pressure of 940 mbar, suggesting a landfall intensity of 140 mph (225 km/h).
August 8 was the namesday of Saint Cyriacus, hence the hurricane's name. The storm crossed Puerto Rico in an east-southeast to west-northwest direction, causing maximum wind speeds between 110 and 140 mph (180 and 230 km/h) throughout.
After it passed Puerto Rico, it brushed northern Dominican Republic as a Category 3 hurricane, but passed north enough to not cause major damage. It passed through the Bahamas, retaining its strength as it moved slowly northward. After drifting northeastward, the hurricane turned northwestward, hitting the Outer Banks on August 17. It drifted northeast ward over the state, re-emerging into the Atlantic on the 19th. It continued eastward, where it became extratropical on the 22nd.
The extratropical cyclone turned southeastward where, on August 26, it became a tropical storm again. Like most of the rest of its lifetime, it drifted, first to the northwest then to the east. It strengthened as it moved eastward, and on September 3, as it was moving through the Azores, it again became a hurricane. The intensification didn't last long, and the hurricane became extratropical for the final time on the 4th. It dissipated that day while racing across the northeastern Atlantic.
On August 7, after stations in the Lesser Antilles reported a change in wind from the northeast to the northwest, the United States Weather Bureau ordered hurricane signals at Roseau, Dominica, Basseterre, Saint Kitts, and San Juan, Puerto Rico; later, a hurricane signal was raised at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Information on the hurricane was also sent to other locations throughout the Caribbean.
While passing through the Leeward Islands, strong winds were reported on several islands. In Saint Kitts, 5-minute sustained winds were 72 mph (116 km/h), while 1-minute sustained winds were as high as 120 mph (190 km/h).
The San Ciriaco hurricane was described as the first major storm in Puerto Rico since the 1876 San Felipe hurricane. Approximately 250,000 people were left without food and shelter. Overall, damage totaled approximately $20 million, with over half were losses inflicted on crops, particularly coffee. At the time, it was the costliest and worst tropical cyclone in Puerto Rico. The number of fatalities ranged from 3,100 to 3,400, with the official estimate being 3,369. The San Ciriaco hurricane remains the deadliest tropical cyclone in the history of Puerto Rico.
Strong winds were reported throughout the island, reaching 85 mph (137 km/h) at many locations and over 100 mph (160 km/h) in Humacao, Mayagüez, and Ponce. Within the municipality of Ponce, 500 people died, mostly from drowning. Streets were flooded, waterfront businesses were destroyed, and several government buildings were damaged. Telephone, telegraph, and electrical services were completely lost. Ponce was described as an image of "horrible desolation" by its municipal council. Impact was worst in Utuado, with damage exceeding $2.5 million. In Humacao, 23 inches (580 mm) of rain fell in only 24 hours.
After crossing Puerto Rico, the storm passed offshore of Dominican Republic and was severe in the northeastern portions of the country, but the southern portions experienced minimal damage. A hurricane signal was posted in eastern Cuba. Vessels at all Cuban ports were advised to remain in port.
In The Bahamas, strong winds and waves sank 50 small crafts, a majority of these were located at Andros Island. Losses to boating vessels reached $50,000. Within the capital city of Nassau, a fruit factory, a sponge warehouse, a dancing pavilion, and about 100 smaller buildings were destroyed. A few public buildings were damaged, including the Government House. Additionally, a few houses were destroyed in Bimini. The death toll was "conservatively" estimated at 125, 100 of them were thought to have occurred at Red Bays, which is located on North Andros.
In Jupiter, Florida, sustained winds reached 52 mph (84 km/h), while gusts peaked at 63 mph (101 km/h). Winds downed telegraph lines, which disrupted telegraphic communications. However, no other wind damage is known to have occurred. Heavy rainfall was also reported. Between Titusville and Miami, losses reached $5,000. Tides along the coast of South Carolina peaked at 2.8 feet (0.85 m), resulting in no coastal flooding. Well executed warnings were attributed to no fatalities in South Carolina.
Strong winds were also reported in Virginia. At Cape Henry, winds peaked at 68 mph (109 km/h) for five minutes. In Norfolk, five-minute sustained winds reached 42 miles per hour (68 km/h). The storm was quite severe along the James River, with low-lying areas of Norfolk inundated by wind-driven tides, while livestock drowned in the flood waters at Suffolk. A "heavy northeastern storm" began in Petersburg the night of August 17. Corn and tobacco suffered considerable damage as crops were leveled by strong winds.
Hurricane San Ciriaco set many records on its path. Killing nearly 3,500 people in Puerto Rico, it was the deadliest hurricane to hit the island and the strongest at the time, until 30 years later when the island was hit by the Hurricane San Felipe Segundo, a Category 5 hurricane, in 1928. It was also the tenth deadliest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded.
Also, with an Accumulated cyclone energy of 73.57, it has the highest ACE of any Atlantic hurricane in history. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan became the second Atlantic hurricane to surpass an ACE value of 70, but did not surpass the San Ciriaco hurricane.
San Ciriaco is also the longest lasting Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, lasting for 28 days (31 including subtropical time).
- Chris Landsea, et al. (2003). "Documentation of Atlantic Tropical Cyclones Changes in HURDAT: 1896-1900". Hurricane Research Division. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
- Chris Landsea, et al. (2003). "Raw Observations for Hurricane #3, 1899" (XLS). Hurricane Research Division. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
- E.B. Garriott (August 1899) (PDF). Monthly Weather Review (Report). U.S. Weather Bureau. http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hurdat/mwr_pdf/1899.pdf. Retrieved 2009-06-22.
- A good account of the hurricane's passage through the city of Ponce, where he was stationed at the time, is given by Ashford, Bailey (1998) . A Soldier in Science. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0-8477-0351-7.
- Stuart B. Schwartz (1992). "The Hurricane of San Ciriaco: Disaster, Politics, Society in Puerto Rico, 1899–1901" (PDF). Latin American Studies (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press). http://latinamericanstudies.org/puertorico/hurricane.pdf. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- David M. Roth (July 16, 2001). "Late Nineteenth Century Virginia Hurricanes". Weather Prediction Center (Camp Springs, Maryland: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/research/roth/valate19hur.htm. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- Hairr, John (2008). The Great Hurricanes of North Carolina. Charleston, SC: History Press. pp. 81–104. ISBN 978-1-59629-391-5.
- Schwartz, Stuart B. (1982). "The Hurricane of San Ciriaco: Disaster, Politics, and Society in Puerto Rico, 1899-1901". Hispanic American Historical Review (Duke University Press) 72 (3): 303–334. doi:10.2307/2515987. JSTOR 2515987.