1948 Miami hurricane

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Hurricane Eight
Category 4 major hurricane (SSHWS/NWS)
1948 Miami hurricane analysis 6 October.png
Surface weather analysis of the hurricane on October 6
Formed October 3, 1948 (1948-10-03)
Dissipated October 16, 1948 (1948-10-17)
Highest winds 1-minute sustained: 130 mph (215 km/h)
Lowest pressure ≤ 975 mbar (hPa); 28.79 inHg
Fatalities 11 direct
Damage $12.5 million (1948 USD)
Areas affected Nicaragua, Honduras, Yucatán Peninsula, Isle of Youth, Cuba, Florida, Bahamas, Bermuda
Part of the 1948 Atlantic hurricane season

The 1948 Miami hurricane was one of the strongest tropical cyclones of the 1948 Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane, the second most intense storm of the season, produced winds of 130 mph (215 km/h) in the Havana, Cuba region. The eighth tropical storm, fifth hurricane, and the fourth major hurricane of the season, it developed east-northeast of Cape Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua. Subsequently, it intensified over the western Caribbean Sea, attained winds of hurricane strength, and made landfall on western Cuba. The cyclone, which was the equivalence of a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, crossed the island and struck the Florida Keys as a major hurricane. The center passed over Miami, departed near Fort Lauderdale, and crossed the Atlantic Ocean south of Bermuda.

Cuba, the site of the strongest winds, received significant damage from the cyclone, and eleven fatalities occurred on the island. In Florida, the hurricane produced heavy rains and floods in the Miami region. Three tornadoes also occurred in the state; however, no deaths were confirmed. The impacts of Hurricane Seven, occurring two weeks prior to the storm, reduced the destruction from the October cyclone. The cyclone also caused extensive destruction on Bermuda.

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

A weak tropical storm, with winds of 40 mph (70 km/h), formed 90 miles (145 km) east-northeast of Cape Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua, on October 3.[1] The cyclone, moving northwest, strengthened to a hurricane on the next day. The system was noted as an organized tropical cyclone at 10:45 a.m. (1545 UTC) on the same date.[2] On October 5, the hurricane intensified and attained winds of at least 120 mph (195 km/h). Subsequently, the hurricane, reaching a peak intensity of 135 mph (215 km/h), made landfall east of Almacén in the Pinar del Río Province, Cuba. The center passed west of Havana, where winds were measured near 132 mph (213 km/h).[2][3] Later, the hurricane made landfall near Marathon on the evening of the same date. Maximum sustained winds were near 125 mph (200 km/h),[1] and Sombrero Key reported a pressure of 975 mbar (28.80 inHg). A lull, indicating the passage of the eye, persisted for 45 minutes at Marathon and the Bahia Honda Bridge. Maximum winds were estimated near 100 mph (161 km/h) in the Florida Keys.[2][3] The hurricane passed over Miami around 7 p.m. (00 UTC); sustained winds of 90 mph (145 km/h) were documented at the U.S. Weather Bureau's airport station, and the lowest pressure was 979 mbar (28.92 inHg).[2][3] The duration of the center was 35 minutes at the station; the lull lasted for a longer period at the Miami City Office, but the pressure did not drop below 981 mbar (28.96 inHg).[2]

The hurricane, producing winds of 105 mph (165 km/h),[1] passed over the Fort Lauderdale area and entered the Atlantic Ocean around 9:30 p.m. (0230 UTC).[2] On October 6, the center passed over the western portion of Grand Bahama;[1] wind gusts reached 110 mph (170 km/h),[3] and West End reported winds near hurricane intensity.[2] The hurricane briefly weakened over the western Atlantic Ocean, but it re-strengthened on October 7. The hurricane, attaining a second peak intensity of 105 mph (165 km/h), passed south of Bermuda on the same date. Winds reached 110 mph (170 km/h) on the island.[4] On October 8, the hurricane turned east, weakened to a tropical storm, and executed a clockwise loop from October 9 through October 15. The system dissipated on October 15.[1]


A total of 26 bulletins were released by the Miami Weather Bureau office.[2] In Cuba, eleven deaths were attributed to the tropical cyclone. Homes and cattle were swept away by flash flooding. 300 injuries were reported, and damages reached $6,000,000 (1948 USD).[5]

The hurricane, reminiscent of Hurricane Floyd in 1987, produced minimal damage in the Florida Keys.[6] In southern Florida, the cyclone produced a storm surge of 4.5 feet (1.4 m) on Biscayne Bay. Rainfall exceeded 9.5 inches (241.30 mm) at the Miami airport station, and Miami streets were flooded by deep water. Water resembled flooding streams in the streets of Homestead, Miami Springs, Hialeah, and sections of Miami Beach. In Hialeah, the city mayor reported water depths of 3.5 feet (1.1 m) in the streets. The city had been plagued by floods in recent years. A Miami bridge, located near the Miami River, was damaged by a loose barge during the hurricane. Planes were overturned and damaged by strong winds at the Tamiami Airport.[3] The hurricane produced three tornadoes prior to landfall. One tornado, touching down around 4 p.m., demolished 25 homes south of Pompano Beach. A total of 29 residences were damaged or destroyed.[7][8] Forty-four minutes later, the second tornado struck homes west of Fort Lauderdale. One building, containing two stories, lost its roof, while five homes incurred damage. Barns were damaged or destroyed. Losses reached $15,000 (1948 USD).[7] Another tornado destroyed three homes in the city of Opa-locka, where damages reached $100,000 (1948 USD). The tornado flipped cars and inflicted extensive damage at the Royal Palm dairy farm.[3][7][8] All of the tornadoes attained the equivalence of F2 intensity on the modern Fujita scale.[7] The hurricane caused no fatalities across the state, and the recent passage of Hurricane Seven, which had resulted in pre-existing damage, mitigated the destruction from the October hurricane.[3] Total losses in Florida reached $5,500,000; more than one-half of the costs were attributed to property damage. The lack of fatalities was unusual in a densely populated region.[2]

Bermuda was also impacted by the hurricane. Roofs were blown from buildings, and the sides of some structures were knocked down. Electrical light wires and telephone lines were down across the island. The local U.S. Air Force Base and the U.S. Naval Base received minimal damage. Damages exceeded $1,000,000 (1948 USD).[9]

See also[edit]


  • Barnes, Jay (1998). Florida's Hurricane History. Chapel Hill Press. ISBN 0-8078-2443-7. 
  • Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. Environmental Films. ISBN 1-879362-03-1. 
  • Williams, John M. et al. (2002). Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms: Expanded Edition. University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-2494-3. 


  1. ^ a b c d e Atlantic hurricane research division (2008). "Atlantic hurricane database (HURDAT) "best track" (1851–2007)". NOAA. Archived from the original on 2008-04-27. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sumner, H. C. (1948). "North Atlantic Hurricanes and Tropical Disturbances of 1948". U.S. Weather Bureau. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Barnes, p. 182
  4. ^ Forbes, Keith Archibald. "Bermuda Weather and Climate". Bermuda Online. Archived from the original on 21 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  5. ^ Barnes, p. 181
  6. ^ Swanson, Gail et al. "Florida Keys Hurricanes of the Last Millennium". Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  7. ^ a b c d Grazulis, p. 940
  8. ^ a b "Severe Local Storms for October 1948". U.S. Weather Bureau. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  9. ^ The Associated Press (1948). "Million Damage Done by Bermuda Hurricane". The Bridgeport Telegram. Retrieved 2009-01-10.