1903 Atlantic hurricane season

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1903 Atlantic hurricane season
Season summary map
First storm formed July 21, 1903
Last storm dissipated November 25, 1903
Strongest storm Two – 105 knots (194 km/h)
Total storms 10
Major storms (Cat. 3+) 1
Total damage $1.15 million+ (1903 USD) $24.5 million+ (2005 USD)
Total fatalities 228
Atlantic hurricane seasons
1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905

The 1903 Atlantic hurricane season ran through summer and early fall of 1903. The season was average, with ten tropical storms, seven hurricanes, and one major hurricane.


Hurricane One[edit]

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration July 21 – July 26
Peak intensity 80 mph (130 km/h) (1-min)  <999 mbar (hPa)

The season started in late July when a tropical storm formed just offshore of Hispanola. The storm moved northwestward, reached hurricane strength, and went out to sea without affecting land masses.

Hurricane Two[edit]

Category 3 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration August 6 – August 16
Peak intensity 120 mph (195 km/h) (1-min)  958 mbar (hPa)

The second storm formed in the tropical Atlantic in early August. It hit Martinique as a Category 1 hurricane, and hit eastern Jamaica as a Category 3. It maintained its strength until it hit the northeastern coast of Yucatán. The storm moved across the Gulf of Mexico and hit Tamaulipas on August 15. The storm caused extensive devastation across the Caribbean. On Martinique, several hundred houses lost their roofs, many boats were wrecked in the harbor and crops were heavily damaged. Jamaica and the Cayman Islands were hardest hit. The northern shore of Jamaica was devastated. Port Antonio, Manchioneal and Port Maria were all largely destroyed with great loss of life and several other towns were heavily damaged. Newspaper accounts talk of a "tidal wave that rose some 20 feet (6.10 m)." This implies that the storm surge along Jamaica's northern coast may have reached that height. Numerous ships were also wrecked along the coast. At the Cayman Islands, gusts were clocked as high as 120 miles per hour (190 km/h). More than 200 houses and seven of eight churches on Grand Cayman were destroyed or heavily damaged. Of the 23 ships in the harbor, only the Governor Blake survived. Most of the crews on board those ships were reported killed but loss of life on shore was minimal. The storm also caused heavy damage on the Yucatán Peninsula and the Tampico area with many ships being sunk or driven ashore. Loss of life in Mexico went unrecorded. Cuba also reported damage. In all, the storm is believed to have killed at least 183 people and wrought damage well into the millions.

Hurricane Three[edit]

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration September 9 – September 16
Peak intensity 90 mph (150 km/h) (1-min)  976 mbar (hPa)

The tropics were quiet until early September when a tropical storm formed over the Bahamas. It strengthened to hurricane strength, and moved inland near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with winds of 85 mph (137 km/h). It weakened to a tropical storm as it crossed the Florida peninsula and moved back over the Gulf of Mexico. The storm regained hurricane strength and struck Florida again south of Panama City. The Bahamas saw significant crop damage but damage to property was not severe. In Florida, several ships were wrecked. Nine people were killed when the British steamer Inchulva was grounded near Delray and broken apart by heavy waves. Damage in peninsular Florida was about $670,000. Jupiter recorded a sustained wind of 84 mph (135 km/h), which could mean the storm was actually stronger at its first landfall. Damage from the storm's second landfall was comparatively minimal and no loss of life was reported in the Panama City area thanks in part to timely warnings.

Hurricane Four[edit]

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration September 12 – September 17
Peak intensity 100 mph (155 km/h) (1-min)  990 mbar (hPa)

The 1903 Vagabond Hurricane, as dubbed by The Press of Atlantic City, is the second most recent Atlantic hurricane to strike the state of New Jersey.[1] The fourth hurricane of the season, the cyclone was first observed on September 12 about 550 miles (885 km) northeast of Antigua. It moved quickly westward, then later turned to the north-northwest, steadily strengthening to reach a peak intensity of 100 mph (155 km/h). The hurricane weakened slightly before striking near Atlantic City, New Jersey, on September 16 with winds of 80 mph (130 km/h). It weakened over Pennsylvania and became an extratropical cyclone over western New York on September 17.[2]

