1899 San Ciriaco hurricane
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|
|Damage||$20 million (1899 USD)|
|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 on record. The third tropical cyclone and first major hurricane of the season, this storm was first observed southwest of Cape Verde on August 3. It slowly strengthened while heading steadily west-northwestward across the Atlantic Ocean and reached hurricane status by late on August 5. During the following 48 hours, it deepened further, reaching Category 4 on the modern day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS) before crossing the Leeward Islands on August 7. Later that day, the storm peaked winds of 150 mph (240 km/h). The storm weakened slightly before making landfall in Guayama, Puerto Rico with winds of 140 mph (220 km/h) on August 8. Several hours later, it emerged into the southwestern Atlantic as a Category 3 hurricane. The system paralleled the north coast of Dominican Republic and then crossed the Bahamas, striking several islands. Thereafter, it began heading northward on August 14, while centered east of Florida. Early on the following day, the storm re-curved northeastward and appeared to be heading out to sea. However, by August 17, it turned back to the northwest and made landfall near Hatteras, North Carolina early on the following day.
The storm weakened after moving inland and fell to Category 1 intensity by 1200 UTC on August 18. Later that day, the storm re-emerged into the Atlantic. Now heading northeastward, it continued weakening, but maintained Category 1 intensity. By late on August 20, the storm curved eastward over the northwestern Atlantic. It also began losing tropical characteristics and transitioned into an extratropical cyclone at 0000 UTC on August 22, while located about 325 miles (525 km) south of Sable Island. However, after four days, the system regenerated into a tropical storm while located about 695 miles (1,120 km) west-southwest of Flores Island in the Azores on August 26. It moved slowly north-northwestward, until curving to the east on August 29. Between August 26 and September 1, the storm did not differentiate in intensity, but began re-strengthening while turning southeastward on September 2. Early on the following day, the storm again reached hurricane intensity. It curved northeastward and passed through the Azores on September 3, shortly before transitioning into an extratropical cyclone.
In Guadeloupe, the storm unroofed and flooded many houses. Communications were significantly disrupted in the interior portions of the island. Impact was severe in Montserrat, with nearly every building destroyed and 100 deaths reported. About 200 small houses were destroyed on Saint Kitts, with estates suffering considerable damage, while nearly all estates were destroyed on Saint Croix. Eleven deaths were reported on the island. In Puerto Rico, the system brought strong winds and heavy rainfall, which caused extensive flooding. Approximately 250,000 people were left without food and shelter. Additionally, telephone, telegraph, and electrical services were completely lost. 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. It was estimated that the storm caused 3,369 fatalities. In the Bahamas, strong winds and waves sank 50 small crafts, most of them at Andros. Severe damage was reported in Nassau, with over 100 buildings destroyed and many damaged, including the Government House. A few houses were also destroyed in Bimini. The death toll in the Bahamas was at least 125. In North Carolina, storm surge and rough sea destroyed fishing piers and bridges, as well as sink about 10 vessels. Because Hatteras Island was almost entirely inundated with 4 to 10 feet (1.2 to 3.0 m) of water, many homes were damaged, with much destruction at Diamond City. There were at least 20 deaths in the state of North Carolina. In the Azores, the storm also caused one fatality and significant damage on some islands.
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.