Rough surf and moderate winds from the hurricane capsized several ships along the East Coast of the United States; 30 people were left missing and presumed killed from a shipwreck in Chincoteague, Virginia.[3] In New Jersey, the passage of the hurricane caused heavy damage, particularly near the coast. Dozens of buildings were damaged or destroyed, and damage across the state totaled $8 million (1903 USD, $180 million 2006 USD). On Long Island, President Theodore Roosevelt directly experienced the effects of the hurricane while on a yacht. The life of the president was briefly threatened due to the rough conditions, though none on board of the yacht suffered any problems from the hurricane.[4]

Tropical Storm Five[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration September 19 – September 26
Peak intensity 60 mph (95 km/h) (1-min)  <1003 mbar (hPa)

The fifth storm of the season formed over the Turks and Caicos Islands in mid September and moved almost due north. Three days after formation, the storm strengthened into a tropical storm. It peaked with winds of 60 mph (97 km/h) on September 24. When the storm was a few hundred miles east-southeast of the Outer Banks, it swerved sharply eastward, eventually dissipating over colder waters several hundred miles northeast of Bermuda.

Hurricane Six[edit]

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration September 26 – September 30
Peak intensity 110 mph (175 km/h) (1-min)  <988 mbar (hPa)

The sixth storm formed southeast of Bermuda and passed just east of the island on September 28, raking the island with hurricane-force winds. The high winds uprooted trees, damaged homes and destroyed crops. A landslide occurred, shearing off a portion of the cliff at Deep Bay. The resulting earth trembling and noise created from the slide resembled an earthquake.[5] After striking Bermuda, the storm continued northeast and became extratropical in the north Atlantic.

Hurricane Seven[edit]

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration October 1 – October 9
Peak intensity 100 mph (155 km/h) (1-min) 

The seventh storm of the season was first discovered a couple hundred miles east of the Leeward Islands 24 hours before it reached hurricane strength. Over the next three days, the storm turns north and then curved back to the east, strengthening as it went. It peaked with 100 mph winds as it moved east-southeast across the open Atlantic (a very unusual motion). The hurricane weakened back to a Category 1 and performed a small, clockwise loop, turning back east as it continued to weaken. The hurricane weakened to a tropical storm and became extratropical on October 10. No effects on land are known.

Tropical Storm Eight[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration October 5 – October 10
Peak intensity 70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min)  <997 mbar (hPa)

The eighth storm of the season formed not far northeast of the Bahamas and moved mostly northward throughout its entire existence. It did attain winds of nearly hurricane force but dissipated over open water between Bermuda and the Outer Banks.

Tropical Storm Nine[edit]

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
Duration October 21 – October 24
Peak intensity 60 mph (95 km/h) (1-min)  <1008 mbar (hPa)

On October 21, Tropical Storm Nine also formed near the Bahamas and moved out to sea.

Hurricane Ten[edit]

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
Duration November 17 – November 25
Peak intensity 80 mph (130 km/h) (1-min) 

The final storm started in the tropical Atlantic in early November, reached hurricane strength midway between the Bahamas and the Azores Islands, and became extratropical in the north Atlantic.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Buchholz, Margaret; Larry Savadove (1993). Great Storms of the Jersey Shore. Down the Shore Publishing. ISBN 0-945582-51-X. 
  2. ^ Hurricane Research Division (2006). "Meteorological Data for Hurricane #4 (1903)". NOAA. Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  3. ^ David Roth (2001). "Early Twentieth Century Virginia Hurricanes". Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  4. ^ Staff Writer (1903-09-16). "Hurricane Sweeps Atlantic Coast". Lincoln Evening News. Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  5. ^ Tucker, Terry (1966). Beware the Hurricane! The Story of the Cyclonic Tropical Storms That Have Struck Bermuda and the Islanders' Folk-lore Regarding Them (1 ed.). Bermuda: Hamilton Press. p. 261. 

Printed Media[edit]

  • Terry Tucker. Beware the Hurricane! Hamilton Press: Bermuda, 1966.

External links[edit]